The courses at the College of Islamic Studies (CIS) constitute a program of study that is catered to Muslims living in the West. It draws on the wisdom and experience of Islamic institutions worldwide such as Al-Azhar University, the Islamic University of Madinah, Darul Uloom Deoband, Nadwatul Ulama, and others. The syllabus used at the Islamic College also takes into consideration the historical-critical approach to studying Islam taught at institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton Universities. It attempts to combine the best and most practical way of studying Islam while remaining within the paradigm of an Islamic worldview.
The College of Islamic Studies focuses not only on academic and educational development, but also stresses the importance of spiritual and moral education. It prepares one to become an asset to the community at large by realizing that Islam is a holistic way of life manifested in all layers of society. Knowledge is a necessity for a Muslim to be able to practice their religion. One of the most serious challenges facing Muslims today is the widespread ignorance of Islamic teachings in all parts of the world. The College of Islamic Studies is a step towards solving that problem by providing a professional study program to learn the authentic teachings of Islam. Knowledge is the right of everyone attempting to understand Islam.
Through CIS, you can take as many or as few classes as you like. You can start and stop whenever you want. There is no need to quit your job or drop out of school. On successful completion of the entire course, a student will receive a diploma certifying that they possess a sound grounding in the most essential Islamic sciences. This will enable them to navigate through modern discourse on Islam and also impart the knowledge they have gained to others. It will provide them with a foundation to filter un-Islamic ideas as well as arm them with the tools needed to spread Islam wherever they go, God willing.
The College of Islamic Studies has developed its curriculum and teaching methodology around eight fundamental pillars; these pillars were developed in response to common challenges faced by contemporary Muslims seeking to learn about their faith.
- Start with the Basics: Each class is taught with the assumption that the student has no prior knowledge about the subject. No one will hear random Arabic phrases without there being a clear definition, or have certain information skimmed through because of the all-too-common assumption, “everyone knows that already.” There is nothing more frustrating for a student attempting to learn Islam than being told that they are already supposed to know something they were never taught before.
- Avoid Sectarianism in Theology and Jurisprudence: One of the frustrating, and dangerous, trends in many Islamic educational institutions is the emphasis placed on following a particular school of thought in either theology [ʿaqīdah] or in the interpretation of Islamic law [fiqh]. Rather than forcing any particular school of thought, the College of Islamic Studies presents knowledge which agrees with the mainstream teachings of Islam while instructing students to respect the legitimate differences of opinion that exist between Muslim scholars. All teachings are based on the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah [the teachings of the Prophet] together with an understanding that minor differences of opinion will always exist among Muslim scholars.
- Utilize a Pedagogical Approach: There are two extreme trends in Islamic education. The first emphasizes rote learning, making the student memorize minute details without teaching them to think critically or analyze the subject matter. The second encourages the student to criticize the different aspects of an Islamic subject before actually undertaking a comprehensive study of that subject. At CIS, we strive to teach our students to be academic and critical after they have a firm grasp of the subject.
- Focus on Relevant Information: Prolonged discussions on matters that are not necessary for understanding and practicing Islam are avoided. If an issue is not practical but may have some theoretical benefit, it is usually summarized without spending too much time on it. CIS aims to focus on the practical, beneficial knowledge for Muslims living today, and emphasize learning the core subject matter in every course rather than focusing on minute details.
- Follow a Comprehensive Approach: A balanced Islamic education requires areas such as Theology, Islamic law, History and the Principles of Islamic Law to be studied as separate subjects in order to equip students with the necessary tools to understand and connect with the Qur’an and Sunnah on a deeper level. The absence of comprehensive study causes the Islamic sources to be understood within a vacuum and makes them seem irrelevant to the present age.
- Provide Targeted and Comprehensive Exams: Testing your knowledge solidifies it in your mind, gives you the confidence needed to convey it to others, and corrects any misunderstandings you might have had. Many students attend classes and listen to lectures but have no way of measuring how much they actually learned. Therefore, the examinations at the College of Islamic Studies are both comprehensive and focus on understanding the subject matter, rather than merely memorizing arbitrary facts and names of people.
- Academic Practices and Rigor: Professionalism is a key component of the Institute’s methodology. When it comes to appearance, style, source referencing, transliteration, etc. the most up-to-date academic practices will be utilized.
- Spiritual Emphasis: There is little benefit to a scientifically dry study of Islam which will only dull one’s senses. Instead, each subject will be taught with an aim to inspire and motivate the student, be relevant to the present day context, and most importantly, have an emphasis on spirituality. CIS does not ascribe to the idea that religious conviction and objectivity must be mutually exclusive.
The College of Islamic Studies degree program has been designed for people sixteen years of age or older who have finished a secondary [high] school education. With these prerequisites in mind, we assume the student has a fairly good education, excellent reading skills, and the ability to think critically. The College of Islamic Studies focuses on students who have already reached the age of maturity and are considered to be responsible adults but assumes that they have little Islamic education. Students who enroll at the Institute are likely studying Islam of their own free-will and usually excel through their own determination.
The College of Islamic Studies is an ideal solution for the following people:
- High school students who are about to enter University. Some may consider deferring their enrollment and taking out a semester to study Islam before facing the social and intellectual challenges that University life presents to their Islamic faith and identity.
- University students and working professionals who can dedicate time either in the evenings or weekends to acquiring a comprehensive knowledge of Islam.
- New Muslims who want to get a balanced view of Islam so that they learn the true teachings of Islam.
- Students of Islamic knowledge who would like to study abroad but wisely learn the fundamentals of Islam and benefit from local resources first before embarking on a difficult journey for knowledge overseas.
- Muslim activists and community leaders who lecture and write about Islam. These individuals have a great responsibility and can greatly benefit by acquiring a solid grounding and comprehensive knowledge of Islam.
- Full-time mothers and retired/unemployed individuals who are searching for beneficial ways to utilize their time.
- Non-Muslims who are interested in learning about Islam from Muslims, rather than from the biased media or the unnecessarily critical Western academia.
The IIOC College of Islamic Studies is currently in the application phase for accreditation with California University FCE. We will keep you posted with updates as soon as we receive them.
CIS also seeks to build relationships with local and national organizations in order to promote the study of Islamic Studies. We will keep this section updated as our partnerships grow: