This bi-annual award to IIU scholars who produce outstanding, excellent and exemplary academic work was established in honour of the memory of al-marhum Professor Ismail Raji al-Faruqi who, during his lifetime, had made profound and invaluable contributions not only to Islamic scholarship but to learning as a whole. Indeed, I was most privileged to have been given the opportunity of knowing him personally, as a leading scholar of his generation and as a friend. To be sure, he exacted uncompromising intellectual standards and lived by a strict regiment of academic discipline. But, at the same time, he was never lost in mere philosophical abstractions. He was acutely conscious of the realities of the time and the condition of the contemporary ummah. In this regard, he exemplified the conjunction between theoretical learning, ilm, and the righteous deeds, amal salih. He devoted the best years of his life, before his death under tragic circumstances, to the upliftment of the ummah, in inspiring and guiding its youth especially.