About Usul Academy
Usul Academy is a higher education institution established in 2021. It is a non-profit organization registered in the US. Usul Academy aims to deliver classical madrasa education, as well as contemporary subjects within an Islamic framework. Our courses are offered online for students across the globe, with opportunities for face-to-face learning in Istanbul. Usul Academy currently offers a BA and MA in Comparative Islamic Studies in which students study traditional Islamic disciplines and social sciences from a comparative perspective. We also offer a 1-year Academic Arabic Program.
The mainstream purpose of universities today is to equip students for a professional career by providing instrumental knowledge anchored in the modern/postmodern paradigm. Usul Academy is an initiative that aims to elevate the purpose of knowledge and root students in the Islamic tradition to help them face the challenges of modern life. It aims to fill the gap left by modern universities, and enable students to grow not only intellectually, but spiritually too. The primary principle guiding our institution is Rooted Revival (al-tajdīd al-muʾaṣṣal التجديد المؤصل). This principle led us to our comparative approach to education: by juxtaposing the traditional Islamic disciplines with contemporary social sciences, we aim to contextualize the former and apply them to major issues of our age.
Program Content and Method
The Comparative Islamic Studies program combines Islamic disciplines taught through classical texts in Arabic with an applied perspective on contemporary subjects taught in English, such as: theories and research methods; comparative ethics; business and finance; psychology; biology, and more. During the academic year, students follow asynchronous lectures on weekdays and participate in synchronous sessions on Saturdays. Each academic year culminates in a face-to-face summer retreat, where friendships and sacred knowledge can flourish. By virtue of being an online institution, Usul Academy recruits the most qualified instructors around the world to teach their respective subjects.
The two areas of intellectual and spiritual development can be reflected in the combination of the prophetic pedagogies of taʿlīm and tazkiyah. The former refers to intellectual growth and the latter to spiritual enlightenment. The ultimate purpose is to elevate the student from taqlīd (imitation) to taḥqīq (verification) in faith (īmān), practice (islām) and spirituality (iḥsān). At Usul Academy, the student is not just a number. Students are carefully selected, and their personal and intellectual growth is compassionately cultivated. Usul Academy is a place to nurture interactions and friendships among students and faculty and encourage the virtue of futuwwah.
Our mission is to provide aspiring students with accessible educational opportunities to ground themselves in a holistic and inclusive multiplex perspective in their personal, academic and professional lives.
Our aim is to firmly root students in Islamic principles, values, and methods to equip them with the capacity to critically engage the contemporary challenges of humanity.
- Open Civilization (Rahma wa Ta’aruf): Open civilizations recognize other civilizations and their right to coexist. This has taken several forms in Islamic history, the latest being the Ottoman millet system in which various religious and cultural groups were granted collective rights to co-exist alongside of each other.
- Multiplexity (Maratib): Multiplexity refers to the multiple ontological, epistemological, and methodological layers, levels, and approaches to the study of reality. It postulates the multiple levels of being to which correspond epistemological modes of knowing and multiple methodological approaches for each modality.
- Humanity (Ādamiyyah): Ādamiyyah is an indigenous Islamic perspective on the universality and commonality of the human species, which necessitates that people possess intrinsic worth, dignity, value, and rights by virtue of being human first and foremost.
- Character Development (Futuwwah): Futuwwah is the chivalric path of spiritual struggle against the lower self (jihād al-nafs) towards the taḥqīq of the most noble character traits (makārim al-akhlāq).
- Holistic Pedagogy (Taʿlīm & Tazkiyah): Taʿlīm refers to academic education while tazkiyah refers to moral and spiritual education. These are the pillars of the prophetic pedagogy, that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used while educating the saḥabah (companions of the Prophet) who inherited it and employed it to educate the tābiʿun (generation of believers following the saḥabah).
- Intellectual Independence (Istiqlal Fikri): Intellectual independence entails emancipation from the hegemony of materialism, decolonization of the curriculum from Eurocenterism and freedom from the nafs (egoism and hedonism).
- Realization (Taḥqīq): Taḥqīq is the Islamic notion that true knowledge is only fully complete if it is verified through rational reflection and realized through self-experience, i.e. it must be actualized in one’s life and experiences.
- Vocation (maslak): Vocation is translated as “maslak”, that is to say the path a sālik (wayfarer) follows to reach Allah’s pleasure and Paradise. The Prophet ﷺ said: “whoever follows a path of knowledge, God will ease for him the path to Paradise” (من سلك طريقا يطلب فيه علما سهل الله له طريقا إلي الجنة).