Available courses

    This course familiarizes students with Islam’s primary sources, the Quran and Hadith, especial emphases will be given to the various disciplines related to the Qurʾān and Ḥadīth as textual sources of Islam. Students will study the Qurʾān’s preservation, contextualization, and abrogation, as well as the collection, authentication, and content of the Ḥadīth.

    By the end of the course, students will understand the historical canonization of Islam’s primary sources and appreciate the tools developed by our righteous predecessors to maintain the authenticity and integrity of our sacred texts and also will develop the practice of reflective engagement with the Qurʾān and Sunna, enlivening their relationship with Allah (SWT) and His Prophet (S).

    This course introduces students to major concepts, trends, and issues in contemporary Islamic thought. It historicizes and analyzes the Muslim encounter with modernity and the various intellectual trends this encounter has spawned, since mid-19th century until present times. Major concepts include: tawḥīd (oneness of God), tajdīd (renewal), iṣlāḥ (reform), ijtihād (intellectual effort; reasoning), khilāfah (vicegerency), shūrā (consultation), and Ummah (global Muslim community). Special attention will be given to contemporary Islamic revival and reform, rise of Islamic movements, and their impact on Islamic thought. Finally, the course will introduce and assess major intellectual, political, and religious trends in contemporary Islamic thought: traditionalism, Salafism, Islamism, and intellectual reformism.

    This course will introduce students to the field of conflict analysis and resolution, to provide them with practical training on conflict intervention methods, especially negotiations and mediation, and to engage them in an ongoing development and refinement of a conflict resolution education and training model responsive to the needs of the Muslim community in the United States, and which may be used as an exemplary model for other Muslim communities world-wide.

     Course Learning Objectives: 

    • Introduce students to the field of conflict analysis and resolution. 
    • Survey a wide variety of theories and concepts related to the field of conflict analysis and resolution.
    •  Survey a variety of different models of conflict analysis and resolution. 
    • Examine the psychological, cultural and religious aspects of conflict, especially in the Islamic context. 
    • Present techniques and skills in third-party intervention, especially mediation. 
    • Explore Islamic sources and perspectives with the purpose of establishing sound Islamic concepts on specific components of conflict analysis and resolution. 
    • Introduce a methodology for applying Islamic sources in order to inform the field of conflict analysis and resolution.

    Allah says in the Qur’an, “Travel in the land and see the consequences of those who were before you...” 30:42 

    This verse encourages a reflection upon history, an awareness of what people did, and what the effects of their actions were. History in the Quranic understanding has pedagogical content. The ruins of idolatrous peoples teach us about the tragic results of disbelief. But what can we learn from the vagaries of our own history as Muslims? 

    Before we can even answer that question, what is our history and how did we get to where we are today? We will delve into the history of Muslim societies with combined academic and devotional lenses, learning both about what happened and its relevance for us today. 

    The first part, to be conducted in Fall 2018, will cover the time right before the birth of the Prophet SAW to 1258 CE, when Baghdad fell to the Mongols. The course will present a grand narrative but localize crucial human moments. It will look critically at how Islam actually spread at various times and how Muslims dealt with different ideas, cultures, and religions. 

    It will try and convey an understanding of what our political institutions and theory were and how they changed over time. It will ask how Muslims continually made faith relevant in their lives. And it will try and figure some of what we can do now in light of past failures and successes.

    One always hears the term "Islam is a way of life" but what does that really mean? Islam encompasses a code of systems that are put in place by the Creator through the Quran and Sunnah in order to give proper instructions and guidance to live life peacefully, righteously and productively.

    In this course, students will delve into the foundations of the Islamic systems and their basic principles, historical origins, and contexts, as implemented by prophet Mohammad(peace be upon him) and his righteous followers throughout history. At the end of the course, students will have a solid understanding of how Islam systematically organizes and tackles different domains of human activities and relationships. 

    What are the immutable regulations and essential principles that govern morality and ethics in personal(family), social, economic, political, and legal (judicial) domains? In addition, this course will provide students with fundamental guidance and case studies that will help them utilize the Islamic systems in every affair of their lifestyle with full conviction and appreciation.

    Muhammad Ali, one of the most well-known American Muslims, famously said: “I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

    His is just one of the many articulations of what Islam in America looks like, and it introduces a whole set of questions: How do Muslims fit within the American narrative? Who articulates that narrative? How has that narrative changed over time, and who has helped to reimagine it?  Which articulations are privileged and celebrated, which institutions—secular, religious—authorize it, and how do these narratives relate to cultural and political ideas of freedom, agency, dissent, race, class, immigration, gender, pluralism and equality?

    These are some of the questions we will begin to unpack in this class. The course is structured to explore the diversity of the Muslim American population in the United States and to discover the depth of its history. The course will also thematically introduce some of the debates and concerns that are brought up about Muslims—such as terrorism—and those brought up by Muslims—such as gender equality. We will visit these topics through scholarship and, in many cases, will examine our questions further through literature, music, and film, such as Wajahat Ali’s play The Domestic Crusaders, rap by Lupe Fiasco and Mos Def, and Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcolm X.


    This course trains students in effective engagement with the Qu'ran through the heart, mind, tongue, and action. Students will learn techniques of memorization, which includes reflecting upon its timeless teachings and practically applying their reflections to their lived spirituality and social contexts. By the end of the course, students will have memorized at least one juzʾ and established a foundational practice of Qurʾānic memorization, reflection, and application which will enliven their relationship with the Qurʾān.


    This course provides students with a “blueprint” for Islamic learning and spiritual development by studying the three core concepts of islām, īmān, and iḥsān and their associated sciences, Fiqh, Aqida and Tazkiyya. Students will learn the integrals of worship (islām), the essentials of belief (īmān), and the way to attaining moral and spiritual excellence and beau-ty (iḥsān). By the end of the course, students will establish a roadmap for greater immersion in each of these areas in subsequent courses.

    This course provides a comprehensive study of contemporary Muslim challenges in the West and in the Muslim world including current misconceptions about Islam by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Students will explore the historical causes and development of these challenges and misconceptions, their impact on the psychological, social, economic, and political domains, and their theoretical and practical solutions. At the end of the course, students will have acquired a nuanced understanding of contemporary challenges and misconceptions about Islam such as Islamophobia, assimilation, and extremism and will possess an awareness of the root of anti-Muslim rhetoric and know how to effectively respond to both future and present misconceptions.

    This course, open to students who have already studied the foundations of Islamic belief (`aqida), involves a close study of selected, advanced topics from classical Islamic theology, with three main objectives in mind: (1) to appreciate the intellectual sophistication within traditional Islamic scholarship. (2) To see the continuing relevance, to issues we face in today's world, of some of the principles and techniques of analysis that were used by medieval Muslim theologians. (3) To gain familiarity with major theological debates and diversity of views among Muslims in the past, and to thereby better understand the historical background and theological positions of different Islamic schools and sects that we encounter today. Topics discussed include: The Existence of God, God's Attributes, Moral Accountability, the “Problem of Evil,” interreligious polemics, and the interplays and tensions between theology, philosophy and mysticism.

    The Quran was revealed as a guide for mankind. From its text, we extract much of how we as Muslims should live our lives. In this course, we will explore how Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has taught us the best methods of communication. Whether it be how to communicate with Him, communicate with our spouses and children, or those in our communities, both Muslims and people of other faiths.

    During this course, we will not only learn practical skills to improve our communication, but will also reflect on various passages of the Quran. Through this effort, we will inshaAllah gain a deeper love and appreciation for the miraculous words of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala).


    Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent by God as a mercy to all creatures (Quran, 21:107). All human beings seek their own welfare and benefit, but what sorts of benefit and gain are really of value in the long run and therefore legitimate to pursue? This course gives you the opportunity to step back to see the bigger picture of Islamic rules and regulations, the universal principles or higher objectives (maqasid) underlying them, and the complex interplay of reason, revelation, ethics and utility within this coherent system. We look at the Islamic understandings (theological and philosophical) of good/evil and benefit/harm, and discuss five overarching objectives of all Islamic regulations – the protection of religion, life, progeny mind and property. We touch on the principles of ethical dilemmas, such as choosing between lesser and greater harms, and balancing individual rights with public interest. We also look at the theory and practice of maqasid today, including their applicability to contemporary global ethical challenges, and various attempts to re-formulate the list of maqasid.

    This course is part of the Islamic Intellectual History Certificate Program at the Boston Islamic Seminary, previous courses in this program include Sciences of the Qur’an (Fall 2016), Sciences of Hadith (Spring 2017), and Madhhabs: Development & Differences (Fall 2017).


    This course will provide a foundational introduction to Islamic Bioethics, and an interdisciplinary, 360 –approach to Islamic Bioethics to allow students to engage the ethical questions from an Islamic perspective.

    This course will consist of two main parts: The first part will cover the precursors and sources of Islamic Bioethics: Islamic practice, regulations, and methodologies (fiqh, usul al-fiqh), spirituality (Tazkiyah), Philosophy (alfalsafah Al Islamiyah), and other sources that contributed to the field of Islamic Bioethics and will impact further development of the field as new ethical challenges arise from the transformational, innovations in science, biology, and technology.

    The second part will cover the methodology used for deriving bioethical recommendations based on Islamic values. Who is qualified to issue Islamic bioethical stands? How are they derived? What is the role and application of various professional functions (Clinicians, religious scholars, chaplains, researchers, and students) in the deduction? It will give students an idea about global research institutions in the field of Islamic Bioethics and their work.



    Microsoft Word - syll Islam and Nationalism 2017 BIS.docx

    The principle of nationalism claims political sovereignty or greater political power for a people on the basis of shared nationality (whether ethnic, regional, religious, etc.). Indeed, the division of the world into nation- states, and the nation-state as the fundamental political unit is widely recognized by the world community today—e.g. consider the United Nations framework for international conflict resolution. The spread of nationalism throughout the modern world has challenged Muslims to reconsider the basis of their political organization and Islam’s role in it. Most Muslim states today have adopted this framework. This means that all Muslim nation-states are modern in their basic political premises and organization. The nation-state framework lies at the root of a host of problems that continue to plague the politics of the modern Muslim world. The greatest consequence of Muslim encounter with nationalism has been a profound transformation in Muslim thinking about Islam itself. Millions of Muslims today see Islam as a global or international force whose goal is to establish an Islamic polity based on shari’ah in order to ensure a just, equitable, and peaceful society. In addition, the adoption of nationalism as a political principle by Muslims the world over implies the breakup of Muslim ummah into a myriad nations competing against other Muslim nations for prestige, resources, and power. Not surprisingly, while some Muslims espoused the national principle, others rejected it as antithetical to Islam. In confronting this challenge, Muslims responded in different ways, with some allotting Islam a central role in politics, while others denying Islam any political role whatsoever. This course explores the three main varieties of Muslim nationalism in modern South Asia (currently, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh): calaphatic nationalism seeking to establish an Islamic state on the basis of shari’ah; the modernist nationalism demanding an independent majority-Muslim quasi-secular nation-state in the form of Pakistan; and the pluralist nationalism of a Muslim minority attempting to accommodate itself in a non- Muslim-majority society. These three varieties also appear in other Muslim regions faced with the challenge of nationalism.


    This course is devoted to helpers, Imams, and leaders to share with them the art of counseling. The course will explore the tools of counseling and its use in the practical world. in this class students will be exposed to variety of psychotherapeutic schools, and they will learn how to integrate them.


    The Prophetic virtues are timeless and inform every generation everywhere. The genre of shama'il exemplifies the Prophet's superlative demonstration of each virtue as narrated by those closest to him. He is exalted among men and was anointed to perfect moral character. This course seeks to cover aspects of the supernal character of the Messenger of God and suggest practical ways to refine our own within our individual and communal contexts. May God bless and sanctify the Prophet and his family.


    This course comprises two main parts: Firstly, a historical overview, in which we see how Islamic practice and regulations (fiqh) developed from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s) until the emergence of the madhhabs, as well the methodologies and development of the madhhabs. The second part of the course looks more closely at the sources of fiqh and the methodology used for deriving rulings (i.e. an introduction to usul al-fiqh). Important questions to be covered include:
    Why are there multiple schools (madhhabs) of fiqh in Islam? How do they differ in their methodologies? To what extent are they still relevant today? Who is qualified to issue fatwas, how are they derived, and how much weight do they carry?


    The women of the Qur’an provide us with a colorful prism from which we can see femininity in its various manifestations — from the female partner of the prototypical human being (Hawwa), to the female relatives and companions of the prophet of Islam (peace be upon them), from the diplomacy of benevolent queens to the resistance of Hebrew women, from female paragons to female ingrates. Drawing on this rich trove of stories, this course will address several key questions: First, who are the women and girls found in the Qur’an? Second, what can be understood about women’s authority from the speech, acts, and descriptions of these females? Third, what does the Qur’an’s representation of female figures tell us about biological sex, sexuality, and gender?  We will study the Qur'anic verses that illuminate the lives of these women and consider how their lives hold lessons for us today. 

    This course will undertake a critical investigation of the concept and place of “race” and “ethnicity” within the Islamic tradition from the early formation of the Muslim community down to the present. We will examine how Muslims approached issues of identity as it relates to “race” and “ethnicity” as well as how these two concepts were applied to or imposed upon Muslims by others. Another major theme to be covered will be the relationship of race to power, both politically and socially. Topics will include slavery and its abolition, understandings of “race,” the Black American Muslim experience, colonialism, and Muslim approaches to resistance.

    The Holy Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as a mercy and guidance for all of humanity until the end of time. This Divine Revelation serves as way for us to navigate our everyday lives in the best of manners. More particularly, the Qur'an contains in it a structured system that educates us on how to live a life full of integrity and ethics. In this class, we will explore exactly how we can achieve this state of excellence through Qur'anic Education. The overarching topic will be Islamic/Qur'anic Education, its definition, sources, features, and objectives. We will understand how the Qur'an equips us to make educated decisions about any circumstance we may encounter. Additionally, we will explore what role reason, emotion, and revelation play in shaping our lives. Students will learn how to apply the method of Qur'anic Education to the contemporary context by analyzing how it was applied throughout the life of The Prophet (Peace be upon him) and throughout Islamic history. The instructor will engage students with lectures, readings, discussions, case studies, videos and more to enable them to get the best out of this class. 

    Narrations of the words and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), better known as Hadith, are only second to the Qur’an with respect to serving as a source of inspiration and guidance for Muslims throughout the centuries.  Unlike the Qur’an, however, they are not to be found in a single book nor are they all of equal weight and reliability.  This course will cover the history of Hadith, their transmission and interpretation, and approaches to authentication.  We will examine these topics in light of traditional Muslim scholarship as well as Western academia.  Important questions to be covered include: ‘Are the hadith synonymous with the Sunnah, the Prophetic example?’, ‘Is it mandatory for a believing Muslim to accept all Hadith?’, and ‘Is a reliable hadith considered to be just as authoritative as the Qur’an?’ 

    As Wael Hallaq has insightfully remarked, Muslims today live in a world “not of their own making.” 

    This acute observation should force us as Muslims to take a step back and observe what has gone into the making of our modern world. The main question that should be asked, then, is how did we get to where we are? This course attempts to answer that question by critically engage students with the historical and philosophical dimensions of Islam’s relationship to modernity. In the first four weeks, students will develop a foundation for thinking about Islam in modernity by working through the complicated notion of “tradition” and briefly covering the history of modernity and its impact on Muslims. 

    Based on this foundation, students will spend the rest of the semester exploring specific issues that should challenge our very assumptions about Islam and modernity and force us to reexamine how we think and live as Muslims in the modern world. The structure of each of these latter classes will broadly follow the following three sets of inquiry: 

    1. A historical and philosophical examination of some aspect of Western modernity; 
    2. Putting it into conversation with the pre-modern tradition of Islam; and 
    3. Discussing the tensions and overlaps between the two in an attempt to negotiate our situation as Muslims living in the modern West. The class will be lecture-based, but the last third of each session will be devoted to student discussion. 

    By the end of the course, students should be able to think critically about the claims of Western modernity and take a historically- and philosophically-informed approach to the difficult questions facing Muslims in the modern world.

    Requirements

    • All students are expected to have completed the required readings before each meeting. This is crucial for developing the skill of critical reading, but also for ensuring a more productive discussion at the end of each class.
    • Students will be required to submit 4 reflection essays (2 pages or more double-spaced) on the week’s readings. These can be spaced out or completed at the beginning or end of the course (although the former is recommended). The response papers should include a brief paragraph or two summarizing your understanding of the texts, but the majority of the essay should be devoted to your reflections on the arguments and any questions you might have had during the course of your readings.
    • A final essay (8-10 pages double-spaced) should be turned in no later than one week after the last meeting. This essay should offer your reflections on any topic covered in the course of the semester. 
    • Students can give a general overview of various topics or they can concentrate on a single issue. The purpose of this exercise is to show one’s comprehension of the complex issues facing Islam in modernity and to provide an opportunity to engage these issues based on their readings during the course.


    This course is a survey of Muslim life and religious movements connected to Islam in North America. The course is divided across two weekend intensive sessions. Weekend Session I, “Early Encounters and the American Imagination,” explores the early history of Islam beginning with slavery and the colonial period and ending with the early 20th century. We will investigate the many ways in which Islam, as both a religion and idea, has appeared on the American horizon and in the American imagination. Weekend Session II, “Historic Muslim Communities,” will revolve around examining the historic diversity of Muslim communities on the continent by exploring their respective beliefs, cultural and artistic expressions, and sense of identity. Special attention will be paid to the history of Muslims in the 20th century into the post-9/11 context of today.

    Grading

    • 30%  Class Discussion & Participation
    • 30%   Field Report
    • 40%   Final Examination

    Class Discussion & Participation (30%)

    Students are expected to keep up with all course materials and to participate in in-class discussions.

    • Field Report & Presentation (30%)

    Between Weekend Sessions I and II, each student is to conduct research into a person, place, or organization of significance for the history of Islam in America. Each student is encouraged to look into the histories of their localities and family. A brief report of 4-5 typed, double spaced pages that documents your findings and analysis should be submitted via email prior to Weekend Session II. Each student will also briefly present their field reports at the beginning of Weekend Session II for discussion with the rest of the class.

    • Final Examination (40%)

    During the last hour of class of Weekend Session II, each student will complete a written final examination. The exam will consist of reflective essay questions on terms, persons, and ideas that we will have covered during the course of our time together.

    Required Readings:

    • Edward E. Curtis IV, Muslim in America: A Short History, Oxford, 2009.
    • Edward E. Curtis IV, ed., Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, Columbia, 2008.
    • Malcolm X with Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. 1964
    • Wajahat Ali, Domestic Crusaders, McSweeney, 2011.
    • [PDF] Diana Eck, A New Religious America, Ch. 2 “From Many One,” pp. 26-77.
    • [PDF] Zareena Grewal, Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority, Ch. 7 “Muslim Reformers and the American Media: The Exceptional Umma and Its Emergent Moral Geography,” pp. 292-345.
    • NOTE: The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States should be brought to class for both Weekend Sessions.

    Recommended Readings After the Course:

    • Vivek Bald, Bengali Harlem and the List Histories of South Asian Americans, Harvard, 2013.
    • Sylviane A. Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, 15th Anniversary Edition, NYU, 2013.
    • Sally Howell, Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past, Oxford, 2014.
    • Denise A. Spellberg, Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.
    • [PDF] Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir, Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America. Center for American Progress, 2011.
    • [PDF] Ihsan Bagby, The American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders, Report Number 1. CAIR, 2011.

     


    The Qur'an, as God's final direct revelation to mankind, has always been central to Muslim belief and devotional life, and has continued to influence Muslim society and civilization. This course discusses the history of the Qur'anic text, its transmission and interpretation, with reference to traditional Muslim scholarship, as well as Western academic research. Topics explored include the following: How and was the Qur'an collected and transmitted? How can we prove that the Qur'an has been reliably preserved over time? What is the nature and origin of the variant readings? What is abrogation, and were some verses of the Qur'an abrogated? What are the different approaches to exegesis (Tafsir) of the Qur'an, and what are the parameters of valid interpretation? What does it mean for the Qur'an to be a 'miracle' or decisive sign from Allah?

    Textbooks

    Required:

    • Ulum al-Quran, Ahmad von Denffer
    • An Introduction to the Principles of Tafseer, Ibn Taymiyyah
    • Some additional articles Recommended:
    • An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Yasir Qadhi
    • An Approach to the Qur'anic Sciences, Mufti Taqi Usmani
    • The History of the Quranic Text, M. M. Azami
    • Variant Readings of the Quran, Ahmad `Ali al-Imam
    • مناهل العرفان في علوم القرآن, للزرقاني
    • الإتقان في علوم القرآن , للسيوطي 

    Evaluation:

    • Attendance and Participation: 25% 
    • Reflections posted to online forum: 15% 
    • Final exam: 60%


    Boston Islamic Seminary "IQRA Fellowship" is a program designed for committed Muslim undergraduate students, graduate students and young professionals to establish the necessary Islamic foundation for engaging with the modern world and engaging with contemporary issues in their professions. Through BIS Academy, students from different institutions will come together on a weekly basis, engage with the best local scholars, and build a community of driven and grounded Muslims to ultimately create real change within themselves and their communities.


    Boston Islamic Seminary's "Iqra Fellowship" is a program designed for committed Muslim undergraduate students, graduate students and young professionals to establish the necessary Islamic foundation for engaging with the modern world and engaging with contemporary issues in their professions. Through BIS Academy, students from different institutions will come together on a weekly basis, engage with the best local scholars, and build a community of driven and grounded Muslims to ultimately create real change within themselves and their communities.