Between the eleventh and thirteenth century, the Islamic world saw the rise of the madrasah (lit. “a place of study”). A madrasah, in traditional Islamic useage, was a college – a centre of higher education, scholarship, teaching and research, whose primary aim was to train students in the disciplines entailed in legal studies. The madrasah was, in many ways, the precursor and model for the great medieval universities of Europe. The Jawziyyah Institute derives its name from one such classical college: the Madrasah al-Jawziyyah of Damascus, Syria.

Abu’l-Faraj ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Ali b. al-Jawzi (d.1258) was the person who established the madrasah as an endowment (waqf), where it served as one of the few centres devoted to the teaching and study of Hanbali jurisprudence in Damascus. Its most reknowned teacher would be Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (or Ibn al-Qayyim, for short), so called because his father was the attendent, the qayyim, of the actual madrasah: hence the name, “Son of the Jawziyyah’s Attendent”. In Ibn al-Qayyim, a scholar of both the inward and outward sciences of Islam, we see an embodiment of the key ideals the Jawziyyah Institute aspires to imbibe and espouse: truth, beauty and balance.

The Jawziyyah Institute is a non-profit, educational institution based in London, England. It was founded in 1999, and evolved out of a need to provide a richer, more meaningful understanding of Islam – one rooted in sound and holistic scholarship. For what this religion offers is iman: a doctrine or belief that explains his purpose in life, his position within the universe, and also his relationship with God; the Divine; the Absolute. It offers islam: a law which informs his interactions with his fellow men, his environment, and the animal kingdom; whether these interactions be at a personal or social level. And beyond this, it offers ihsan: a spirituality which gives depth and meaning to the doctrine and law, and which offers man a detailed method of spiritual ascent. Viewed from this perspective, the Islamic faith is more than just a religion, it is din; a holistic way of living and being, in which nothing of significance to the human condition, or to the field of human activity and welfare, is excluded or omitted.