Islamic Disciplines Courses

Classical Islamic Studies courses comprise the core disciplines such as fiqh (law), uṣūl al-fiqh (jurisprudence), tafsīr (exegesis), kalām (theology), and uṣūl al-ḥadīth (principles of hadith). The courses on Classical Islamic Studies will follow the curriculum and methods of traditional education in Islamic Civilization, specifically the Ottoman madrasah system, which consists of reading a classical text from each discipline under the supervision of an instructor.

INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC DISCIPLINES

This course is an introduction to the scholarly tradition of the Islamic Civilization. It will discuss historical development as well as key concepts and questions of main Islamic disciplines such as fiqh, kalām, hadīth, and tafsīr. The aim of the course is to provide the students with a general intellectual map of the classical scholarly world. Within this framework, the course will also discuss subjects such as the hierarchy of the disciplines, the connections between various sub-fields, and the contemporary value of Islamic disciplines.

UṢŪL AL-ḤADĪTH (Principles of Ḥadīth)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

Uṣūl al-ḥadīth is a discipline which examines the status of the narrator and the narrative and arrives at a qualitative judgment regarding their admissibility. The ability to distinguish between authentic and weak hadith, as well as a sound understanding of hadith based on strong foundations, can only be gained by studying this discipline.

This seminar aims to establish a healthy relationship between prophetic traditions and the student. One of the significant objectives of the seminar will be achieved if the student gains the ability to critically evaluate the meaning and content of the criticisms directed at the discipline of uṣūl al-ḥadīth, which is one of the most frequently attacked Islamic disciplines in modern times. In this way, instead of adopting a position of wholesale denial or unthinking acceptance, they will develop a more scholarly and sound approach.

Main Sources

  • Al-Nawawī, Al-Taqrīb wa al-Taysīr li-Maʿrifat Sunan al-Bashīr al-Nadhīr
  • Ibn Ḥajar, Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb
  • Maḥmūd al-Ṭaḥḥān, Taysīr Muṣṭalaḥ al-Ḥadīth

FIQH (Law)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

Fiqh as a field is concerned with the practical aspects of religion. As emphasized by Ibn Haldun, who remarked that “fiqh is the carrier of civilization,” fiqh is a discipline that anybody who is interested in the Islamic civilization needs to know. At the same time, everybody who wishes to live their lives in accordance with Islam needs to learn the science of fiqh.

The objective of this seminar is to introduce students to classical fiqh texts, to improve their ability to read, understand, and interpret these texts, and to help them approach fiqh issues in a systematic way. The seminars will be supplemented by contemporary texts on occasion. The fiqh seminar aims to give the students the ability to understand fiqh problems that emerge on the individual and collective levels, to interpret them correctly, and to produce solutions using an appropriate methodology.

 Main Sources

  • Ḥasan b. ʿAmmār al-Shurunbulālī, Nūr al-Īḍāh (together with its commentaries and Ṭahṭāwī’s gloss)
  • ʿAbdullah al-Mawṣilī, Al-Ikhtiyār li-Taʿlīl al-Mukhtār
  • Abū al-Ḥasan al-Qudūrī, Mukhtaṣar (together with its commentaries al-Lubāb fī Sharḥ al-Kitāb and al-Jawharah an-Nayyirah)
  • Tāj al-Sharīʿah, al-Wiqāyah (together with the commentary Al-Nukāyah fī Sharh al-Wiqāyah by Sadr al-Sharīʿah ʿUbaydullah ibn Masʿūd)
  • Ibrāhīm al-Ḥalabī, Multaqā al-Abḥur (together with its commentaries Majmaʿ al-Abḥur and al-Durr al-Multaqā)
  • Abū al-Ḥasan al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāyah (together with its commentary al-Bināyah fī Sharḥ al-Hidāyah by al-‘Aynī)

UṢŪL AL-FIQH   (Jurisprudence)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

The discipline of uṣūl al-fiqh examines the sources of fiqh (law) and the method of deriving rulings from these sources. Even though this definition mentions the sources of law, the actual function of uṣūl al-fiqh is to equip a Muslim with a sound perspective on events, i.e. to teach how to think like a Muslim.

In this seminar, the student will be expected to comparatively analyze the opinions of Hanafi scholars with reference to a classical uṣūl al-fiqh text, to discuss issues from a perspective that is aware of the historical, social, and theological background on which uṣūl al-fiqh debates are based, and to form an authentic and correct understanding and perception of uṣūl al-fiqh.

Main Sources

  • Ibn Nujaym, Fatḥ al-Ghaffār fī Sharḥ al-Manār
  • Ṣadr al-Sharīʿah ʿUbaydullah ibn Masʿūd, Al-Tawḍīḥ Sharḥ al-Tankīḥ
  • Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī, Al-Talwīḥ ilā Kashf Ḥaqāʾiq al-Tankīḥ
  • Abū Saʿīd al-Khādimī, Majāmiʿ al-Haqāʾiq (together with the commentary by Güzelhisârî)

ʿAQĀʾID (Creed)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

ʿAqāʾid is the name of the discipline which is concerned with the fundamentals of faith in Islam. Knowledge of ʿaqāʾid is necessary to conduct one’s life as a Muslim. The issues addressed in this discipline, such as the oneness of God, the institution of prophethood, and belief in the afterlife, form the core of Islam.

In this seminar, the goal is to teach the students the fundamental subjects and debates in the discipline of kalām (rational theology) and to guide them in analyzing the effects of these debates on the Islamic intellectual tradition.

Main Sources

  • Ūshī, Amālī
  • Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, al-Fiqh al-Akbar

KALĀM (Rational Theology)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

Belief in something often comes with a desire to establish it on rational terms as well. In the classical Islamic scholarly tradition, the discipline of kalām has not only served this function, but also produced rational answers to the suspicions directed against Islam. Building on the foundations laid by the seminar on ʿaqāʾid, this seminar will address similar subjects in more detail and depth. It aims to demonstrate how these foundations of faith are to be formulated and grounded on a rational level and how this process of rationalization should be conducted. The seminar will also analyze the various approaches stemming from different schools of kalām, falsafah (philosophy), and taṣawwuf (Sufism) from a comparative perspective.

Main Sources

  • Saʿd al-Dīn al-Taftāzānī, Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid
  • Ṣābūnī, Al-Bidāyah

TAFSĪR (Exegesis)

The Goal of the Seminar and Learning Outcomes

Exegesis as a discipline aims to explain and interpret Quranic verses. This seminar seeks to read exegetical works with the aim of understanding the Quran correctly. This process will also be aided by employing the rules and nuances that the student had learned in the instrumental linguistic disciplines. In addition, the seminar will touch on different subjects regarding Quranic Sciences and the history of exegesis. After students reach a certain level of mastery, they will also be instructed on how to understand the Quran from the perspective of rhetoric, law, creed, and other such disciplines.

Main Sources

  • ʿAlī al-Ṣābūnī, Safwat al-Tafāsīr wa Tafsīr Āyāt al-Aḥkām
  • Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī & Jalāl al-Dīn al-Maḥallī, Tafsīr Jalālayn
  • Abū al-Barākāt al-Nasafī, Madārik al-Tanzīl wa Ḥaqāʾiq al-Taʾwīl
  • Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Bayḍāwī, Anwār al-Tanzīl wa Asrār al-Taʾwīl