The Transformative Impact Of ARDI’s Vision on Education

The devastating two-year-long war in Tigray (Nov 4, 2020 – Nov 4, 2022) wreaked havoc across the entire region. Not even places of worship were spared, and the Al-Nejashi mosque, with its rich historical and religious significance, suffered severe damage. The Al-Nejashi site is located 57 km (about 35 miles) from the Tigray capital, Mekelle, and it is known for welcoming and providing sanctuary to the companions of the Prophet, who fled persecution, injustice, and tyranny under the ruling Quraish tribes of Mecca. The Tigray conflict specifically targeted the education sector, resulting in the looting and destruction of computer labs, libraries, classrooms, and dormitories.

While the Pretoria agreement signed on Nov 2, 2022, has brought some stability to the region, there are still numerous formidable challenges ahead. The Tigray Interim government aims to embark on a massive reconstruction effort, one that’s expected to carry a price tag in the billions of dollars. In this broader mission, the Al-Nejashi Reconstruction and Development Initiative (ARDI) is committed to playing a meaningful role.

The primary objective of Al-Nejashi Reconstruction and Development Initiative (ARDI) is to lead a comprehensive enterprise to rebuild and develop the Al-Nejashi mosque and its surrounding areas. Within this broad engagement, one of the most significant undertakings is the establishment of a comprehensive world-class university where different disciplines, including Islamic theology and philosophy, will be taught. This university, which will be the only one of its kind in Ethiopia, has a profound goal which other universities in the country do not have: to promote and share Islamic knowledge and culture, not only within Ethiopia but across the entire African continent. The vision for this university is to become a hub for Islamic education, where various dimensions of Islam’s global role, its history, and the culture associated with it will be extensively explored and taught. Needless to say, the initial step in this endeavor is the restoration of the damaged Al-Nejashi mosque. This mosque carries deep historical and cultural significance, and its renovation is crucial for preserving the region’s rich heritage. A fully restored mosque will not only serve as a place of worship but also as a symbol of hope, unity, and a gathering point for people to practice their faith. Besides fixing the damaged mosque to its original form and preserving its historical significance to posterity, ARDI wishes to build a modern mosque that is big enough to accommodate many worshipers who are expected to visit from different corners of the continent, and indeed the world.

The Al-Nejashi Reconstruction and Development Initiative strives to put its imprint on the education sector of Tigray by establishing a world-class university in the environs of the Al-Nejashi mosque, with the long-term goal of contributing to strong education in the entire region. Through this initiative, ARDI also aspires to restore an important part of the cultural, historical, and educational heritage of Tigray. The impact of this effort could extend far beyond the region, promoting peace, tolerance, and understanding, and enriching our understanding of Islamic knowledge and culture.

We invite all those who believe in this vision to join us by volunteering in different areas of our day-to-day work and providing financial support to help ARDI achieve these critical objectives. Please write to us at for any query and we will be glad to respond to you.

Let us enumerate some specifics of the benefits ARDI’s engagement in the education realm can bring about in the region, and beyond.

  • Establishing the World-Class University: A core part of ARDI’s mission on education is to create a top-tier university. This university will offer comprehensive education, covering a wide range of subjects, including Islamic education. This institution won’t only provide high-quality education for the Ethiopian youth but will also attract students from across Africa and be- yond. In addition to the traditional subjects, it’s curriculum will encompass various aspects of Islamic knowledge, history, and culture, making it a center for comprehensive learning.
  • Promoting Tolerance and Understanding: The university will play a pivotal role in fostering tolerance and understanding among diverse com- munities. It will be a place where students of different backgrounds can come together to learn about Islam and its role in shaping the world. By promoting intercultural dialogue and mutual respect, the university can contribute to regional peace and harmony.
  • Addressing Educational Gaps: The destruction of educational infrastructure during the conflict has left significant gaps in the region’s educational system. The university, in conjunction with other reconstruction efforts, will help address these gaps, providing young people with access to quality education and empowering them to build a brighter future.
  • Economic and Social Development: The university will not only serve as an educational institution but also as an economic and social catalyst for the region. It will create jobs, stimulate local businesses, and attract investment, ultimately contributing to the economic development of Tigray.
  • Research and Knowledge Dissemination: The university will encourage research and the dissemination of knowledge in the field of Islamic studies. Scholars and researchers will have a platform to explore various aspects of Islam, contributing to the global academic community’s understanding of this vital culture and religion.

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