The Institute of Islamic Studies
East-West University’s founding plans envisaged the establishment of an Institute of Islamic Studies in order to promote teaching, research, information dissemination, publications and field services in the area; to integrate Islamic thought in the courses of liberal arts, humanities, and behavioral and social sciences; and to provide an academically credible forum for organizing conferences, seminars and symposia. The Institute has been planned to function as an autonomous center of excellence and inter- departmental stimulator and coordinator of research interests, programs and resources in the field of Islamic studies.
The studies undertaken by the Institute would infuse and enrich the various academic programs of the University. It offers a core program of four courses which may be taken as electives, with preference given to students seeking the institutional academic scholarship. Islam is one of the major religions of the contemporary world claiming over one and a half billion adherents, or about one-fourth of the entire humankind. Muslim populations are concentrated in the Middle East, in Central, South and Southeast Asia, and in Africa. Stretching from Senegal to Indonesia, the Muslim world’s natural resources and raw materials, its markets and economic opportunities and its geo-political and strategic importance are crucial to the peace and security of the world.
North America itself has a small but growing
Muslim population, a sizable
portion of which resides in the Chicagoland area. An understanding of the contemporary world scene cannot be complete without the study of Muslim people, their modes of thinking and behavior, and the determinants of their culture and civilization especially with reference to the sources of Islamic thought and its development through history. The interdependence between North America and Western Europe on the one hand and the Muslim world on the other is increasingly becoming evident. Teaching, research, information dissemination, publications and field services in the area of Islamic studies will significantly contribute to the fulfillment of East-West University’s mission and purposes.
Islamic Studies Core Program
The three major sub-divisions of the Islamic studies core program are:
- Origin and sources of Islamic thought
- History of Islamic thought and Muslim civilization
- Contemporary Muslim thought and reality.
At the undergraduate level, the origin and sources of Islamic thought are studied in courses consisting of the central themes of the Quran, major dimensions of the Sunnah, and biography of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), all three integrated so as to explicate the system of beliefs, worships and moral code of conduct enunciated by Islam. A survey of Islamic thought and civilization is conducted in all four courses of the core program. Besides the social, political and economic history, emphasis is placed on
intellectual developments and the contributions to Islamic thought made
through such Islamic sciences as tafsir, hadith, fiqh and usul-ul fiqh, kalam, falsafah, and tasawwuf. Historical studies focus on such Muslim attitudes, aspirations, behavior patterns and institutions as have shown resilience to endure through temporal and spatial changes.
As contemporary Muslim societies and institutions come under study, the strains generated by Western colonialism and modern technology and the Islamic response to their impact form the content of these courses. Recent emphasis on Islam as an ideology and way of life is related to the actual sociocultural, political and economic conditions in countries with Muslim majority and minority populations. The main trends of thought and behavior on such issues as the appropriate form of political organization, institutions and statehood, economics and resource management, role of women in society, status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state, Muslim participation in world affairs and cooperation among Muslim countries are studied in these courses.
In the area of research, the Institute of Islamic Studies plans to focus on state- of-the-art surveys of each discipline of knowledge from the Islamic point of view; status studies of Muslim people objectively delineating where they stand at the present time – socially, educationally, politically and economically; studies of goals and targets in important spheres of individual and social life of the Muslims; and studies of policy formation, strategies of reform, governmental action and evaluation research.