Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the Muslim community to set aside their differences and work together to regain the glorious heritage the Islamic world once had in science, philosophy, medicine and other fields of enlightenment.
"Today, Muslims are in possession of a significant amount of wealth. We can bring back our lost heritage by using this resource for the development of science and modern technology. I believe it," she said.
The premier was addressing as the chief guest at the 35th Convocation Ceremony of Islamic University of Technology (IUT) held on its campus. IUT Chancellor and also OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha presided over the function.
Hasina said Muslim scholars had reached the pinnacle of success in the fields of science, history, literature, philosophy, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, geography, and in many other branches during the golden age of the Islam.
She said Muslim scholars of that era dominated the world in culture, knowledge acquisition, scientific discoveries, and contemporary literature.
The PM stressed the need for analyzing the reasons behind the fall of the Muslims who once had the glorious heritage. Internal conflict, lack of mutual respect and harmony between Muslim countries, lack in knowledge and science and many other issues have factored in the collective fall of the Muslim Ummah, she said.
"To regain this lost glory, I think we the Muslim Ummah will have to work united, forgetting differences," she said adding that the Muslim countries will particularly have to invest more in the education and science for the students of the Muslim countries and thus to develop science and modern technology.
In this modern era, three Nobel prizes have been awarded to Muslim recipients that sadly are the true reflection of the contribution of the Muslim Ummah in the fields of research and development, she said.
She said the Muslim nations need stronger endeavors in the fields of science and technology so that they can contribute more. The Muslim community should not fall behind in tackling the challenges presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution especially in the sectors of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Quantum Computing and others, she added.
She said Bangladesh being a proud host of Islamic University of Technology, a subsidiary organ of OIC, will continue support for its smooth functioning. "I want to assure that we vow to keep on supporting IUT in future as well," she said.
She said Bangladesh takes immense pride in being the host and being a part of every success story of such a prestigious institute like IUT. "I personally believe that education is a lifelong pursuance for achieving greatness," she said.
Hasina said the IUT graduates are not only serving Bangladesh and OIC member states, they are also making contributions all across the globe.
She hoped that today's graduates will continue to grow their skills by working closely with technologists, innovators and scientific communities around the world in the days to come.
"I strongly believe that IUT will play a pivotal role in showcasing the caliber of Muslim Ummah ….by spreading her fame as a state-of-the-art institute," she said.
The premier focused on AL government's steps and success to promote and spread Islamic knowledge keeping the dreams and ideals of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the guidelines.
"We have undertaken and implemented numerous initiatives in the past 14 years and a half for the promotion of Islam," she said.
The initiatives include establishment of an Arabic university, implementation of a massive project of building 564 model mosques and Islamic cultural centres in the country, launching the digital version of the Holy Quran, free distribution of the holy Quran among children, setting up the 'Imam-Muajjin Welfare Trust,' introduction of Mosque-based child education programs, launching honors course in different Madrasas, the enactment of a law for the recognition of Qaumi Madrasas, and declaration of the status of Dawrah Hadith Certificate as equivalent to a Masters' Certificate.
The PM said her government has put special emphasis on education and research and is encouraging meritorious students by awarding scholarships abroad as incentives. "We are facilitating their way for conducting research in prestigious educational institutions at home and abroad," she said.
Focusing on the development of Bangladesh during her government, Hasina said their efforts have culminated in reducing the poverty rate of 41.5% in 2006 to 18.6% in 2022 and the extreme poverty rate from 25.5% to 6.7% in the same period.
She said the size of the GDP in 2006 was only USD60 billion, whereas right now it has been elevated to USD465 billion. Meanwhile, the per capita income of USD543 in 2006 has increased to USD2824 in 2022.
The size of the national budget was only Tk61,000 crore in 2006, which is now over Tk600,000 crore. "We're going to place the new budget on 1 June. Inshallah we'll be able to give a budget of Tk700,000 crore," she added.
Sheikh Hasina credited the stable situation and the continuation of economic development since 2008 behind this progress of Bangladesh.
"Even the Covid-19 pandemic or the Ukraine-Russia war couldn't stop our progress. Though we are facing difficulties, we've been able to continue it (this progress)," she said, adding that her government wants to build a knowledge-based, developed, prosperous and smart Bangladesh by 2041.
The PM congratulated the IUT graduates on their successful completion of the academic curriculum.
She opened a newly constructed female hall of IUT through a virtual platform from the convocation ceremony. The hall was constructed with the USD2 million grants of the government of Bangladesh. The premier announced the fund for the hall during her last visit to IUT.
In the convocation, Mohammad Abu Bakar Siddique was conferred with the OIC Gold Medal and four others with the IUT Gold Medals for their outstanding academic performance.
Education Minister Dipu Moni and Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen spoke at the function, while IUT Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Rafiqul Islam delivered the welcome speech.