Nineteen students from seven countries, including one Fulbright scholar, were accepted into the Institute’s Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH), which began on September 30, 2002. The students selected from almost 300 applicants will embark on an intensive two-year course in the faith, culture and thought of Muslim societies, leading to a Masters degree from a British university in the student’s own area of specialisation.
“Access to higher learning at the IIS will not only add to, but strengthen my skills after which I will be able to give back to the countries in Central Asia.”
Arifa Sultani, Afghanistan and Canada, Class 0f 2005.
Eight years after its launch in September 1994, the Graduate Programme continues to attract high-calibre students with a variety of academic backgrounds from North America, Central and South Asia, Europe and the Middle East. This year’s intake includes students from Afghanistan, Canada, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan and the United States.
The Programme provides an interdisciplinary approach to the materials of Muslim culture and thought and encourages a perspective that is not confined to the theological and religious heritage of Islam, but seeks to explore the relationship of religious ideas to broader dimensions of society and culture.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to study with people from different countries having a strong thirst for the pursuit of knowledge…this is what makes it truly an experience of a lifetime.”
Jamil Kassam, Canada, Class of 2005.
The first two years of the programme are spent developing language skills and engaging in a wide range of courses bridging the fields of History, Religious Studies, the Social Sciences, Philosophy and Art. At the end of the first year, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Arab culture and language through a summer programme in an Arabic-speaking country, typically Egypt or Morocco. In the summer of the second year, students apply the lessons learned from the classroom to field projects designed with their own research interests in mind. In the past countries as varied as Tanzania, Canada, Syria and Tajikistan have been chosen.
“I have a personal interest in Islam and democracy especially with regard to freedom of thought. I feel that Islam is a victim of injustice and I’m looking forward to pursuing journalism in my third year to help change that.”
Louay Ismail, Syria, Class of 2005
Courses in the first semester, conducted by both Institute and visiting faculty, include: Literature and Linguistics, Islamic History, Historiography, Introduction to Persian and Elementary Classical Arabic.
“I want to understand culture, understand the whole picture of Islam both traditional and modern, learn the history of Muslim civilisations so that I can apply that knowledge in Tajikistan.”
Nemat Alifbekov, Tajikistan, Class of 2005
“The recent changes in Afghanistan and the beginning of, hopefully, security and stability in the country motivate and strengthen my great desire to contribute to its rebuilding in an academic way. I am convinced that the Graduate Programme at the IIS will give me the appropriate tools and knowledge to actualise my desire.”
Maryam Baiza, Germany, Class of 2005.