Salaam, one and all! We welcome you with heart-felt prayers for God's peace and mercy and blessings.

This blog is maintained for the readers of In the Light of a Blessed Tree, as well as for all those interested in the wider work of Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti: including the Islamic Institute for Spiritual Formation (IISF, Toronto), which he serves as the Director and Principal Teacher, the Studies in Islam program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo), where he serves as an Associate Professor, and the American Islamic College (Chicago), where he served as the Director of Islamic Studies (2013-2015).

Please stay tuned for new blog entries and announcements for new programs in Toronto and beyond!

NEW COURSE: Islam & Modernity (open to the public)

a nine-week introductory course
(Sunday, February 14 – Sunday, April 11, 2010)

with Dr. Timothy J. Gianotti
2008-2010 York-Noor Fellow in Islamic Studies
2007-2008 York-Noor Chair of Islamic Studies

Course Location & Meeting Days/Times
Noor Cultural Centre, Sundays, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Contact Noor Cultural Centre for Registration Details

What is Islam? What is modernity? What does one have to do with the other? What are the principal ways in which Muslim thinkers and activists have responded (and continue to respond) to the challenges presented by modernity and by an international order founded upon secularism and modernism? What has been the experience of different Muslim communities and intellectuals (specifically those in the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia) as they have responded to the particular challenges posed by colonization, westernization, modernization, and globalization? In pursuing these and other questions, we will highlight the perspectives of Muslim thinkers, activists, movements, and communities from the current and past three centuries, which have witnessed and continue to witness many kinds of Islamic reform, renewal and revolution in the wake of Western political and cultural domination. We will also explore Muslim voices in Europe and North America and track new trajectories of renewal and reform in the West, where Muslims live as small but increasingly significant minority communities.


♦ February 14
What exactly was the Enlightenment? The “Revolution” of the Enlightenment in Europe and its consequences; Unpacking the Worldviews of Tradition vs. Modernity: a taste of things to come… Contrasting the respective relationships of Tradition and Modernity to Time, Economics, Knowledge…

♦ February 21
The “Discontinuities” [or radical historical changes] brought about by Modernity; The Pace of Change / the Scope of Change / Modern Institutions;

♦ February 28
How does Modernity reshape society and human interaction? “Post-modernity”? Is modernity a quintessentially Western project? Is it the inescapable doom of all traditional ways of life? How?

Secularism; Judaism and Christianity in the Modern World

♦ March 7
The challenges and changes Modernity forces upon traditional religion: How the Enlightenment and Modernity have influenced Christian and Jewish Theology and Community Dynamics


♦ March 14
While the industrial revolution and the “age of the Enlightenment” were taking off in Europe and America European Colonialism and the corresponding “Qur’ānic” crisis of the 18th and 19th Centuries within the Islamic world… Religio-political calls for renewal and reform

Islam and the Nation-State: unique challenges and sticky issues

♦ March 21
Going back to go forward: How do 18th & 19th century Muslim thinkers draw upon the classical Islamic tradition to counter the onslaught of European hegemony? How can they be seen to be adapting to Modernity and the Enlightenment? How do they define the fundamental problem for the Islamic world? Who is to blame for the current state of the Islamic world?

♦ March 28
Islam & Nationalism; Islam & Socialism. Are such couplings compatible?
Islam and Secularism (?); What is the difference between the modern conception of knowledge and the traditional Islamic conception of knowledge? Can there be such a thing as “Islamic” knowledge and/or science?

♦ April 4
Islam and Social Change: should modernity change Islam or should Islam change the modern world? Can we separate the outward form from the inward spirit of the religion? Can Islamic Law adapt? Should it adapt? How can it change if it is Divinely revealed for all cultures and all times? Women and their changing rights/roles within society… must their religious roles also change?
♦ April 11
Islam and the West: A clash of civilizations? Can Western influence be stopped or even contained? Should it be stopped?

Islam and Democracy: are they compatible? Is Democracy the cure-all for the traditional, Muslim world?

Ethnicity, Nationalism, Pluralism, and Religion: what does Muslim identity mean within a globalized world? Final thoughts and questions...

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