Bachelor Degree Curriculum
Freshman Year: Fall
Intermediate Arabic 1
Islamic Law 1: Ĥanafī Fiqh
The study of the pillars of faith (shahādah) and prayer (śalāh), which includes purification (ţahārah) and ceremonial prayer, introduces Islamic theology and examines the most important and foundational ritual of Islam. Students engage relevant Islamic theological concepts and explore the meaning of jurisprudence (fiqh), the rulings related to ritual prayer, the etiquette of supplication, and the spiritual dimensions of worship. Students aspiring to join the Honors Program are also required to study and memorize a classical text (matn) in the first year to serve as a memory peg for the jurisprudence of their respective school.
Islamic Law 1: Mālikī Fiqh
The study of the pillars of faith (shahādah) and prayer (śalāh), which includes purification (ţahārah) and ceremonial prayer, introduces Islamic theology and examines the most important and foundational ritual of Islam. Students encounter the principles and rules of Muslim ceremonial practice, which are the basis for a life of devotion and servitude to God, as envisioned in the school of Imam Mālik b. Anas, as explained in The Helpful Guide (Al-Murshid al-mu¢īn). The course explores the meaning of jurisprudence (fiqh), the rulings on ritual prayer, obligatory and supererogatory prayers, the etiquette of supplication (du¢ā’), the status of the one who abandons prayer, apostasy, the status of the worship of non-Muslims, prerequisites for prayer, the manner of repairing ruptures in devotional acts, exemptions from compulsory worship, and the spiritual dimensions of worship.
Islamic Law 1: Shāfi¢ī Fiqh
Islamic law is the foundation of a life of devotion and servitude to God. Students learn the detailed rulings relating to purification (ţahārah) and prayer (śalāh) and examine some of the textual proofs for those rulings. By the end of the course, students have begun reading legal manuals in Arabic to understand the foundation of sacred knowledge and the validity of following qualified scholarship, as well as the nature and classifications of Muslim legal rulings. They explore the detailed rulings associated with purification and prayer, along with the basic Arabic legal terminology relevant to the study of these acts of worship, as well as the methodology used to analyze prophetic hadith as legal proofs.
Introduction to the Qur’an
The primary learning objective of this course is to familiarize students with the content, arrangement, and vocabulary of the Qur’an. Students engage in an introductory study of the Qur’an, completing one part (juz’) of the Qur’an, both in Arabic and in translation, in each class. Discussions focus on the major themes and arguments of the Qur’an, its overall structure, and the order of its chapters. Students also explore fine points of language, style, and interpretation. This material prepares students for Qur’anic Sciences in the sophomore year.
Trivium Seminar in Grammar
Grammar focuses the attention of students on the symbolic representation of thought in language. This seminar, therefore, reviews (1) the prescriptive rules of language, (2) taxonomies of linguistic phenomena, and (3) the mechanics of prosody and syntax. As the cornerstone upon which the liberal arts curriculum rests, this course develops the analytical skills needed for the close reading of texts. While the class places primary emphasis on clear writing and argumentation, it also includes exercises in recitation, lexicography, and criticism.
It is rare to be able to express love for someone without knowing something about that person. The Qur’an affirms that the path to earning divine love consists of following the footsteps of our beloved Prophet s. To accomplish this task, one must come to know the life, struggles, and moral character of the final Prophet s. Indeed, the Prophet Muĥammad s is the model for Muslims, as individuals and communities, and it is the highest purpose for every Muslim to follow his example. By studying selections from original historical sources and foundational texts, students examine the authenticated narratives related to the Prophet s and acquaint themselves with the normative biography that Muslims across the globe have recognized.
Freshman Year: Spring
Intermediate Arabic 2
Islamic Law 2: Ĥanafī Fiqh
Sophomores continue their examination of the pillars of Islam by focusing on fasting (śawm), zakat (zakāh), and hajj (ĥajj). Students learn how the school of Imam Abū Ĥanīfah understands the principles and rules of fasting, of purifying one’s wealth, and of the rites of the hajj as the basis for a life of devotion and servitude to God. The course covers the linguistic and technical meanings of key terms, as well as the rulings concerning fasting, zakat, and hajj—their integrals, recommended acts, offensive acts, invalidators, ways of making up missed acts, and supererogatory forms. Students gain detailed knowledge of all three pillars of the religion, while also studying some of the pertinent scriptural sources. Students begin to read legal manuals in the Arabic language.
Islamic Law 2: Mālikī Fiqh
Sophomores continue their examination of the pillars of Islam by focusing on fasting (śawm), zakat (zakāh), and hajj (ĥajj). This class further explores The Helpful Guide (Al-Murshid al-mu¢īn), used in the first semester. Students learn how the school of Imam Mālik b. Anas articulates the principles and rules of Muslim financial practices in charity and business dealings, principles and rules regarding fasting, and procedures to follow in performing hajj as the basis for a life of devotion and servitude to God. Topics include zakat on monetary wealth, zakat on agriculture and livestock, zakat regarding merchandise and merchants’ inventory, and recipients of zakat. The students and instructor discuss fasting in detail, as well as the full procedure of hajj. Time permitting, the course also briefly touches on the diseases of the heart and their cures.
Islamic Law 2: Shāfi¢ī Fiqh
This course is an introduction to the foundation of Islamic law as the basis for a life of devotion and servitude to God. Students continue to learn the detailed rulings relating to prayer (śalāh), fasting (śawm), and hajj (ĥajj), along with an examination of some of the textual proofs for those rulings. Students also develop their skills for reading legal manuals in Arabic.
Trivium Seminar in Logic
This course provides a complete set of concepts, rules, and methods by which students can recognize and construct sound arguments. Aristotle’s formal system of logic emerges through readings of core primary texts from the Organon, as well as readings from Thomas Aquinas’s commentaries on those texts. The course focuses on formal logic, which represents terms by symbols, and emphasizes the metaphysical foundations of Aristotelian logic. Students learn the core logical principles, and the acts of the intellect to which they belong, with respect to (1) the concept, which is the product of the act of simple apprehension; (2) the proposition, which arises from the intellect’s combination and division of concepts; and (3) the syllogism, which constitutes the intellect’s act of demonstrative reasoning.
Trivium Seminar in Rhetoric
Rhetoric constitutes the third discipline of the trivium. Considered the master art, rhetoric presupposes a solid grasp of grammar and logic and draws constantly upon them. For Aristotle, rhetoric is “the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” As the influential modern rhetorician Kenneth Burke (1897–1993) put it, “Rhetoric is rooted in an essential function of language itself, a function that is wholly realistic and continually born anew: the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols.” Students analyze classical treatises on rhetorical theory: Gorgias and Phædrus (Plato), On Rhetoric (Aristotle), De Oratore (Cicero), and Institutes of Oratory (Quintilian). They then practice common rhetorical exercises (progymnasmata) to enhance the clarity, vigor, and persuasiveness of their academic writing.
This course focuses on Islamic creedal theology and its dialectical tradition, with special emphasis on normative Sunni theology. Students learn about the historical schisms that led to the inherited theological diversity still extant among Muslims, the rational and anti-rational tendencies that marked the struggle for determining orthodoxy, and the teachings of surviving schools of thought on various issues in theology. Beginning with the Qur’an and then branching into classical manuals, students examine the nature of divinity, prophethood, eschatology, revelation, indiscernible realities, destiny, free will, and theodicy.