1. Who should enrol in the Canadian Certificate in Muslim Studies?
All courses are open to the public. Imams, community leaders and activists, volunteers, Islamic school teachers, social service providers, members of the medical profession, new immigrants, those who engage in interfaith dialogue, and anyone wishing to learn more about Islam and Muslims, will find beneficial the emphasis on skill development and knowledge of Canadian society.
2. Are there any pre-requisites?
There are no pre-requisites. The Canadian Certificate in Muslim Studies is a non-degree continuing education programme for adults, with no prior degrees or other academic preparation needed.
3. I am not a Muslim, can I take courses?
One need not be a Muslim to study the courses. The Canadian Certificate in Muslim Studies focuses on both knowledge and skill development with a focus on Muslim experiences in Canada. The courses are designed to be comprehensible for people with little background knowledge in Islam and Muslims. Depending on the composition of the class, instructors will adjust their lectures to include more or less background knowledge accordingly.
Credit is not given for prior degrees. Students must take the four core courses, and should find enough scope in electives to pursue educational interests that do not duplicate prior degrees. The Canadian Certificate of Muslim Studies is meant as a non-degree professional enhancement certificate with an emphasis in combining knowledge of Islam and Muslims with knowledge of Canada. Instructors respect the learning that students bring to the classroom, and depending on the composition of the class can adjust their lectures accordingly. Students seeking a degree program should consider the Muslim studies track in Emmanuel’s Master of Pastoral Studies.
5. Why Is a Christian College offering a Certificate in Muslim Studies?
Emmanuel College seeks to be a contributing participant in interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The United Church of Canada, along with members of the Emmanuel College community, see “Muslims as neighbors, as friends, and most of all as people whom God has called to faithfulness (“Preamble,” That We May Know Each Other: United Church-Muslim Relations Today (The United Church of Canada, 2004).” The opportunity for Muslims and Christians to study together topics about Islam and Muslims in Canada will help both groups learn civility and tolerance through the tools of interfaith dialogue. Studying together will create and sustain vital relationships that will enable new partnerships and cooperative activities to emerge between the two religious communities.
Click here for a longer version of Principal Mark Toulouse’s Vision Statement (August 2010).
6. Why Would a Muslim study a Certificate in Muslim Studies at a Christian College?
· A growing trend across North America is the enrollment of Muslims in Christian schools, colleges and universities. While various factors attract Muslim students to Christian educational institutions, one of the most frequently mentioned is the institutional commitment to religious faith (Pérez-Peña, 2012). Muslims find the positive spiritual environment that is fostered more inviting than at many secular institutions where religiosity is often downplayed, ignored, or worse, derided.
· Muslims in Canada seek the highest standards of educational learning. As part of the University of Toronto, Emmanuel has a demonstrated commitment to excellence in education, where best practices for research and learning are emphasized. Emmanuel also fosters an environment of civility and tolerance through its teaching.
· Muslims in Canada are divided ethnically and by sect. The Canadian Certificate of Muslim Studies has a special role to play in assisting diverse Muslim communities to build community across these divides, as well with the broader Canadian society. Emmanuel College offers a venue, an empathetic environment, intellectual partnership, and support. Muslims can deepen their understanding of Canadian society, explore Muslim identity in Canada in an academic setting, and develop their interfaith skills.
· Seeking knowledge from non-Muslim civilizations was an important part of the early Muslims’ rise to scientific excellence. A shining example of the search for, and commitment to knowledge, no matter the source, was the Bayt al–Hikmah (House of Wisdom), established by Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad (reigned 786 -809 CE), and extended by his son, Caliph al-Ma’mun (reigned 813- 833 CE). (al-Hassani: 47). The House of Wisdom was one of the greatest public libraries in Islamic history (Elayyan: 123). “With the exception of religious works, the Moslems [sic] gathered, copied, and translated everything they could, in all subjects, of all times, and in all available languages. Greek and Latin Classics, Sanskrit philosophy, Egyptian history, Hindu epics, and medieval French love-poems all were to be found somewhere in the Islamic libraries, along with biography, science and pseudoscience from all times and places (Elayyan: 129).”
Al-Hassani notes the “cosmopolitan melting pot” of scholars who met at the House of Wisdom to discuss and debate in Arabic, “Farsi, Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit,” (Al-Hassani: 47). It is in this tradition of seeking beneficial knowledge from all civilizations that the Certificate program follows.
al-Hassani, Salim T.S. (ed), 2007. 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World, 2nd ed. United Kingdom: Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation.
Elayyan, Ribhi Mustafa, 1990. “The history of the Arabic-Islamic Libraries: 7th to 14th Centuries,” International Library Review (June), 22 (2), pp. 119-135
Pérez-Peña, Richard, September 2, 2012. “Muslims From Abroad Are Thriving in Catholic Colleges”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/education/muslims-enroll-at-catholic-colleges-in-growing-numbers.html?_r=0