Islamic Ethics

Sīrah (Life of the Prophet ﷺ)

Sīrah is a discipline that systematically studies the early period of Islam and the phases in the emergence and application of religious knowledge and practice by focusing on the life and excellent example of the Prophet ﷺ. Spiritual values like compassion, self-sacrifice, dedication, and generosity can only be intimately known through the guidance of the Prophet ﷺ. A close knowledge of his life is also crucial in order to have a grasp of issues like the relationship between revelation, Sunnah, and exegesis, the nature of religious rulings, and the wisdom behind these rulings. In this course, the life and character of the Prophet ﷺ will be studied to understand the birth of the religion and ethical values embodied by the Prophet ﷺ.

Imam al-Nawawī and 40 Hadith

This course, following the well accepted and well commentated selection of hadith compiled by Nawawī, will build on the Sīrah course of the first term to provide students with a guiding compass. These 40 easily memorizable hadith and their clear explanations will serve as anchors to ground students in the Prophetic paradigm.

Imam al-Nawawī and Riyaḍ al-Salihīn (The Gardens of the Pious)

The aim of this course is to provide students with a strong moral compass regarding fundamental moral issues. al-Nawawī’s Riyaḍ al-Salihīn, consists of uncontroversial and most often clear hadiths, allowing students to emerge from this class with a clearer understanding of Islamic morals rooted in practical examples from the Prophet’s life, peace and blessings be upon him.

al-Ghazzālī & Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn (I & II)

These are second year Foundations Program courses that run over two terms. They are meant to be an exploration of the spirit of Imam al-Ghazzālī’s great and influential work. Students will spend almost three months reading the primary text with expert scholars on Ghazzālī in Arabic alongside important secondary texts in Arabic and English. While the Iḥyāʾ takes a life-time to cover and fully understand, these two courses are meant to take the student on a deep dive into the core themes of this classic work. While the exact chapters of the Iḥyāʾ explored change from year to year depending on scholars, the courses are designed to always deliver both a comprehensive overview of the entire text and an in-depth exploration of key themes and chapters.

An important aspect of these courses is developing the important ways in which the Iḥyāʾ and its metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, legal, and spiritual perspectives are still relevant in the contemporary world.

Ibn ʿAṭāʾillāh al-Iskandarī & al-Ḥikam (I & II)

These third year Core Studies courses focus on the Kitāb al-Ḥikam, a masterpiece of Islamic spiritual literature by the renowned walī and sage of the 13th century CE, Aḥmad ibn ʿAṭāʾillāh al-Iskandarī (d. 1309). Students will read selected aphorisms of the primary text in Arabic with reference to commentaries in Arabic and English guided by an expert on the text. An important element of these courses is the self-observational or self-reflective component. Students are encouraged to keep a personal journal as they reflect upon their relationship to Allah and to others.

Imam Birgiwī and al-Ṭarīqah al-Muḥammadiyyah (The Mohammedan Path)

This course, which covers selections from Birgiwī Mehmed Efendi’s al-Ṭarīqah al-Muḥammadiyyah wa al-Sīrah al-Aḥmadiyyah, provides valuable insights into what a balanced approach to tazkiyah entails. The author draws from authentic sources of the Ḥanafī/Māturīdī tradition as well as famous Sufis such as Bāyazīd al-Basṭāmī, Dhunnūn al-Miṣrī, and Junayd al-Baghdādī to demonstrate the meaning of taqwā. As such, the aim of the course is to provide students with the teachings of mainstream Islamic thought regarding tazkiyah, as well as connecting this with contemporary debates regarding the issues raised by Birgiwī.