News

Ambassador-at-Large for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Processes for UN Visits Tabah

 On Tuesday 29 November 2016, Tabah Foundation was pleased to receive Mr. Pekka Metso, Ambassador-at-Large for Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Processes at the Unit for UN and General Global Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Mr. Metso met with Habib Ali al-Jifri, Tabah Foundation’s Chairman, Noureddin Harthi, CEO, Adel al-Kaff, Manager of Initiatives, and Abaas Yunas, Analyst at Tabah Futures Initiative.
Mr al-Jifri welcomed Mr Metso to Tabah Foundation and highlighted the key importance of dialogue and interreligious exchange. He explained that the world today is in need of dialogue that stems from a shared value of respect and acknowledgement of the plurality of thought that distinguishes the various regions of the world. Mr. Yunas introduced Tabah Foundation’s mission and areas of expertise, and highlighted Tabah’s recent initiatives and research themes, and its view on events in the region and beyond, including extremism and trends in religious identity.
Mr. Metso commented on the need for a deeper appreciation and comprehension of the role of religion in the contemporary world, and commended Tabah’s efforts in advancing the discourse on understanding this role. Mr Metso explained initiatives that his unit has run and their experience in fostering dialogue and understanding in Finland and the region.

Tabah Foundation Participates in Fez Summit 2011-03-17

Walead Mosaad, Cultural and Education Project Manager, attended the 3 day summit held in Fez, Morocco entitled “Towards an Alliance of the Middle Way, and organized by the Radical Middle Way organization. It brought together such notable luminaries as Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayya, who spoke about the challenges scholars face in addressing contemporary societies, Habib Umar bi Hafiz, who spoke about the scholars’ role in developing virtuous societies, and Shaykh Usama Al-Sayyid, who spoke about the role of Al-Azhar in the formation of the Egyptian Muslim. The Mufti of Bosnia, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, also addressed the summit, speaking about the need for a spiritual revolution in Muslim communities, as well as Shaykh Muhammad Qaribullah, the head of the Samanniya Sufi order in Sudan, speaking on the importance of maintaining and preserving the natural environment, and Shaykh Abdulhakim Murad, speaking about the need for a renewed spiritual discourse for Muslim minorities in Western countries. Also in attendance were some of Morocco’s esteemed scholars from the Qarawiyyin University, such as Shaykh Muhammad bin Hamid Al-Saqqili, Shaykh Abdulaziz Al-Qassar, and Shaykh Idris Al-Fihri.

On his part, Walead chaired the session entitled “Understanding Our Message”, and spoke about the foundations of the Muhammadan message that unite all Muslims. In addition to attendance of the summit, Walead was also part of a delegation that met with the Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs in Morocco, and also visited the newly opened Dar Al-Hadith Al-Hasanyia College in Rabat, Morocco.

External link: fez.radicalmiddleway.co.uk

The Moroccan Experience in Restoring Religious Discourse to an Authentic Approach

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In the context of its genuine interest in reshaping contemporary Islamic discourse and providing research and consulting services in Abu Dhabi, the Tabah Foundation hosted Prof. Dr. Ahmad Abbadi, the Secretary General of the Muhammadiyah Association of Scholars in Morocco, who gave a lecture in the Tabah Intellectual Tent, titled “The Moroccan Experience in Restoring Religious Discourse to its Authentic Approach”.

In his beneficial and interesting speech, Dr. Abbadi described this experience as a story of crossing from an intellectual geometry to restoring equilibrium to a state of flux, order and authenticity, with renewal in religious speech, inseparable from its purposes, objectives, approaches and programs. It is a six-dimensional geometry that begins with Guardianship (walayat al-amr), the tasks of which include being decisive in establishing peace; the Supreme Scientific Council, which branches out into numerous scientific boards and is concerned with giving guidance according the adopted and followed rules and Fatwa, headed by Guardian to ensure compliance to the set rules. These scientific councils oversee the sustainable development of Imams and prepare them along the lines of the Charter of Scientists’ plan. Additionally, such councils oversee the lessons given in mosques in order to monitor them and maintain control.

Scientific councils supervise all the Sharia institutes and they are entrusted with reviving the al-Qarawiyyin, in addition to considering the context and the areas it covers, hence conducting ongoing contextual studies which care for the religion’s legitimate and realistic dimensions.

The Muhammadiyah Association of Scholars in Morocco was assigned massive tasks across 21 research units, including units dedicated to combating extremism, others for addressing various deviant behaviors, capacity-building and preparing a homogeneous generation of intellectuals and scholars in accordance with formative guides. This is in addition to the “Board & Pen” unit, which cares for children and gathers both the children of royal families and the children of shelters under the same umbrella. This unit with its well-studied programs has been very useful; it has 35,000 articles written by children for children. Such endeavors seek to protect the young people and generations from invasion by aberrations, misguided and diseased ideas and extremism.

Dr. Abbadi stressed the need to dismantle the powerful slogans and false claims with which ISIS seeks to attract the youth, revealing ISIS’ misguided paths and evil deviations and showing how they are, in fact, mavericks (using the expression of the Prophet) when it comes to matters dealing with major necessities; i.e. preservation of religion, life, intellect, lineage and wealth, all of which ISIS violates, infringes and offends.

The lecturer stated that the Kingdom of Morocco exerts much effort to care for these necessities through enforcing the function of the state and its role to ensure the safety of its people, care for their security and secure and develop the conditions of their life and affairs.

The attendees interacted with valuable interjections and questions that focused on benefitting from the Moroccan experience – and the role of scholars and society at all levels in combating extremism to care for the nation’s youth and prevent them from slipping into the traps of aberration, delusion and fanaticism, through highlighting the authentic structure of their religion’s construction and necessities (as established since the era of prophecy on compassion and beauty, as well as the development of the youth’s capacities’ and investment in righteousness, giving, knowledge and growth).

Among the attendees were scientists, advisors, ambassadors, diplomats, researchers and media figures, including His Eminence Mr Ali Hashemi, Advisor to the President of the United Arab Emirates for Religious and Judicial Affairs; Adam Shahedov, Advisor to the President of Chechnya for Religion Affairs; His Eminence Sheikh Osama Al-Azhari, Advisor to the President of Egypt for Religious Affairs; Dr. Idris al-Fihri, Imam of al-Qarawiyyin Mosque; Dr. Ahmed Mamdouh, Egyptian Dar Al-Ifta; a high-level delegation from the Sufi Complex in Sudan and a number of ambassadors and their deputies, including Mohamed Ait Ali, the Moroccan Ambassador to UAE; Hatem Al Saim, the Tunisian Ambassador; Dr. Aref Nayed, the Libyan Ambassador and Mr. Sayed Abdullah BaAlawy, the Comoros Ambassador, in addition to a number of employees from various research and study centers in the state. Among the interventions that took place in that gathering was initiated by a comment from Dr. Mona Al Bahar, former member of the National Council and Dr. Hessa Lootah, Media Professor at the UAE University.

Hasan Spiker Presents Original Research in Ottoman Kalam Conference

The Ottoman Kalam Conference in Istanbul, funded jointly by Recep Senturk’s Istanbul Research and Education Foundation (ISAR) and the think tank Kalam Research and Media, took place at the Islamic Research Centre in Istanbul (ISAM, home to one of the world’s premiere research libraries for Islamic studies) on the 24, 25 and 26 of December.

Hasan Spiker represented Tabah Foundation at the event, presenting original research on the little known Ottoman theologian Ibn Bahāʾuddīn, who in his al-Qawl al-Faṣl married mystical elements from the school of Ibn Arabi with the developed Kalam of Jurjānī, Taftāzānī, Hocazade and others. Other attendees included the Kalam author Professor Ilyas Çelebi, philosophy academic Professor Alparslan Açıkgenç, and the Kalam educator Dr. Said Foudah. The symposium brought together more than 40 researchers from across the world, and will be celebrated in a forthcoming publication, which will bring together the various papers presented at the event.

Watch https://youtu.be/tWilHFiAaDg

Tabah‘s Futures Initiative Releases a Landmark Report on the Attitudes of Arab Muslim Millennials on Religion and Religious Leadership

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The Futures Initiative at Tabah Foundation will be releasing the results for a landmark survey on how Arab millennials are thinking about their faith in the midst of the immense changes and developments in the region and the world.

Tabah’s Futures Initiative commissioned Zogby Research Services, Washington, USA, to conduct face-to-face interviews with five thousand Muslims between the ages of 15-34 in eight Arab countries: Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, and Palestine. The key themes addressed by the survey include religious identity, religion in the public sphere, millennial understandings of faith and devotion, religion and contemporary relevance, scholarship and learning, and ideological and thought trends that impact religious life.

The results will be released in Abu Dhabi on January 12, 2016 and will be available for download at mmasurvey.tabahfoundation.org.

The Futures Initiative at Tabah Foundation conducts research and analysis on emerging trends in the modern world, with an eye toward better understanding how they impact Muslim communities in the present and future.

For more information, please contact staff at the Futures Initiative: futuresinitiative[at]tabahfoundation.org

Lessons from East Asia – Should the Arab World Turn East?

This week, Tabah Foundation welcomed Dr. Shaojin Chai, a senior researcher at the Ministry of Culture in the UAE and former lecturer in Zayed University and American University of Sharjah, to give two lectures on examining the native cultural models of East Asia and the challenges faced by East Asian nations in retaining their cultural identities and indigenous values throughout modernization.

During the 20th century China experienced both the Communist and Cultural Revolutions, which sought to replace any aspect of the “old culture”, including the framework of Confucianism, with modern ideologies. After these spiritual aspects of the old world were eradicated, the competing forces of communism, nationalism, capitalism, and individualism would take precedent. Many Chinese revolutionaries believed that this was the only way to achieve modernity and that the old concepts of spirituality would be long forgotten as a result.

However, Dr. Shaojin argued that there has been a revival in traditional Confucian values in East Asia despite the attempts to remove native religious and spiritual thought. In Japan, the third largest economy in the world, the economy flourished as it incorporated traditional values in the business world. Despite Western influences, South Korea became a mixed economy as it saw the need to maintain the welfare of its people. The desire to retain traditional values can be found in Korean dramas which espouse care for the family unit and relatives.

Even China, despite having much of its religious traditions suppressed, has started to see its own revival. In rural China, self-governance and local rule has been permitted in stark contrast to governing principles in the official state ideology. Recent studies have emerged on the effect of traditional values within villages, showing that villages which preserved religious values contained less corruption. In cities, developments have emerged to find that the population is turning more towards religion and spirituality. According to Dr. Shaojin, “though the western models of secularization attempted to replace the spiritual void with material wellbeing, the people of China still longed for spiritual wellbeing”.

Concluding the lecture, Dr. Shaojin proposed that examining East Asian models of development, in which cultural revival and preservation has been recogised, could be an alternative for the Arab world as it struggles to resist cultural erosion amidst the pressures of western models of development.

“Any culture that wants to progress must first understand its own culture.”
While models are not perfect in every context, the Arab world can use the example of the East to be mindful of self-development. Identity must be retained with progress, whether that is found in language or religion.

 

This lecture was presented as part of the Futures Initiative at Tabah Foundation.

Tolerance & Coexistence in the 21st Century from Abu Dhabi

The Tabah Foundation in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy in the UAE, and under the auspices of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, organized a nighttime symposium replete with a diverse multitude of attendees on Tuesday March 10th, 2015 at the InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi’s Auditorium. The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. John Andrew Morrow—a Canadian scholar who lectures at Ivy Tech Community College, USA—joined by prominent guests including Sheikh Ahmad Al Kubaisi, Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Canadian Ambassador in Abu Dhabi Arif Lalani, and Chairman of the Tabah Foundation Habib Ali Al Jifri, alongside a select elite of diplomats and social dignitaries.

The evening was kick-started by a tour of an exhibition showcasing a collection of photocopied documents and manuscripts discovered by Dr. Morrow in his critically acclaimed study on “The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World.” In his speech, Morrow referred to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s treaties with the Jews and Christians since the very beginnings of Islam, and mentioned that these covenants continued to be honored during the reign of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and through the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, all the way to down the Ottoman Empire. He pointed out that records of these covenants were not only found in Islamic sources but also detected in other sources, such as Christian-Arab sources and translated into a number of languages including Latin, Ancient Greek, Assyrian, and Persian. Dr. Morrow further indicated that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s covenants with the Christians of Najran and Persia, as well as Assyrian and Orthodox Christians, Egyptian Copts, and Abyssinian Christians, invariably underpin the values of tolerance, equality and peaceful coexistence amongst all, in an unprecedented and advanced move for an era marked by intolerance of pluralism.

The Chairman of the Tabah Foundation—Habib Ali Al Jifri—then commented on Morrow’s speech, saying: “We are today at a momentous turning point in Muslim history, in light of the presence of those who ascribe the crimes and perversities committed to the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh); such a correspondence is forbidden and unacceptable, since there is no such thing as a moderate or an extremist Islam, rather, there are moderate Muslims and extremist Muslims.” After that, Sheikh Ahmad Al Kubaisi and Ambassador Arif Lalani each delivered separate short speeches. Subsequently, tweeters interacted with the event on social media networking site Twitter using the hashtag #المعاهدات_النبوية for Arabic speakers and #CovenantsUAE for English speakers.

Furthermore, the Tabah Foundation held a number of specialized debate circles for the purpose of engaging specialists among the attendants in the discussion on par with roundtable debates on the one hand, with its guest Dr. John Morrow on the same topic. A roundtable was held for scholars and researchers, another for Arab diplomats, and a third for non-Arab speaking diplomats, besides a meeting with Arab academics and clerisy. The event also included two televised programs on Wednesday evening: one on Sky News Arabia hosting Dr. Morrow and Habib Ali Al Jifri, and an interview with Morrow on Al Arabiya Channel. Dr. Morrow and Habib Al Jifri then paid a visit to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, where the former presented the UAE Minister with a copy of one of the prophetic covenants as a souvenir.

The Tabah Foundation has been keen on organizing these wide-ranging activities and events springing from its mission to “Re-enabling Islamic discourse to recover its ability to understand the real world context” and to propagate an international message highlighting that tolerance, coexistence, and respect of different faiths, human beings, and non-Muslim communities in the region is a genuine call launched since the days of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and to clarify that what we are witnessing today in terms of murder and slaughtering of Muslims and non-Muslims alike amounts to a disfigurement of the commands of the Prophet (pbuh) and a deviation there-from.

Related Links

Video promoting the symposium

– News Release: A “Roadmap” for “Tolerance & Coexistence” from Abu Dhabi – Al Ittihad Newspaper .
– News Release: Returning to the Roots of Islam—A Necessity for the Umma’s Proegression – Al Bayan Newspaper.
– News release: Lecture in Abu Dhabi stresses awareness – about true Islam – The National.
– News Release: Islam is not against other religions, says scholar – Khaleej Times.
– Sky News Arabia Interview Video.
– Sky News Arabia Interview Transcript.
– Al Arabiya Channel Interview Video.

Taabah Foundation Senior Fellow presents at the Program on Medicine and Religion

On Sunday 3 August and Monday 4 August 2014, Tabah Senior Fellow, Jihad Hashim Brown, participated in the Initiative on Islam and Medicine Working Group at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics.
The Working Group convenes its sessions with support of the John Templeton Foundation. The objectives of this round were to “Review the conceptual definitions and major debates regarding what ‘health’ consists of with an eye towards considering the telos of medicine/public health and how it relates to human flourishing;” and, “Introduce the major concepts related to the science of medical prognostication, risk assessment, and population health epidemiology. Specifically we will focus on concepts of and the tools assess risk at the clinical (patient) and community levels.”

Brown in his paper presented on “the theological conceptualisation and ethico-legal definition of maslaha (public benefit and medical risk)”; as well as, “the relationship between maslaha (public benefit), maqasid (aims & purposes), and darurah (dire necessity)”.

Islam’s Ban on Child Combatants, Latest Article by Musa Furber

Tabah Fellow Musa Furber wrote an article concerning children serving as combatants. Children have been used as combatants by certain Muslim parties in recent and current conflicts, including Afghanistanthe BalkansIraqSyria, and Yemen. The use of child combatants—whether voluntary or coerced—contravenes the actions of the Prophet Mohammad ﷺ and the Shari‘ah.

Muslim scholars and leaders need to educate the general public concerning the unlawful status of these actions, and that they must cease supporting those who call for, or enable, the use of child combatants.

Full Article:

AlArabiya News – Islam’s Ban on Child Combatants

Seminar: The Rationality of Islamic Tradition within the Context of Contemporary Thought

Tabah Foundation held a seminar entitled ‘The Rationality of Islamic Tradition within the Context of Contemporary Thought.’ The seminar took place during the semi-annual meeting of Tabah’s Senior Scholars Council. It shed light on a recently released research publication by Tabah on postmodern thinking by Dr. Karim Lahham, Senior Research Fellow at Tabah Foundation and Barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, UK.

Featuring some of the most-renowned Islamic personalities, the participants were led by the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and member of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars Dr. Ali Gomaa, Chief of the Board of Tabah Foundation Al-Habib Ali Al-Jifri, the Libyan Ambassador to UAE and chairman of Kalam Research and Media Dr. Aref Nayed, in addition to a number of professors from Zayed University and a distinguished group of academics and competent experts.

Al-Habib al-Jifri inaugurated the event by pointing out that the region is standing at a cultural juncture, the early introductions of which date back three or four hundred years ago. He asserted that during the current period we are witnessing fast-paced cultural transformation accompanied by a state of comatose blanketing attempts of renewal stemming from our scholarly tradition which are based on an accurate conception of changes in human reality. He added that the current Islamic discourse faces a problem with regard to the possibility of the continuation of its connectedness with its uninterrupted chain of transmission (whether in relation to narration, comprehension, or moral purification); and with regard to the scholarly gradualism which the Muslim community had grown accustomed to being tied to an established methodology, along with an ability to confront present-day challenges.

The seminar was facilitated by Sheikh Usamah al-Azhari, director of the Office of The Message of al-Azhar. Dr. Karim Lahham—the author of the research work in discussion—delivered a paper addressing the consequences of the concepts upon which modernists base their understanding of Islam. He criticized modernists’ raucous voice in their calls for reform, along with epistemological and philosophical poorness in terms of founding real intellectual reform.

Dr. Lahham’s paper concentrated on the extent of such modernists’ comprehension of philosophical principals, along with their accuracy in applying them to the Islamic tradition. He admonished the modernists and postmodernists for incarceration in an “ideological cave” of assumptions. This condition spawned a host of barriers separating Muslims from their own legacy—a legacy that is replete with discerning research methodologies. The gravity of this condition stems from its reduction of faith to religious rituals, and to the political domain through the imposition of epistemological barriers between man and religion. Dr. Lahham warned against the danger of the grave attempts by modernists resulting in the absence of a multitude of re-categorizing sciences, along with their modus operandi in terms of structuring concepts and philosophies based upon scientific rules. At the end of the paper, he called for a comprehensive reconsideration of the relational configuration between traditional sciences and for re-extracting the hidden gems lying latent in the Muslim intellect, including its catalog of sciences and disciplines.

Sheikh Saeed Fouda, a researcher in the discipline of kalam (scholastic theology), commented on Dr. Lahham’s lecture by commending the depth of its substance, objectives and outcomes, and its endeavor to deconstruct the intellectual, philosophical and epistemological foundations upon which the modernist intellectual school of thought depends. Sheikh Fouda also referred to features of contemporary philosophy that holistically addresses human beings—rather than human intellect—as a referential yardstick for understanding the world. This is a characteristic feature of postmodern thinking; a symptom that we have been suffering from particularly with respect to the postulation that the mind does not exist by itself, as argued by Nietzsche. The latter considered reason as one of the causes of humanity’s regress. Sheikh Fouda highlighted that postmodern thinking does not acknowledge the existence of a priori concepts and that its proponents describe reason, in their own words, as an idol that must be shattered.

Following Sheikh Fouda’s critique, the floor was opened for comments from the attendance. Dr. Ali Gomaa initiated the session by addressing the definitions of reason offered by Muslim in addition to the “four pillars of reason”: the Brain, sound senses, sensed reality and prior information. This quadrate explains the content and conditions and basis of taklif (moral and legal responsibility) in Islam. Dr. Gomaa confirmed the importance of the role of previous information, with its two sources being revelation and the world. For Muslim scholars, knowledge is taken from both books of revelation; the holy Quran, and the world. Through understanding both books of revelation Muslim scholars credited revelation as a source of knowledge. Muslims learn from both books knowing there is no contradiction between them. In case where a contradiction arises they know it is due to their understanding of the Qur’anic text not the sacred text itself. This is what drove Islamic scholars to divide the Qur’anic text—all of which is definitive in terms of its authenticity (qat‘i al-thubut)—into two categories: definitive in meaning (qat‘i al-dalalah), and speculative in meaning (dhanni al-dalalah). Revelation is therefore neither superior nor antithetical to reason, but rather it is one of its sources. The same applies to the universe: it is a source of reason and if a contradiction arises, the universe then takes precedence over speculative understanding of the scriptural text. Dr. Gomaa also dealt with the topic of the collective consciousness or mind (al-‘aql al-jam‘i), which is considered an essential and indispensible element in the structure of the intellect.

Dr. Aref Nayedh’s comment followed, shedding light on modernists’ incoherence, which he claimed to be no more than a new kind of sophistry and fallacy in their approach in interpretation of Quran. The so-called “Qur’anist school” _which considers Quran the only source of Tashree’_ subscribes to this approach. It is noticeable in this school’s literature—as well as in postmodern literature—that the scriptural text is analyzed through certain mechanisms such as metaphorical interpretation, semiotics, hermeneutics and structuralism. The interpretive approach of this school has slipped into error as a result of its examination of the relations between meanings without referring to the relevant circumstantial prerequisites, like the prerequisites of the historical condition (for example: on the issue of circumstances of revelation, or asbāb al-nuzul), prerequisites of the accumulative condition, or what is known as the collective mind. Extirpating Qur’anic text out of its historical context, from the Prophetic Sunnah which is its interpretative reference, and from the uninterrupted chains of narrations, has led them to falling into such fallacy during their attempt to interpret Qur’anic texts. In the concluding section of his comment, Dr. Nayedh stressed the dire need for the contribution of the discipline of kalam and to connecting this discipline with contemporary philosophies.

Dr. Ali El-Konaissi, Professor of Philosophy and Islamic Studies at Zayed University, followed by commenting that Muslim philosophers—led by al-Kindi—expanded in their engagement with theories of the mind. They interpreted, explained and extracted—not to mention corrected—all ideas on the mind derived from Greek philosophy after first translating Greek works into Arabic. He cited the example of the al-Kindi’s critique and amending Aristotle’s theory of hylomorphism in the work De Anima which was translated into Arabic under the title Fi maheyat al-‘aql (On the Essence of the Intellect). Aristotle asserts that the intellect is divided into two types: an active, and a passive type. In response, and based on his deep comprehension of the essence of religion, al-Kindi reclassified the intellect in a new way. He argued instead that there are four types of the intellect: (1) the primary (or First) intellect, which belongs to God; (2) the potential intellect, which is the human intellect and the tool of connection to primary intellect; (3) the acquired, and; (4) the demonstrative intellect.

The paper presented is part of the Tabah Papers series produced by Tabah Research. The objective of the paper is to probe the conceptual structures upon which the writings of postmodernist thinkers are founded. The work concludes that any thinker or writer is the heir of the gamut of concepts or conceptual orders which surface in his or her writings whether consciously or otherwise. Any given concept is neither an orphan nor has no origin. Thus, the validity of any concept largely relies on the origin of its genealogy. Consequently, the value of any idea is commensurate to the value of its origin. This is what the researcher has attempted to trace and evaluate in his work.

To read the presented paper, please click here