Dialogue in Islam Course

What is it

  • A five-session course exploring the Quranic, Prophetic and historical advocacy for dialogue in Islam, with a session dedicated to contemporary issues defined as barriers to effective dialogue.
  • Accessible to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, though the course does require prior introductory knowledge of Islam. Yet, we do welcome those completely new to Islamic concepts, and have provided a guided reading list to ensure our participants can engage fully with the material of the course.
  • An interactive pedagogical approach is taken with the course, despite being content heavy each session will be followed by a question-and-answer format ensuring a lively and to-the-point format.
  • Moreover, the participants will have additional contact hour throughout the week with the tutors and will work on a final piece coursework. For instance, those interested in writing a blog piece will attend 4 sessions in parallel to the ‘Dialogue in Islam’ course in how to write, publish and advertise their piece – finishing the course by writing a blog piece on a topic of their choice studied in the course.
  • Alongside ‘effective blog publishing’, video content curating could also be selected as a means of assessment.
  • The course demonstrates the case for interfaith and intercultural dialogue in Islam through reference to scripture, Sunnah and Islamic interpretive methodology. It directly addresses elements of Islamic sources and traditional interpretation which are sometimes taken as contradicting the case for dialogue and even exploited by violent extremists.

Course objectives

  • To give a clear, accessible and Islamically sound introduction to what the Qur’an and Sunnah have to say about dialogue and intercultural/interfaith relations.
  • To demonstrate how Islamic interpretive methodology refutes divisive and extremist misinterpretations of contentious passages in the Islamic sources, giving participants confidence to reject and challenge those misinterpretations on a sound Islamic basis.
  • To offer an Islamically-anchored positive and proactive narrative.
  • To demonstrate that good intercultural and interfaith relations and dialogue are integral to the religion of Islam.
  • To foster an interactive and transferable learning pedagogy in which participants gain confidence in being able to express material learnt from the course.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, participants will be able to

  • Identify the core theological issues in relation to Muslim engagement with the ‘other’.
  • Deconstruct the arguments made for and against dialogue in Islam
  • Understand the foundational case for dialogue in Islam.
  • Understand the interpretive methodology that necessitates dialogue in Islam.
  • Use transferable skills, such as blog writing or video curating, to share what they have learnt.

Method

  • A five-session course. Each session consists of a 45minute session, including a questions and answers session.
  • In parallel to the content, students are empowered by transferable skills taught. Students use the skill taught to work on a final assessment piece.
  • The lesson objectives are explained at the beginning of each lesson with questions and comments encouraged from participants.

Target audience

  • Young British Muslims
  • Muslim community leaders and organisations in a position to provide advice and guidance to ordinary Muslims.
  • Mosques, Muslim community centres, youth clubs, schools and other outlets with a significant number of Muslim beneficiaries
  • Non-Muslims, including social workers, teachers, council members, liaison officers, academics and relevant stakeholders and policy makers who wish to understand more about what the Islamic sources say about intercultural/interfaith relations, diversity and dialogue.

Course Outline

Session 1: The Qur’anic Basis for Dialogue I

9th FEB, 2021, 18:00(GMT) UK

Exegetist methodologies; divine intention in plurality; and affirmative dialogue verses from the Qur’an.

Questions to be explored:

  • What is dialogue?
  • What does the Qur’an say about dialogue?
  • What is the difference between interfaith an intercultural dialogue?
  • Is dialogue Islamically prescribed?
  • How should we understand the Quran?
  • Which verses command dialogue with non-Muslims generally?
  • Why is their plurality of ethnicity, race, culture and religion in society?

Session 2: The Quranic Basis for Dialogue II

16th FEB 2021, 18:00(GMT) UK

Verses seemingly against dialogue; War; ‘Sword Verses’; Just War Doctrine; and Jihad.

Questions to be explored:

  • How should we understand the Qur’anic verses which seem to warn against trusting Jews and Christians?
  • How should we understand the verses in the Qur’an which command war against unbelievers, such as “Kill them wherever you encounter them” (Al-Baqara, 2:191)?
  • Is the legal maxim pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) binding in relations with non-Muslims?
  • ‘And fight them until there is no more persecution (fitna)….’ (al-Baqara, 2:193). Does this verse not see unbelief as a cause of war?
  • From a Qur’anic perspective, is relationship with non-Muslims normally based on war or peace?
  • Do the verses on war in the Qur’an abrogate the verses on peace?
  • Is their peace-making in Islam?
  • Does Islam have a Just War Doctrine?

Session 3: The Prophetic Basis for Dialogue

23rd FEB 2021, 18:00(GMT) UK

Dialogue in the Prophet’s daily life; The Madinah Charter; Perceived Conflictual Relations; and Jewish Relations.

Questions to be explored:

  • What are the main features of the Prophet’s (pbuh) relationship with the People of the Book?
  • What was dialogue like in the Prophets daily encounters?
  • Is the Medina Charter a project for co-existence, a basis for dialogue activities?
  • What place do the Jews have in the Medina Charter?
  • Did the Prophet (pbuh) make agreements with non-Muslims other than the Medina Charter?
  • Did the Prophet (pbuh) enter social, cultural and commercial relations with the People of the Book?
  • How should we understand the exile of Jews from Medina, and the wars against the Jewish tribes such as Khaybar and Banu Qurayza?
  • Is the Prophetic hadith ‘I was ordered to fight with people until they say ‘There is no god but God,’ evidence that unbelief can be a cause of war?
  • What did the Prophet (pbuh) teach about the significance of ethnic difference?

Session 4: The Historical Basis for Dialogue

2nd MAR 2021, 18:00(GMT) UK

Co-existence in the Muslim World; the Dhima System; Thriving by Integration (Science and Culture); and Controversial Debates.

Questions to be explored:

  • The significance of examples from Islamic history?
  • Are there any events or treaties from Muslim history that lend support to dialogue?
  • Did Muslims ever force others to convert to Islam in the past?
  • Under the dhimma treaty system, what were the rights of non-Muslim dhimmis?
  • Is the dhimma system a way of making Muslims superior to non-Muslims? Is it applicable today?
  • Co-existence in historical Jerusalem and the Ilkhanate period?
  • How can divergent practices in Islamic history be reconciled?
  • How was dialogue used as a steppingstone of scientific and cultural revolution?

Session 5: Contemporary Barriers to Dialogue

9th MAR 2021, 18:00(GMT) UK

Apostasy; Modern Extremism and Terrorism; and Women's Rights

Questions to be explored:

  • Is Islam inherently violent?
  • When is war permissible in Islam?
  • Why is violent extremism and terrorism forbidden in Islam?
  • When do innocents become combatants in Islam?
  • What of suicide bombers?
  • In Islamic law, apostasy from Islam (irtidad) is punishable by death. How can this be reconciled with freedom of religion and the spirit of dialogue?
  • From barriers to active engagement, how have women continued active dialogue?
  • Equipped with knowledge on controversial topics; what is a gender-sensitive approach to overcoming stereotypes and perceptions in society?

Reading Suggestions

  1. Islam and the Destiny of Man, Charles Le Gai Eaton
  2. The Qur’an: With Annotations in Modern English, Ali Unal
  3. Muhammed, Martin Lings
  4. Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, Jonathan A.C. Brown
  5. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Islam, 3rd Edition, Yahiya Emerick

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