The ceremony commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of IRCICA under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Turkey was an imposing and international event where the Centre’s achievements were highlighted and presented to concerned circles world-wide. Taking this into consideration, the Executive Committee decided to organise a similar ceremony for the Fifteenth Anniversary. Based on the previous experience, the Fifteenth Anniversary commemoration was included in the program of the Eleventh Conference of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) which was held in Istanbul in November 1995.
The ceremony of the Fifteenth Anniversary took place at the Centre’s headquarters on 7 November 1995 under the patronage and in the presence of H.E. Suleyman Demirel, President of the Republic of Turkey. Dr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary General of the OIC, was also present, as well as the Member States’ ministerial delegations who were attending the COMCEC Conference in Istanbul, ambassadors of the Member States and other countries, members of the Governing Board of IRCICA, high officials of the Government of Turkey, heads and members of international organisations, and a great number of representatives of the local and foreign press. Presidential patronage, high-level participation from the Member States, and wide press coverage of the event, confirmed the interest and appreciation shown to the Centre and its activities on an international level.
President Demirel delivered a comprehensive address at the ceremony. Congratulatory messages were received from the following Heads of State and Government: H.M. Hassan II, King of Morocco and President of the Seventh Islamic Summit; H.E. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs; and Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia, H.E. Mr. Habib Boulares, President of the Assembly of Deputies of the Republic of Tunisia; Prof. Dr. Tansu Ciller, Prime Minister of Turkey and H.E. Mr. Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO.
After the arrival of the President of the Republic of Turkey in the conference hall at Cit Qasr, the ceremony started with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran, then the Turkish National Anthem was sung. A short documentary film on the Centre’s accomplishments in its first fifteen years was shown to the audience.
The Director General welcomed the President of Turkey, the Ministers and Ambassadors, Secretary General of OIC Dr. Hamid Algabid and all the participants. He expressed his gratitude for their presence on this occasion, which was a manifestation of the support given to the Centre and a confirmation of the trust placed on it for the fulfillment of the responsibilities. He said: "From 1980 to 1995, the world witnessed major changes in the political, economic, cultural and social fields. It is stimulating for us to note that through this process, the objectives for which IRCICA was originally established have acquired even greater importance and relevance. The Centre was assigned the task of carrying out and disseminating research on Islamic history and culture, promoting cooperation among the Member States of the OIC, better introducing the Islamic civilisation to the world, and acting as a focal point in the cultural field. With this aim, the Centre undertook studies on multifarious aspects of Islamic culture and civilisation. As the focal point of the OIC in the cultural field, the Centre assumes today an increasingly important role." Dr. Hamid Algabid, Secretary General of the OIC, addressed the audience expressing his thanks and appreciation to the Republic of Turkey, to the President, the Government and the people of Turkey for their support of the Centre. He said: "The establishment of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in this city, far from being accidental, corresponded to the OIC’s desire to make the Islamic Ummah and the rest of the world rediscover an important part of the Islamic civilisation, as well as the influence which the preceding civilisations exerted on it, and the symbiosis resulting from the breed which reached its peak in this cosmopolitan city which has always been a crossroad of civilisations and cultures. … Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture which is commemorating its Fifteenth Anniversary this year, has been an important milestone in the phase which marked the establishment of OIC’s subsidiary organs. … Surely, a long way lies ahead so that it may function at full swing and reach its optimum production and also to overcome certain financial difficulties it is faced with. But the mere fact that it managed, throughout this period, to produce simultaneously a high-level research and study on Islamic history, art and culture, proves that it has the capacity to attain that goal and gives us great hope on its future. In my view, the Centre’s future action should be to search for an adequate solution to the problems of identifying the Muslim peoples and it should examine the various stages covered by those peoples in their struggle against ostracism, invasion and cultural alienation, whence the necessity to rehabilitate and evaluate our historic heritage to clean it of every falsification or erroneous interpretation on the part of its adversaries who gave a false idea about our civilisation and tarnished its image in the eyes of contemporary societies. Henceforth, to fulfill this objective, the Centre should highlight, through its researches and studies, Islam’s veritable universal vocation, its spirit of tolerance and its sense of respect for others as well as its role in the emancipation of peoples and the immense progress it bestowed upon humanity ever since it was first revealed. The Centre should also shed more light on the revolution it brought about to the political mores and the archaic and retrograde values of an unjust society, resting on tribalism and the spirit of castes, replacing it by a just society wherein relations between men and women were characterised by equality in rights as Islam does not recognise any difference between them, save for the work accomplished and intrinsic value of each and everyone."
His Majesty King Hassan II, King of Morocco and Chairman of the Seventh Islamic Summit, sent the following message:
"… We are delighted that the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture takes place while we are holding the acting chairmanship of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. We express our warmest congratulations to the Centre’s executives and we hail their constructive actions, tireless efforts and noteworthy initiatives that are up to the hopes pinned on the Centre … Your institution contributed to making known to the world the richness of Islamic culture, its noble goals and the spirit impelling it from time immemorial. … We followed with satisfaction your action in favour of our written legacy, a so necessary source to have a sound knowledge of the history of Islam, a source likely to reveal to all searchers the marvels of our culture. Thus the contribution of our community to the world civilisation will be better appreciated, for Islam preserved the knowledge of the ancient civilisations and invested it in an open, far-sighted and creative spirit. …
The mission you are undertaking serves greatly the Islamic traditional arts, namely calligraphy which plays a key role thanks to its variety and glamour. It superbly decorated manuscripts and illuminations as it enriched plastic arts and woodcut and precious metal with engravings. The importance you granted to these arts is justified. … Your institution covers a wide scope encompassing all the values of Islam: conviviality, charity, perfection. The Research Centre for Islamic History, Arts and Culture admirably highlights the Islamic values which are intrinsically linked with the sense of life. …"
H. E. Abdou Diouf, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs, in his message said, "… I hope the invaluable achievements that the Centre has to its credit will be strengthened, and I know that the Islamic Ummah can trust the Centre for it. This is all the more important when taking into consideration the present international circumstances which urge us to increase our efforts to make the true image of Islam better known, this in line with the spirit of the pertinent resolution of the Seventh Islamic Summit held in Casablanca, and by bringing out the teachings of tolerance, respect for others, and progress that our religion promotes."
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamed’s message read: "Malaysia highly appreciates IRCICA’s role as an institution dealing with the promotion of the cultural identity of the Islamic world. The accomplishments made by IRCICA in the last fifteen years have been commendable. …"
"We are convinced tha the commendable work assumed by this Centre is centered around the principal goals of that action undertaken by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference aiming to confirm the spirit of tolerance established through the Prophet’s mission and to highlight its contributions to the development of world civilisation. I appreciated your meritorious efforts when I visited your Centre while I was Minister of Foreign Affairs. Now on this occasion, I am most pleased to share with you the happiness of this anniversary, and I wish you continuous success." H.E. Mr. Habib Boulares, President of the Assembly of Deputies, Tunisia
In his message, UNESCO Director General Mr. Federico Mayor said: "… On the occasion of the Fifteenth Anniversary of IRCICA, I am glad to express my appreciation of the many successful activities undertaken since its inception. They constitute the foundation for a promising future and for continued cooperation with UNESCO in the pursuit of common objectives through the implementation of projects of mutual interest."
President Suleyman Demirel addressed the audience and said: "I have the pleasure of greeting you all. First, I would like to express my sincere thanks to my brother King Hassan II of Morocco, my brother the President of Senegal Abdou Diouf, my brother the Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohammed, the Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Federico Mayor, for the messages they sent to this ceremony, as well as to the distinguished and eminent Secretary General of the OIC Dr. Hamid Algabid, who gave an important message here and who has continuously supported IRCICA. In your presence, I would also like to express my thanks and appreciation to Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and his staff who were instrumental, during the past fifteen years, in IRCICA’s achievements and progress, resulting in its present state."
The President of Turkey also pointed out that today the majority of the Muslims and Muslim countries are poor, and some people claim underdevelopment is related to Islam; however, if Muslims themselves fully understand the moral and material values of the civilisation that Muslim nations produced over the past 1400 years, they would acquire a well-deserved self-esteem and make an effort to explain the true reasons of poverty.
The President emphasised that most of the values and principles enunciated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights fifty years ago were already established by the Prophet of Islam. He said that IRCICA, whose studies contribute to highlighting the Islamic civilisation, a task which acquires greater importance in our time, must be supported and assisted so that it may continue to fulfil its tasks. The President continued: "I am happy that we are celebrating the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, an OIC institution which assumed very important tasks towards establishing unity and solidarity in the Islamic world.
This Centre had prepared its first work program fifteen years ago, in May 1980; since then it has been very successful in its activities. We are pleased to note that with its projects and publications, the Centre is now known and appreciated in the academic circles of both the Muslim and the Western world. Through its work, the Centre has reflected throughout the world, the richness and the depth of Islamic culture, which is greatly needed. First Muslims themselves, and then others, must be aware of the great civilisation that millions, billions of Muslims from the Maghreb to the Mashreq have produced over a period of 1400 years and which today is the civilisation of one-fifth of the world population, that is one billion Muslims. If Muslims themselves become fully aware of it, they will truly understand that Islam does not hinder wealth and development in any way and it encourages moral and material values. …
And this Centre, which is established in this big historical city at the crossroads of three continents, this city which houses the masterpieces of Islam and brings together the moral and material products of cultures, would contribute to eliminating conflicts and building peace among cultures, because if the other cultures learn more about the civilisation of Islam, then they would understand that the Islamic civilisation aims to establish peace, that it is a noble and deep-rooted civilisation which diffuses the principles of tolerance, understanding, love and respect for others. Hence, peoples of different cultures would mutually enrich and support each other, and this is what humanity needs most. No doubt, a factor which contributed to the success of this scholarly research institution of which the Islamic world is rightly proud of, is the backing given by the Muslim world. The experience of fifteen years has shown that the establishment of this Centre was a most pertinent idea and that a very good institution has been founded here. …
The fact that this Centre accomplished such successful activities is a matter of pride for all those who trust the Centre, who supported the idea of its establishment and gave it their moral and material assistance. We will continue to give our support to this Centre. The activities of this Centre and similar institutions will have a great share in achieving the future aspirations of the Muslim world. Therefore, it is a duty of the present generations towards their children to enable the Centre to work under the best conditions and ensure its permanence."
"The Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture which is commemorating this year its Fifteenth Anniversary, has been an important milestone in the phase which marked the setting up of the OIC’s subsidiary organs." Dr. Hamid Algabid, OIC Secretary General
The ceremony continued with the presentation of a plaque to the President, by the Secretary General of the OIC and the Director General of IRCICA as an expression of their gratitude. Another plaque of appreciation and thanks was also forwarded to the King of Morocco and Chairman of the Islamic Summit His Majesty Hassan II for the message sent on this occasion, which was handed over to Mr. Omar Amine Benabdallah, President of the Economic Commission of Ribat Al-Fath Association in Rabat and member of the Governing Board of the Centre.
A third plaque was presented to His Majesty King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of Haramein Sherifein and King of Saudi Arabia, host country of the OIC, in appreciation of the generous patronage and support given to the Centre by His Majesty and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Ambassador Nadji Sadiq Al-Mufti, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Ankara received this plaque on behalf of His Majesty the King. Mr. Fodé Seck, Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, received the plaque on behalf of President Abdou Diouf which was an expression of gratitude for the message sent on the occasion of the Centre’s Fifteenth Anniversary.
Prof. Ihsanoglu presented plaques of appreciation to the following personalities for the generous donations made to the ISAR Foundation: His Highness Sheikh Jabir Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait (certificate received by Mr. Mustafa Shimali, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance of Kuwait); His Highness Sheikh Halifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar (certificate received by Mr. Sayyid Yunus Husein Kemal, Undersecretary, Ministry of Finance, Economy and Commerce); H.E. Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia (the certificate was received by Her Excellency the Ambassador of Malaysia in Ankara, Dato Zabeidah Bte. Hadji Ahmed); His Royal Highness Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of the Sultanate of Oman (certificate received by Mr. Hamood Hilal Hamood Al-Habsi, Undersecretary of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economy); His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (certificate received by Mr. Abdul Raouf Al-Mubarek, Undersecretary of Ministry of Economy and Commerce).
The Director General of IRCICA also presented a token of gratitude to the Secretary General of the OIC Dr. Hamid Algabid, in appreciation of his support and guidance which were immensely helpful in ensuring the Centre’s successful activities. Then, the Secretary General of the OIC, Dr. Hamid Algabid, presented Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Director General of IRCICA, with the "Certificate of Excellence of the First Order" in appreciation of the services he rendered towards strengthening the joint Islamic action and supporting the noble objectives of the OIC.
After the ceremony, the President of the Republic of Turkey had an audience with Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu who submitted detailed information on the Centre’s activities and progress. The President wrote the following words in IRCICA Visitors’ Book (original in Turkish):
"IRCICA is a most pertinent and very successful institution. Muslims as well as the adherents of other religions and beliefs ought to see and learn about the riches of this great civilisation. This is a service to peace, tolerance and progress. With congratulations and appreciation." Suleyman Demirel, President of the Republic of Turkey
On the occasion of its Fifteenth Anniversary, the Centre organised an exhibition of illustrations and documents representing some of its accomplishments during the first fifteen years of its existence. The President of Turkey and guests visited the exhibition that was arranged at the Silahhane Building in Yildiz Palace, where the President gave a dinner in honour of the participants.