Since 2017, the Madrasa Discourses project, part of the Contending Modernities initiative at the University of Notre Dame, has been engaging young Islamic religious leaders from India and Pakistan in conversation about pluralism, modern science, and technological advances. These efforts have grown out of an innovative two-year curriculum that blended virtual instruction with in-person “intensives,” 3 weeks of seminars held over the summer and winter each year. Now the project, led by primary investigator Ebrahim Moosa, the Mirza Family Professor of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, is ready to expand its reach through the launch of a new website offering a free and self-guided version of the Madrasa Discourses curriculum.
“We believe that it is a game changer in terms of supporting broader theological literacy for Islamic scholars,” said Moosa. “We want as many people as possible to be using it.”
The site will host its official launch on Wednesday, February 24, during a virtual event at 10:00 a.m. Eastern (U.S.). During the launch event, Moosa and other Madrasa Discourses faculty will offer a guided tour of the new site, and Islamic studies experts from Indonesia, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom will also offer reflections. Attendees will also have the opportunity to pose questions about site functionality and the curriculum.
“The website is a valuable source for those interested in knowing what kind of questions Madrasa Discourses has been trying to engage in a closed-circle of dedicated madrasa graduates,” said Ammar Nasir, Madrasa Discourses Lead Faculty in Pakistan. “The editors are doing a wonderful job in making it an attractive and instructive platform at the same time.”
The new platform was developed in a process that included input from many faculty members and previous program participants. Featuring Arabic- and English-language materials, the site guides students through four semesters of study on theology, history, science, and philosophy. The Madrasa Discourses team hopes that the new online platform will serve as an innovation in global Muslim theological education.
“For 150 years, there has been conversation suggesting that Muslim theological education needs to find ways of engaging with a whole new set of knowledge and learning, especially knowledge of science, humanities and social sciences,” said Moosa. “The outcome of the curriculum with our first three groups of scholars from India and Pakistan has been extraordinary and has led to the empowerment of participants to deal with challenging questions in their own environment. We hope the website only expands that impact.”
You can visit the new curriculum website at madrasadiscourses.nd.edu.