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.