Islamic Studies

This course aims to introduce students to the collection, compilation and standardization of the Qur’an along with its main features, structure, and themes. We will examine the different interpretive processes and approaches employed by exegetes, from the classical to the modern period, to yield meaning that is relevant to confront theological, legal and social issues. The course will also address the role of the Qur’an in everyday life and thought of a Muslim.
This course is an introduction to the major figures, issues, discussions, and texts of Islamic thought as manifested in the interconnected domains of theology and philosophy. A developmental/ chronological approach will draw connections with other religious and philosophical traditions, and demonstrate confluence and change within Islamic thought over time. Students will also evaluate claims regarding “decline” in Islamic thought in connection to modernity.
This course explains the internal workings of Islamic law at its theoretical roots. It engages students with the tools of ijtihad (the mechanism of Islamic legal reasoning) with an eye to the interpretive methodologies of the various schools of Islamic law. It also explores the relationship between Islamic law and government and surveys two selected areas of substantive law: family and criminal law. It concludes with a look at modern Islamic legal and political reform.
This course outlines the expansion of Islam, the rise of the Umayyads; the Abbasid empire and successor states; the emergence of classical Islamic societies and material culture (including architecture, arts, literature); the Crusades and Mongol invasions and Muslim societies’ response; trade and exchange in the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans; the Ottoman/Safavid/Mughal empires; and the anti-colonial intellectual and political responses of new Muslim nation-states. The course provides a foundation for understanding contemporary Muslim societies and transnational Islam.
This course surveys the literature in Islamic ethical thought, identifying key themes and topics for Muslims committed to living Islam as a way of life. Students explore how diverse Muslims have chosen to navigate the challenges of global modernity. They also examine how Islamic principles can help Muslims live with integrity in contemporary American society.
This course provides an overview of models of religious leadership in the Muslim context, from both an historical perspective as well as a contemporary one. Students will study texts that describe the ideal components of Islamic leadership and spirituality and will build essential skills needed to operate as a leader in contemporary Muslim settings with a focus on youth, education, finances, board relations, gender issues, counseling, issuing of religious edicts (fatawa), communication with the community, janaza services, conversion, and interfaith.

Arabic Language

Arabic 2A (Fall, 3 units) and Arabic 2B (Spring, 3 units)
or Summer Intensive 2A/B (8 weeks, 6 units):

Students further develop their reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills, while expanding their vocabulary. They will master more complex grammar and syntax involving words derived from Arabic root patterns, using them to produce extended sentences and passages. They also master conjunctions and additional verb tenses. Performance-based formative assessments will help students achieve the equivalent of the second year of university-level Arabic.

Note: Intermediate Arabic is required for the M.A. in Islamic Studies & Leadership and the M.Div. in Islamic Chaplaincy. It is not required for the M.A. in Islamic Education, though the courses may be taken as electives.

Inter-religious / Intrafaith Studies

This course addresses some of the theoretical and practical possibilities as well as challenges of an authentic dialogue and interaction between Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This course provides a theological grounding on which members of the traditions can cultivate collaborative action, particularly in the American context.
This course addresses the emergence of sectarian divisions amongst Muslims in the classical period, and the subsequent development of doctrinal and legal materials sustaining these identities. Historical examples of coexistence and conflict will be analyzed, and more recent efforts to promote intra-faith respect and cooperation will be evaluated.
This course situates the diverse religious experiences and spiritual expressions of Islam within a global context. All students gain appreciation for the approaches to enrichment and growth cultivated by Muslims in different socio-political and cultural environments. Muslim students acquire tools for understanding other faiths’ search for meaning and enlightenment.
This course covers the origins, key historical milestones, and institutional developments of Muslims in North America. Students will develop a critical understanding of internal and external discourses about Islam in the West. The political, social and cultural features of diverse Muslim American communities will be examined in the light of common narratives regarding multiculturalism, immigration, enfranchisement, and social mobility. Finally, the place of Muslims in the American public square will be explored.

Islamic Chaplaincy

Study of the interrelationship of spirituality, care and counseling, focusing on how caregivers can respond to needs, traumas, and growth characterized as “spiritual.” Attention is given to the spiritual well-being of the caregiver, to qualities of healthy and unhealthy spirituality, methods of spiritual assessment, dealing with religious problems in care and counseling, and personal and community forms of spiritual life.

Self-care is for chaplains and other caregivers may be one of the most neglected parts of the job. If chaplains don’t care for themselves, they will be unable to perform their duties. This course provides an opportunity to explore and cultivate practices for self-assessment, self-renewal and development, and self-care.

An introduction to the theory, practices, and major issues of chaplaincy as a specialized form of spiritual care. The course is appropriate for those preparing for work in hospital, hospice, university, prison, and military chaplaincies. The arts and challenges of interreligious and intercultural care are also addressed.

In this practicum course, students learn the requirements and procedures for various Islamic religious rituals, including birth/aqiqah, conversion, prayer, special supplications, funerary prayer, preparation of the deceased and burial, marriage ceremony, etc. Students will also gain insight and develop resources for facilitating such rituals for non-Muslims who come under their care.

This course familiarizes students with the basic concepts of mental health to facilitate their collaboration with multidisciplinary teams (including both primary health and mental health professionals) serving the emotional health needs of Muslim communities. The course aims to:
(1) provide students with a general awareness of the cultural factors particular to Muslim communities they will serve (2) provide students with the basic counseling skills to work with Muslims with emotional distress and (3) teach students to recognize and refer Muslims with serious mental illness.

This course introduces students to child and adolescent psychological evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment issues. The course provides instruction in conducting diagnostic interviews and basic therapeutic techniques as well as general approaches to the treatment of children and adolescents.

Students will engage in a thorough examination of gender identity, roles, marriage, and family matters that American Muslims face today, in light of Islamic ethical concepts. Close study of “lived experiences,” with emphasis on pluralistic culture and political contexts, will frame our conversations around current challenges faced by men and women in the areas of agency, spirituality, division of labor, community and family leadership, matrimony, divorce, and child rearing.

Study of the dynamics of grief and mourning and of appropriate spiritual care and counseling with the bereaved in the context of religious communities, chaplaincy, and spiritually integrative counseling.

A study of causes, meanings, values, and dangers associated with conflict and of possibilities for resolution of conflict in intrapersonal, community, and social life. Particular attention is given to the interplay of race/ethnicity, gender, class, religion, and power in the dynamics of conflict.

Islamic Education

All Islamic Education Students:

This course provides an introduction to Islamic educational thought, concepts and practices as developed within classical Islamic civilization. Through evaluation of translated primary sources and reflection on contemporary best practices, educators integrate knowledge and skills to facilitate religious education in Muslim school contexts.

This course provides a sampling of of classical Islamic literary texts in a variety of genres, including religious writings, poetry, maqamat, frame tales, scientific writings, travel accounts, epistles, and other rich primary sources. The course also addresses cultural exchange and influences in areas of ceramics, metalworks, calligraphy, textiles, and architecture.

 Educators are increasingly expected to utilize technology effectively to facilitate learning. This course helps students develop their skills in authoring and publishing lesson plans, activities, rubrics, and resources for their elementary/secondary students, and in designing and facilitating interactive peer engagement in service to learning objectives. This is an online course.

Islamic Curriculum and Instruction specialization (Teachers):

Educators apply learning theories and practices that cultivate a lifelong love of learning as well as the intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities of their students to be individuals discovering their own paths and to be of service to the world.

In this course, educators develop ideas, lessons and projects that offer interdisciplinary learning opportunities for their students. Appropriate opportunities for involving religious teachings and outlooks within a critical academic approach are also explored.

Islamic Educational Leadership specialization (Administrators):

School administrators develop interpersonal skills and outlooks that enable them to exercise their professional mandate more effectively. Creating an atmosphere in which staff, faculty and students thrive depends significantly on the morale and tone created by the principal and administrators.

This course introduces Islamic principles for leadership and management, and elaborate on their application in the context of modern non-profit organizations. School leadership, governance, board structure and management, meeting management and fundraising will be addressed.


This course focuses on the life experiences and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, taking into account the historical context, social norms, and religious atmosphere of pre-Islamic Arabia. Students learn about the Prophet’s character and qualities, his manner of leadership, and the impact of his example on subsequent generations of Muslims. Finally, students gain insight regarding the ways in which the Prophet is commemorated as part of Islamic sacred history.

Students who have previously taken a course in Islamic Law and in the Sirah are well-suited to enroll in this advanced course that explores the technical procedures and parameters for hadith classification and usage in lawmaking.

This key leadership development course cultivates skills for effective preaching and public speaking about Islam, and enables emerging Muslim leaders to address questions involving Islamic law in a contextual manner. Topics include freedom of expression, living in pluralistic societies, gender rights and relations, governance, social justice, peace and violence, ethics and morality, and cultural flux. This course will prepare students to address a variety of audiences and contexts, including speaking to the media, to interfaith communities, to international audiences, and to civic groups.

This course is an introduction to the major figures, issues, ideologies, and texts of the 20th century and early 21st century of Islamic thought. We shall analyze the responses given to the challenges of modernity, postmodernity, colonialism, and post-colonialism. To this end, we will have a number of readings from Muslim philosophers and theologians (such as Seyyed Qutb, Mawdudi, S. Hossein Nasr, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Hasan al-Turabi, Ruhollah Khomeini, Tariq Ramadan, Said Nursi, Fazlur Rahman, Khaled Abou el-Fadl, Fethullah Gulen, Abdulkerim Sourush, Mohammad Arkoun etc.) to familiarize ourselves with the concerns, tendencies, language and nomenclature of the contemporary Islamic thought.

This course engages the mystical interpretations of Islam (Sufism) as an most important historical manifestations of the Islamic experience. Themes explored in this class include the tradition of love mysticism embodied by Rumi, institutionalization of Sufism, relationship of the Qur’an and Prophetic experience to Sufi teachings, and transformation of the ego-self in light of divine love. Emphasis is on primary Sufi texts from the formative period of 800-1300.

This course examines the contributions of Islam to the medical field, the spiritual care needs of Muslims in healthcare environments, and the issues raised by medical ethics for religious communities in general and for the Muslim community in particular. The first third of the class will focus on a framework for discussion on Islamic ethics and Bioethics, including Law, legal philosophy, and the context of the social and political setting for its applications. The second third of the course will explore the emerging field of Islamic Bioethics. The last third will focus on cultural competency issues in offering spiritual care for a Muslim patient and family.

While engaging social justice issues, community organizing has evolved as a distinct and widely adopted methodology over the last century and is credited, in part, to leading to the historic election of the country’s first African American President. This course examines community organizing within the context of the American Muslim experience, providing students with the opportunity to directly engage its strategies through an explicitly spiritual framework.

This course examines how Muslim American organizations and leaders have articulated the experience of living as a minority community in increasingly pluralistic society. Students will study opportunities and limits to social integration, political activism, and civic engagement emanating from religious identity and experiences, as well as from the dominant cultural and political framework. Students will gain understanding of the role of religion and religious communities in the public square.

This course examines the role of contemplation and spirituality in Islamic art. Through examining samples of and texts about Islamic art, the course introduces students to the hallmarks of and approaches to Islamic art. The course also examines such aspects of Islamic art as the remembrance of God, aniconism and the social values of various Muslim cultures.