Islamic Studies

Islamic Studies

This is the default concentration of the MA degree program. The coursework provides a foundation in Islamic theology, law, history, ethics and scriptural studies, and in interreligious studies. Students must complete intermediate Arabic as part of their program, by the time of graduation. Electives courses on a variety of topics can be taken to deepen understanding of Islamic thought, Muslim history, and contemporary issues pertaining to Muslim life.

The concentration equips graduates for further studies at the doctoral level, and careers involving research, scholarship, and teaching.

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Elective Courses for the Concentration (4):

Students may select four courses from any elective offerings from Bayan or CTS, and are recommended to select from the following Bayan courses:

The Life, Times and Teachings of the Prophet Muhammad

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.

Preaching and Public Presentation of Islam

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.

Islam in America

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.

Islam in Balckamerica
Global Islamic Movements and Ideologies

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.

Contemporary Islamic Thought
Islam and Liberal Citizenship
Islamic Leadership and Spirituality

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.

Islamic Rational Theology: ‘Ilm al-Kalam
Advanced ‘Ilm al-Kalam
Systematic Theology
The Sufi Tradition – Literary and Cultural Dimensions
Introduction to the Islamic Cultural Heritage

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.

Islam, Gender and Sexuality
Universal Maxims in Islamic Law and Beyond
Islam and Liberal Citizenship
Islam, Gender and Sexuality


Additional Required Courses for the Concentration (2):
Intermediate Arabic 2A

Arabic 2A (Fall, 3 units) or Summer Intensive 2A (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.

Intermediate Arabic 2B

Arabic 2B (Spring, 3 units) or Summer Intensive 2B (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.