Asha Athman, Senior at George Mason University studying Global Affairs and Arabic.
Last winter I was grateful to participate in the IIIT & Fairfax Institute's Winter Student Program. I was moved to apply because I had yet to take a variety of classes dedicated to Islamic Studies at Mason, and was interested in learning more about Islam from different scholarly perspectives.
In class I was introduced to new and familiar ideas about the Qur'an and Sunna, Islamic law, and Muslim communities abroad and in the United States. Readings and in-class discussions about Hadith science enlightened me on the academic discourse around tracing chains of transmission relaying the actions and thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). My peers and I also had the opportunity to consider different methods of reading the Qur'an and analyzing the complexity of its language and messages. Additionally, the relevance of recognizing Tawhid's place in the Islamic worldview was emphasized to us. We were able to learn about and digest different movements in Islamic thought and practice, as well as the implications these ideologies had for political developments in the modern and contemporary ages. Furthermore, our time learning about Maqasid Shari'ah with Jasser Auda enabled me to consider my studies of development and public policy under an Islamic analysis. Lastly, our session on American Islam with Nancy Khalil reminded me of the unique way Islam has developed in the U.S., its significance in Black history, and the organizing efforts of American Muslims today.
The Winter Student Program introduced me not only to important ideas in Islamic Scholarship, but also an amazing group of students from all over the country. In and outside of the classroom it was humbling and warming to be surrounded by my peers at IIIT. We were able eat and go out in Fairfax and DC together as we got to know each other during the program. I was inspired by their knowledge, past experiences, and genuine kindness. Building these bonds and relationships also contributed to a great classroom experience and atmosphere. Our teachers and advisors were equally generous, understanding, and brilliant. They were able to make our short, rigorous schedule memorable and engaging.
I recommend this program to any and all students who are curious and eager to learn more about Islamic studies. I promise the Fairfax Institute and IIIT will leave you with treasured memories, teachers, and friends.
Katherine Kiskin, Ohio State University, WSP Class of 2016
I came into the IIIT Winter Student Program not knowing what to expect and just wanting a better general, yet more in depth understanding of Islam than what my university’s curriculum could offer. One week later, I graduated the program having just experienced one of the best weeks of my life.
With the program only being a week long we were immersed into the topics such as Qur’anic Worldview, The Sunnah, Maqasid, Islam in America, etc. very fast. I felt that with the topics being so diverse I really got a well-rounded and full circle understanding of Islam that complemented my previous knowledge. These classes were not only engaging due to the content but also because of the elite professors we were so privileged to learn from. These professors came from all different backgrounds and specialties that provided a unique collection of ideas that were truly enlightening.
Not only did I gain knowledge I am extremely grateful for from this program but I made incredible, life-long friendships. The group of my peers that I learned alongside was so intelligent coming from many prestigious universities across the United States. The conversations in class were engaging and interactive and it was humbling to be among such bright individuals. Since we only had a week to spend together we made sure to be very inclusive with everyone and we became very close very fast. I can honestly say we all still keep in contact almost a year later and whenever we are in the same geographical location we make an effort to meet up.
Not only were the friendships I gained from this experience rewarding, but the relationship with the IIIT faculty we all gained were so fulfilling. This is truly an astonishing group of individuals who are so inviting and eager to share Islam and its teachings. IIIT is an institute not only active in the Muslim community but one that makes an effort to integrate itself with the community of Northern Virginia and for that matter the United States altogether.
I would recommend the IIIT Winter or Summer Student Program to anyone who even has the slightest interest in it. It was a remarkable experience with so many gratifying moments that I will remember for my entire life.