Islamic Studies

Faculty: Ahmed H. al-Rahim, Jessica Andruss, Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, Shankar Nair

The Islamic Studies program in the Department of Religious Studies is dedicated to the advanced study of Islamicate intellectual history spanning fifteen-hundred years, with an emphasis on the medieval and early modern philosophical and religious traditions. Working primarily in classical Arabic, but also in Persian and Judeo-Arabic, graduate students will examine in seminars and tutorials such topics and genres as qurʾānic commentary, philosophy, theology, Islamic mysticism or Sufism, Shīʿism, Islamic jurisprudence and law, ethics, belles lettres, Muslim history and historiography, oratory, literary biography, and the interconnections among Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Manichean, Hindu, indigenous African, and Muslim communities from Islamic Spain and sub-Saharan Africa to the Near East and South Asia. The program provides students, inter alia, the opportunity to engage directly and comparatively with authors, their texts, and the contexts in which intertextuality, hermeneutics, and commentary play a central role.

Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of classical Arabic by the end of their second year and of other languages relevant to their research by the end of their third year. In addition to Arabic, the Islamic Studies program directly supports the study of Persian and Judeo-Arabic. Other potentially relevant languages such as Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Sanskrit, Urdu-Hindi, Kashmiri, or Swahili have varying degrees of support across the university. Beyond course offerings in the Department of Religious Studies, the University of Virginia also offers students relevant training through such departments and programs as Classics, Philosophy, History, Middle East & South Asian Languages, German, English, French, Spanish, Italian & Portuguese, Art History, Anthropology, C.G. Woodson Institute, and Medieval Studies. The University of Virginia Library provides a rich resource of Arabic-language books and of reference materials on Islamic civilization.