ITKI 6102 Ijtihad, Renewal and Modernity in Contemporary Islamic Thought

This course is designed to familiarize students with the debates surrounding ijtihad, renewal and modernity.  The focus is on contemporary Muslim thinkers, while recognizing the important role played by medieval and pre-modern Muslim thinkers.  In particular, the course highlights the writings of Dr. Ismail Faruqi, Dr. Taha Alwani, and Dr. AbdulHamid AbuSulayman.

In this course, students will be exposed to the various scholars who have engaged in ijtihad.  The process of original thinking versus strict adherence to previous rulings will be debated.  The questions that will be raised include: Who is involved in ijtihad, what institutions play a role in ijtihad, and what effect ijtihad has on the Muslim community.  In addition, the renewal of Islamic thought is discussed and analyzed.  At what points in contemporary Muslim history was there a vigorous attempt to galvanize and create a dynamic upliftment and critique of Islamic thought, and where and how did such efforts fail.  Finally, the approach of contemporary Muslim thinkers to modernity will be addressed.  Which Muslim groups fought modernity and rejected it (in favor of an idealized Muslim past), which Muslim groups embraced modernity blindly and sidelined Islamic civilization, and which Muslim groups have tried to find a balance in which the more acceptable aspects of modernity are embraced while the more detrimental aspects of modernity are pushed aside.

The course uses both synchronous and asynchronous methods for teaching.  Learning materials (pre-recorded video lectures, documents and links to relevant websites) are uploaded to the Learning Management System (LMS).  The course uses a flipped classroom method, which allows the enrolled students to encounter the information before the class time. The synchronous sessions are used to train students to express their ideas, share their observations and to deepen their knowledge by asking questions.  Each student will be given in-depth assignments related to the class material and class discussions.  Students will also write a short paper discussing an institution or organization that is involved in the themes of the class.