Exploring Islamic Studies and its Impact on Muslim Societies

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Exploring Islamic Studies and its Impact on Muslim Societies


Islamic Studies at University

Academics have criticised the decontextualised focus on Islamic texts and communities that characterises university studies of Islam. They point to a legacy of Orientalism in universities and a lack of engagement with Muslim communities on a local level (Geaves 2008; Siddiqui 2007).

Some have looked to Muslim ‘colleges’ as hybrid institutions capable of bringing together the’secular’ and’religious’ sciences within their curriculum (Ebbiary 2018). Some partnerships with these ‘colleges’ have shown promise.

What is Islamic Studies?

Islamic Studies offers students the intellectual training to approach Islam and Muslim societies in a historically and culturally informed way, challenging stereotypes and deepening understanding of the world’s second largest religion. The discipline unites history, culture and religious study with close readings of Arabic, Persian and Judeo-Arabic texts. Students may take courses in the fields of art and history, history of philosophy, Near East languages and cultures, international studies or theology.

Specialists in Islamic Studies focus on the detailed academic study of Arabic texts within the field of tafsir (Qur’an exegesis) along with methods adapted from several ancillary disciplines, including philology, history, law and sociology. The graduate degree prepares students to step into professions that require critical analysis of the global issues facing Muslims.

What is the Qur’an?

The Qur’an is a textual tradition inscribed in history and particular cultural contexts. Its literary idioms are distinctive and its poetic language reflects the era in which it was written. There are countless stories of listeners being enraptured by its recitation and repenting from their sins, as well as of Muslim believers feeling a strong bond with the text.

The word “Qur’an” is a contraction of the Arabic words qara’a (to read) and qira’in (to associate, to join). Many scholars believe that the Qur’an contains verses that are joined together to form a coherent whole.

Explore the global expansion of Islam as a fast-growing world religion and how it has interacted with and shaped other societies. Learn about the workings of Islamic law, Sufism, and political thought, and expand your knowledge through a wide range of Bing Overseas Studies programs in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

What is the Hadith?

Since hadiths were considered critical sources of Islamic law and creed, scholars began evaluating their reliability from the earliest years of Islam. As a result, they developed a systematic method for establishing credibility based on the reputation and qualifications of transmitters. This methodology also extended beyond hadith transmission and into other fields of scholarship such as history, literature and even sciences such as astronomy and medicine.

This was accomplished by articulating a set of criteria known as the isnad. A hadith can be categorized as sahih (sound), hasan, or daif depending on its isnad and a series of criteria such as the wording of the hadith, its consistency with established norms of the Prophet’s sayings and whether or not it contains a known liar in its isnad.

What is Sufism?

Sufism (Tasawwuf) is a mystic body of religious practice within Islam. It is a path of personal ascetic devotion, emotional religious experiences, and spiritual purification. It is also a highly diverse movement with many different Sufi orders, including the famous whirling dervishes of Turkey.

The Sufi concept of tawajif, or “wrestling with the ego,” encourages Muslims to wage war on their own nafs in order to become more loving towards God and humanity. Many Sufi Saints have produced genuine spiritual Truths that go beyond religion and promote compassion and brotherhood amongst all of mankind.

Sufis are often apolitical and have largely avoided involving themselves with Islamic politics. Nevertheless, their emphasis on personal ascetic devotion and their spirituality have made them an important part of Muslim culture worldwide.

What is Islam’s relationship with other religions?

Islamic studies is a discipline that encompasses a wide range of topics. Students investigate Islam as a religion, philosophy and worldview while also learning about Islamic history, the languages of the Muslim world (including Arabic, Persian and Turkish), Muslim cultures, and the workings of Islamic law.

The study of Islam can also include the teachings of other major world religions, as well as an exploration of how Islam influences science and secularism. It can also cover the role of women in society, as well as political thought and the major divisions within Islam.

With a focus on applied knowledge, online Islamic studies programs equip students with the tools to tackle the challenges faced by Muslims around the world. From social justice and environmental sustainability to interfaith dialogue, students can build solutions grounded in authentic Islamic principles.

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