This institute was founded with the twin objectives of preservation and progress: preservation of the tradition, and progress in facing up to the challenges of the present age. Enclosed within this vision was the specific objective of becoming a centre of excellence in serving the needs of higher Islamic education in general, and, in particular, that of the Shāfiʿī madhhab to which the people of the Cape largely subscribe.
The study of Islam is not simply an area of academic investigation. It is the continuation of a legacy, a legacy that was initiated with the revelation of ʾiqraʾ, whose foundations were laid over the 23 years of Prophethood, and whose edifice was raised by successive generations of keenly devoted scholars for well over a thousand years. The type of individualism that places the investigator in the centre and ignores the legacy of the discipline is foreign to Islam. Knowledge is handed down through a legacy of scholarship. The student, as the recipient of knowledge, becomes heir to that legacy. By inheriting the legacy the student becomes part of it, and it is then through that student that the legacy is perpetuated.
The legacy itself transcends time, but every subsequent age brings with it unprecedented challenges. It is only when the challenges of an age have been met that the claim of preserving a tradition becomes tenable. The dynamism inherent within the legacy of knowledge in Islam makes it possible for it to meet all challenges. Every instance of interaction between challenges and the legacy adds to the wealth of the legacy itself. Thus does the legacy progress and develop. In this way, preservation and progress goes hand in hand.