- For every Muslim who wants to tread the path of Sacred Knowledge.
- Discover the meaning and value of a ‘scholarly tradition.’
- Explore how our scholarly tradition evolved from its early Prophetic origins to its latter stages of organization and maturity.
- Understand how our religion was preserved and transmitted.
- Discuss the subjects that are part of a program to become a religious scholar, and the reference works and authoritative experts of each discipline.
- Examine how religious knowledge was classically taught and how this differs from modern university educations.
- Investigate how this change in religious teaching methods is affecting modern Muslim societies.
- Learn how to determine the reliability of the knowledge that you receive from various people and also how to judge the quality of an individual’s scholarship, thereby distinguishing the “gold” from the “glitter.”
When you study a topic, do you ever think about the process by which that knowledge has been defined, refined, and developed? Have you ever wondered how something was determined to be an established truth of a particular science?
In Western universities, most knowledge taught has developed out of a “scholarly tradition,” meaning a collective output of generations of scholars of a particular discipline. There are medical scholarly traditions, legal scholarly traditions, even scientific scholarly traditions. In fact, every mature knowledge—whether religious or secular—has a scholarly tradition.
A scholarly tradition is considered to be authoritative, and while critical evaluation is encouraged, it must be done only by someone who has mastered the scholarly tradition first. Any claim to knowledge, criticism, or correction that doesn’t first demonstrate this mastery is considered to be worthless and usually dismissed without further consideration.
Until modern times, this has been the case for Islamic religious knowledge as well, with Muslim scholarly tradition providing the mainstay around which discussion and dissent occurred. Unfortunately, widespread ignorance today has allowed anyone to say anything, with most people left without any authoritative criterion with which to judge the validity of what is being said. Many of the claims today are completely ludicrous to anyone who has studied the Muslim scholarly tradition. But because we have lost touch with it, we are no longer able to distinguish between authentic religious knowledge and motivational speeches masquerading as knowledge. This is the chief cause of the religious confusion that engulfs Muslim communities all over the world, and the consequences of this ignorance are potentially disastrous.
The Muslim Scholarly Tradition: Distinguishing the Gold from the Glitter seeks to provide clarity on the meaning and value of a “scholarly tradition” so that we can understand how to tread the path of seeking Sacred Knowledge. The course will explore how our scholarly tradition evolved from its early Prophetic origins to its latter stages of organization and maturity. It will discuss the subjects that are part of a program to become a religious scholar, and the reference works and authoritative experts of each discipline. The course will also examine how religious knowledge was classically taught and how this differs from modern university educations, thereby investigating how this change in religious teaching methods is affecting modern Muslim societies.
By the end of this course, you will appreciate the nature of authority in Islamic scholarship, including specialization within fields of knowledge. You will be able to name some of the major scholars and texts in the nine broad categories covered in the course. Finally, you will also be able to identify the subject matter, goal, and some specific examples within each major discipline, as well as identify some reliable sources of knowledge.
On a practical level, this understanding will help you determine the reliability of the knowledge that you receive from various people and also judge the quality of an individual’s scholarship, so that you are not left to the mercy of every eloquent speaker who has a religious appearance. It will also help you learn how to avoid sectarian tendencies through sticking to the larger body of Muslim scholarship. Ultimately, through equipping you with the tools necessary to distinguish the “gold” from the “glitter,” The Muslim Scholarly Tradition will ensure you spend your time seeking knowledge wisely.
LESSON 1: The Muslim Scholarly Tradition
- The Generational Refinement of Religious Knowledge
- The Development of Scholarly Disciplines
- Classical Muslim Textbooks
LESSON 2: Sources
- The Quran and its Disciplines
- The Sunna and its Disciplines
LESSON 3: Core Disciplines
- Islamic Law
LESSON 4: Core Disciplines (cont’d) & Methodology
- Islamic Spirituality
- Hadith Methodology
- Legal Methodology
LESSON 5: Prerequisites
- Logic and Reasoning
- Arabic Language
LESSON 6: Living Islam
- Direct Acquisition of Knowledge Through Personal Contact
- Exposition of Inherited Knowledge
- The Teaching License