The IIIT Summer Students’ Program (SSP) was an unforgettable experience for me. This month-long intensive program introduced me to a myriad of topics in Islamic Studies, including Contemporary Islamic Thought, Islamic Jurisprudence, Muslim History and Civilization, Qur’an and Sunnah. I was privileged to learn from a cadre of distinguished academics in the field, in addition to interacting with students from a range of disciplinary orientations, including religious studies, history and the social sciences.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the IIIT SSP was the safe space that it provided for me to explore the theoretical and topical issues that captivated my attention. I have always been interested in the intersection of religion, race and identity, particularly as it relates to Black Muslim communities in the Americas. For my SSP research paper, I looked at Black Muslims’ transition from proto-Islamic movements such as the Nation of Islam to ‘orthodox’ Sunni Islam, with a view to investigating whether Blackamerican Islam, as embedded in the Sunni tradition, provides an adequate discursive space for Black self-authentication. I was fortunate to be selected for a IIIT Research Fellowship at the end of the program to further develop my research.
My participation in IIIT SSP definitely encouraged me to continue exploring questions surrounding religion, race and identity. I will commence my PhD in Anthropology at Princeton University, where I intend to pursue research in this area. I would recommend this program to anyone eager to study Islam and Muslim communities through a multidisciplinary lens in a stimulating academic environment.