Currently enrolled RGS students may now register for Spring courses through Populi.
The course introduces students to what J. Samuel Preus has referred to as the “research tradition” focusing on the nature and function of religion, which emerged in the West beginning with the Enlightenment and continues today in the academia. The course will include the contributions of major thinkers whose work has profoundly shaped the critical analysis of religion in the Western scholarship. Students will be encouraged: to appreciate the insight and creativity of leading thinkers; to map the ways in which various theories and methods either complement or conflict with one another; to evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of the theories; to determine which elements of these theories they might integrate into their own critical thinking about religion; and to discuss the applicability of sophisticated theory to teaching about religion in more popular settings.
This course is designed to introduce students to the Qur’an, both as Islamic revelation par excellence and as a richly complex and multi-layered text which has invited a variety of different hermeneutical approaches, both from within and outside of Muslim faith contexts. The course proceeds with a dual focus. The first focus involves familiarizing students with the content of Qur’anic teaching by direct engagement with the “major themes” of the Qur’an. The second focus involves familiarizing students with both classical Muslim exegetical and hermeneutical approaches to the Qur’an (especially the “sciences” of intra-textual interpretation, abrogation, and context-of-revelation criticism) as well as modern and post-modern secular approaches to questions regarding the provenance, nature, compilation, canonization, and interpretation of the Qur’an. Specific attention will be given throughout to introducing students to the major textual resources available for Qur’an study, including the classical and contemporary Muslim commentary literature.
The overall aim of this course is to encourage students to appreciate and critically engage the breadth and depth of the issues and genres that comprise the classical heritage of Islamic thought and literature. It surveys the most significant traditions of pre-Islamic Arabian, Islamic, and Islamic thought and literature. The course begins with an introduction to two of the most important extra-Qur’anic genres of Islamic literature: the so-called sira-maghazi tradition, and the hadith collections. It will then proceed to review other important trends in Islamic thought, including the juridical, theological, mystical, literary, and poetic.
The course introduces students to the major themes and figures of the two primary non-jurisprudential disciplines of classical Muslim thought: dialectical (or what is sometimes referred to as “scholastic”) theology [Ar. kalam] and philosophy [Ar. falsafa] both as discrete and profoundly interconnected disciplines. The course covers the period between the 2nd/8th and 6th/12th centuries and surveys theology and philosophy both as discrete and profoundly interconnected disciplines. Students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with both the content and methodologies employed in some of the significant controversies and debates which arose among Muslim intellectual circles and schools of the dominant theological and philosophical discourses of the Late Antique and medieval Mediterranean and the West Asian world.
The course is a general introduction to the nature and history of Islamic spirituality through an exploration of the diverse traditions of Muslim mystical piety. It begins with an examination of the roots of Muslim spirituality in the Qur’an and Sunna and then move to a historical and contextual analysis of the emergence of early Muslim asceticism; the development of the spiritual manual and Sufi didactic/apologetic treatise genres; controversy over the relationship between the Shari`a and the spiritual path (Ar. tariqa); mere Muslim asceticism versus Sufism; tensions between “ecstatic” and “sober” expressions of mystical devotion (i.e., sakr v. sahw); the role of Sufism in classical Islamic epistemology; and the evolution of institutional Sufism and its many dimensions. The course will conclude with reflections on the role of Sufism in contemporary Islamic renewal and reform movements, as well as the recent quasi-sectarian developments in the relationship between Sufism and neo-Salafism.
This course introduces students to Islamic law and legal theories. It first discusses the history of formation and development of Classical Islamic law and its sources. It also examines the implementation of Islamic law as a practice. The course then proceeds to discuss the historical development of Islamic legal theories through two major aspects of legal theory: Fuqaha and Mutakallimun. A significant part of the course deals with the contemporary approaches and challenges to Islamic Law and developments in Islamic legal thinking in modern times.
This course is designed as a comprehensive introduction to the study of the prophetic traditions as a significant branch of Islamic studies. The course begins with a survey of the history of the development of the canonical collections of hadith literature, with an eye both to traditional Muslim understandings of this process as well as to Western approaches. Special attention is given to the methodologies of classical Muslim hadith criticism for the purposes of authentication and the concomitant “sciences of hadith” developed for these purposes and to how these methods compare and contrast with contemporary approaches to hadith criticism. The course then proceeds to explore the function of hadith in Muslim religious scholarship, especially jurisprudence, Qur’anic exegesis, theology, and spirituality before moving on to cover the major trends in contemporary Muslim hadith criticism. Throughout the course, students are introduced to the major tools of hadith studies in order to facilitate further study and research in this area.
This course examines religious diversity in both religiously pluralistic societies such as the United States and largely religiously uniform societies such as India and Turkey. The course will address questions of how Muslims have historically and in the present engaged religious pluralism in both theory and practice, particularly with respect to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It will also examine recent developments in selected Islamist political theologies of violent resistance and exclusion, as well as recent developments in Islamic theologies of religious pluralism and the latter’s relationship to Islamic principles of social justice and participatory government. Particular attention will be given to efforts that provide for inter-religious dialogue, understanding and mutual cooperation in local communities, national organizations and international arenas.
The first aim of this course is to provide students with basic skills centered on community care necessary for the ministry of Islamic religious leadership in a North American context. The second aim of the course is to make the students have essential skills that deal with religious education and outreach into the wider community. The course seeks to introduce students to the habitus of these skills: i.e., what they entail, how critical they are, and how vital it is to be committed to their lifelong cultivation.
This course will enable the student to read the Qur’an and classical texts by providing the tools that unlock the Arabic language – morphology (the study of the word), grammar (the study of the sentence), and lexicography (the relationship of words to meanings). By accessing the basic structure of the word –the tri-lateral root– students can then go on to deciphering meanings based upon standard structures associated with the addition of “extra” letters to the tri-lateral root. This classic style of learning has served students of Arabic in the traditional curriculum and continues to do so in contemporary times.
Through this course, the students will be able to strengthen their knowledge of grammar they learned in Arabic I and to enrich their vocabulary. Students will analyze Arabic texts written on various subjects in different Islamic sciences under the tutelage of the instructor. The course then will give them the opportunity of putting their theoretical knowledge into practice.
CPE is an off-campus course in supervised ministry in inter-religious settings accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. The centers include hospitals, correctional institutions, nursing homes and other agencies. Normally students are to apply for admission to a program at a center six months in advance of starting the program. The course is aimed at developing the student’s self-awareness, learning ministry skills, and theological reflection on the human condition.
Research Techniques introductions students to the various modes of research and critical thinking both in Religious and Islamic Studies. The basic skills and processes associated with developing research questions, reviewing relevant literature, conducting research by using efficient tools and time management techniques are discussed. Qualitative and quantitative research methods are reviewed. The subject also covers key basic principles in academic writing, including referencing and citation methods. Students will be encouraged to develop their own original ideas and formulate research proposals that demonstrate their understanding of applied research. The course provides opportunities to apply various research methods to students’ own areas of interest and to write for publication in Religious and Islamic Studies.
This course aims to discuss the main Islamic ethical theories. It will cover the kalam, falsafa and tasawwuf and give a holistic picture for understanding the multidimensional nature of Islamic ethics. For a better understanding of the theories in question, there will be comparisons from the ethical theories of Western philosophy. At the end of the course, students examine some practical problems in the contemporary world and apply the theories we have covered to them. We will survey the discussions concerning the role of the Qur’an and Tradition in shaping ethical theories, the source of morality, the moral traits of human beings and how to develop them, as well as the interrelation between ethical teaching and other disciplines that examine social and natural phenomena.
“This course aims to give a holistic picture of the origins, accomplishments, and the so-called “decline” of Islamic Civilization by tracing the theoretical perspectives behind it. The focus is on the medieval institutions of Islamic civilization, the various sciences and arts that have been practiced by Muslims, the background philosophies and interactions with Western civilization.
The course surveys issues related to Islam and women based on the Islamic primary texts and secondary literature. We analyze Islamic texts and consider the historical and cultural state of women’s intellectual activities since the beginning of Islam, including Qur’anic narratives about women. Due consideration is given to the biographies and works on Muslim women figures, scholars and Sufi mystics. Sources and issues related to women in Islam will be analyzed from the perspective of its relation to the modern world.
“Islam and Global Politics” is a political theoretical investigation into the features of our fully automated political age. Students will learn to identify the following phenomena and discourses: global capitalism; human rights; democracy; state sovereignty; and the morally autonomous self. Where and how does Islam configure points of entry into this setup? What does ‘religion’ mean in the world today, and how are competing Muslim authorities navigating this assignment? We will look at traditional scholars, Sufi orders, and revivalist movements in diverse settings involving social change, ethnic conflict, and economic development for indications of what and how Islam is doing within the ebb and flow of global politics today. Postcolonial conditions, Muslims’ relationship to and responsibility toward the global underclass, and the concept of political theology will be historically situated and discussed.
This course is designed to provide students with the ability to recite the Qur’an according to the rules of tajwid. Students focus on both the theory and practice of tajwid, including the internal and external “manners” (Ar. adab) of proper recitation. Students will be exposed to these various principles through practical instruction and through the example of such renowned reciters. Students are also expected to memorize the following chapters of the Qur’an as they develop their own skills as reciters: 89. al-Fajr – 114. al-Nas
The course will give students a clear understanding of the financial system in which modern Islamic finance operates. The course’s focus is on developing understandings of how Shariah rules including those concerning interest (riba) are applied in financial operations, products, and environments. Rules derived from historical fiqh rulings as well as specific faith based moral imperatives are included in modern Islamic financial concerns and procedures. Since several countries have systemized rules to allow the emergence of robust domestic Islamic banking and capital markets activities, participants will learn how and why Islamic financial products are structured to meet certain government, business, and consumer financial needs. They will learn key rules, the means to layer structures or to analyze why complex fiscal products are either successful or controversial. These products will be given context: banking or investment banking, specific countries, and generic applications. The course will take into account key standard setting bodies and their rulings such as the Accounting & Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions, the International Islamic Financial Markets, as well the Malaysian, Bahraini and American regulators. In order to promote understanding, the course is neutral in the analysis and application of different standards, systems, and styles. The course will follow practical case studies drawn from Muslim majority and minority markets, from conventional and Islamic banks, and environments with and without clear regulations.
This course will cover the content of the main world religions. We will consider Asian cyclical religions and the Western linear religions in their historical and cultural contexts. Given the realities of the increasing multi-faith character of North American society, individuals and congregations find themselves interacting with people and groups of a variety of different faiths. Visits to the sacred spaces of traditions other than Islam should be anticipated. The course will provide a chance for students to reexamine the self in the mirror of the other.
* This is a shared course with Moravian Theological Seminary.
Can Muslims gain intellectual fulfillment in the world today? Muslims are immersed in intellectual and cultural contexts that contradict their deeply held religious commitments. Western views of science, reason, freedom, equality, human rights, gender roles, war and peace are some flash points that generate tension between Islamic traditions and the societies in which Muslims live. The course will examine ways in which modern Muslim thinkers grapple with these conflicts and suggest ways in which Muslim women and men may attain intellectual fulfillment while being faithful to Islamic values and ways of life.
This course will review the historical encounter between Muslims and Christians since the 7th/1st century up until the end of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th/14th century. Special attention will be given to the particular texts written by each faith community of and about the other, as well as particular social-political contexts with the Near East.
This course will review the history of Muslim communities in North America, including the arrival of Muslim slaves from Africa during the “Middle Passage,” and waves of immigration throughout the 19th/13th and 20th/14th centuries. Special attention will be given to the particular role of religious communities within American civil society and the particular challenges faced by African-American and “Immigrant” Muslim communities.
The course introduces students to the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from both the perspective of its 1st/7th-century socio-historical context in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as from the perspective of the significance of the narrative of the Prophet’s (pbuh) life for Muslims and non-Muslims living in contemporary socio-historical contexts. The course seeks to cultivate in students a critical awareness of how to relate and apply the narrative of the Prophet to the present context with intellectual and spiritual integrity. Sources include: the classical sira redaction of Ibn Hisham/Ibn Ishaq; contemporary biographies of the Prophet (pbuh) written by both Muslims and non-Muslims; documentaries and docudramas focusing on the life of the Prophet (pbuh); and a variety of sermons attempting to extract lessons for contemporary living from episodes in the life of the Prophet (pbuh)
This course is designed to acquaint students with the requisite research methods and the core genres of Islamic Studies such as biography, history, prophetic tradition (hadith), and Qur’anic exegesis. It examines a number of the great themes and personalities of the Islamic intellectual traditions with emphasis on theological, legal, mystical and philosophical thought.
The course considers the backgrounds, texts, history of interpretations, and ways in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims understand their sacred books, shape their communal worship and ethics, and relate to one another and the world in the present. We will reflect on the possibilities for using joint scriptural studies for inter-religious religious dialogue. Knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic not required.
* This is a shared course with Moravian Theological Seminary.
Exploration of a topic or topics in depth. Individual independent study upon a plan submitted by the student. Admission by consent of supervising instructor and the Dean of Academics.
* Offered irregularly
Independent investigation on a topic of interest under the supervision of a member of the graduate school faculty. Credit to be arranged.
* Offered irregularly
Special topics of current interest in the field of Islamic Studies for depth study by graduate students.
* Offered irregularly