MA Islamic Studies
Duration: 1 year Full time / 2-3 years Part time
Programme convener: Dr. Ahmad Achtar
First degree in Islamic Studies or its equivalence.
English language requirement:
Students whose first language is not English will need to show proof of English language proficiency.
Interim awards: Post-graduate diploma
Fees and Funding: Full Cost £3000 GBP Scholarship available
How to apply: Please Click to View >>
Contact hours: Two hours per week for each module (11 weeks).
Assessment: Coursework assignments for all modules except for Qur’anic Arabic which is assessed by exam.
Overview of the programme
The MA in Islamic Studies
Programme aims to provide students with knowledge and understanding of Islam; and its manifestations in the modern world. The programme is distinguished by its focus on the contemporary Islamic thought and various theological responses to the challenge of modernity. It examines the theoretical encounter with modernity and the various issues – political, legal, philosophical and theological as a result of such an encounter with Islam. The programme aims to develop a critical hermeneutical understanding of both insider and outsider approaches to Islam, and current issues and debates within these discourses such as Quranic interpretation, Shari‘a, Sufism, theology, gender and politics. The programme does not neglect classical Islamic thought as this heritage still informs the contemporary debate and discussion of Islam. The Programme is suitable for teachers, Imams, community leaders, civil servants and all those who are interested in the academic study of Islam in the modern world.
Structure of the Degree
- 2 core modules & 4 optional modules (each module 20 credits at level 7)
- Dissertation (60 credits)
- Total credits 180 (level 7)
1- Studying Islam in the context of modernity: Approaches and issues
This module examines theoretical issues and approaches associated with the study of the phenomenon of “Religion” in the context of Modernity as well as the study of “Islam” in post-orientalist era. It will first examine the impact of Modernity on the study of religion and the discussions about the category of religion. Then, it will examine a number of approaches to religion including sociological, anthropological, phenomenological ones. Then, the module will introduce philosophical hermeneutics as the basis for theoretical discussions about the Study of Religion. Finally, the module will examine current approaches to Islam after Orientalism focusing on anthropology of Islam.
2- Interpreting the Word of God: Quranic hermeneutics (usul al-tafsir)
The aim of this module is to explore issues and trends of Qur’anic hermeneutics focusing on the modern period. The module will examine and evaluate Muslims’ approaches to the Holy book by focusing on the hermeneutical methods they use to interpret the Qur’ān. Contemporary hermeneutics will provide the theoretical framework for analysis and evaluation. We will examine the historical development of the pair (tafsir – ta’wīl) and its implication for the typology of Qur’ānic exegesis (tafāsīr). Then the module will examine 19th century reformists’ approach focusing on Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Muhammad Abduh. After that the module will examine literary, Islamist, scientific, contexualist, feminist, and Salafi approaches.
(Students should choose four modules. Offered modules are subject to availability of tutors and preference of students.)
1- Seeking the face of God: Sufism
The course examines the nature and historical development of Sufism. It focuses on the fundamental teaching and practices, and their textual sources. It will further explore the main trends in Sufi theory and practice, the role of Sufism in Muslim society. Finally, the module will explore the impact of modernity on Sufism and contemporary practices.
2- Shari ‘a: past and present
The module examines the centrality of the Shari ‘a in Islam and challenges facing Muslims implementing it in the modern world. Part one of the module deals with the concept of Shari ‘a, development of legal theory, education of the ulama and legal practices. The second part examines the impact of colonialism and modernity on the implementation of the Shari ‘a in Muslim world. It will discuss issues like codification of Islamic law, human rights, gender relations and Islamic law in the contemporary period.
3- God in Islamic Thought
The module will focus on three issues namely: existence of God, attributes and anthropomorphism. It begins with the Qur’an as the prime source of Islam where firstly we will look at pre-Islamic (Jahili) concept of God as a Supreme Being and then we will examine the concept of God as presented in the Qur’an and the issues associated with this concept. After that we will look briefly at the development and schools of ‘ilm al-kalam (Islamic theology) and how they examined the concept of God and related issues. The schools which we will study are: Mu’tazila, Ash’ariyya, Maturidiyya. Then we will look at the emergence of philosophy in Islam and examine the contributions of four philosophers (al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd) to the debate about the concept of God and his attributes. Then we will examine Ibn Taymiyya’criticism of kalam and philosophy with reference to the concept of God. Finally, we will examine the sufis’ perception of God and his attributes focusing on Ibn al-Arabi.
4- Modern Islamic thought
The module aims to examine contemporary Muslims’ trends and their approaches to the challenges of modernity and selected issues associated with it such as role of shari‘a in the modern state, Jihad, gender, human rights, and religious pluralism. The module will focus on three trends namely: Salafism, Islamism and progressive Muslims.
5- Muslims in Britain
This course will examine the origins of Islam in Britain beginning in the 19th century up to the contemporary period of third generation Muslims. It will examine various issues and challenges that have arisen in the context of Britain such as identity, implementing of the Shari‘a and minorities jurisprudence, extremism, gender and Muslims participation at local and national levels, and inter-faith relations.
6- Islam and interfaith dialogue
The course explores current issues related to Muslims relations with other faiths. It will first examine theological and historical context of Muslim’s attitudes to other religions and their impact on the current relations. It will further examine contemporary Muslims initiatives and engagements with other faiths.
7- Qur’anic Arabic (two terms module)
Arabic is the language of the divine revelation; the Qur’an. Therefore studying Arabic is essential to whoever aims to acquire a deep understanding of Islam and its scripture. The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the basics of Arabic grammar and to enable them to read and understand selected parts of the Qur’an. It will cover essential features of Classical Arabic grammar in a clear and logical way. Moreover, the module will enable the students to read and translate various texts extracted from the Qur’an and prophetic tradition.
8- Political Islam
The module examines the phenomenon of political Islam and its various trends from the early 20th Century up till now. This course aims to provide intellectual and analytical tools to understand this multifaceted and complex phenomenon. The course is divided into three parts: an introductory section devoted to the issue of approaching this subject; a second section dealing with the origins and main figures; and third part focusing on the main characteristics of Islamism or political Islam in the contemporary period.
9- Islam and Gender issues
This course will examine a range of ways in which Muslim scholars have constructed gender relations and roles. It will examine the interplay between interpretation and culture in this construction. Students will study concepts of gender as they are reflected in classical Islamic texts and the current debate about women and Islam. Attention will be paid to the rise of Islamic feminism and some of its main figures
10- Early Meccan chapters: structure and linguistic forms
Meccan chapters are the first chapters revealed to the prophet Muhammad. They contain the basic and fundamentals of belief of Islam. This module will introduce students to the early Meccan chapters and their distinctive characteristics. It will enable them to appreciate the relationship between language, sound and meaning. The module will examine these topics: iltifat, oath, the sura as unit and image.