The Islamic Literacy Series – Fall 2009

Here’s some info on a lecture series I’m participating in:

The Islamic Literacy Series is a new program at the University of Pennsylvania aimed at increasing the level of understanding among Muslims about their own faith. Each week, a 50 minute class will be held on a different topic pertaining to Islam. A faculty of 5 instructors will introduce, explore and examine the richness and diversity of the Muslim past and present. The goal is that over the course of this series, students find answers, discover new questions, challenge conventions, appreciate tradition and gain a better grasp of who they are and what their faith means.
All classes will be held in Huntsman Hall, Room TBD. The classes will be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on the dates listed below. Each class will begin promptly at 7:30 and will last for exactly 50 minutes. Faculty will be available for those who wish to stay after to ask more questions. All students are welcome to attend. If you are not a student, but would like to attend please contact Adnan Zulfiqar to request permission (


OCTOBER 14, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): Discovering the Qur’an
Instructor: Adnan Zulfiqar
Description: This class introduces students to the various techniques used in the Qur’an to help convey meaning. Particular emphasis will be placed on how to better understand the Qur’anic language and the different schools of thought that have arisen to interpret the Qur’anic message.

OCTOBER 20, 2009 (TUESDAY): A Little Bit of Muslim Herstory
Instructor: Carolyn Baugh
Description: Since the beginning of Islam, Muslim women have made strong contributions to the story of Islam. This class explores the lives of a few of these strong and outspoken women, and asks how Muslim women today can capitalize on their stories to make their own voices heard.

OCTOBER 28, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): Spread of Islam in Africa
Instructor: Margari Hill-Manley
Description: This lecture explore Islam in Africa by providing the historical background to the development of Muslim societies and communities in Africa (Northern and sub-Saharan Africa). My aim is to complicate the dichotomy of Middle East and Africa by showing the ways in which sub-Saharan Africa has always been connected to the broader Muslim world.

NOVEMBER 4, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): The Science of Tasawwuf (Sufism)
Instructor: Marc Manley
Description: What are its goals and objectives. An intorspection on what Sufism is “trying to get at” and how it can relate to the modern Muslim. A tie-in with a short bio piece and examples from Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s life.

NOVEMBER 10, 2009 (TUESDAY): The Relevance of Muslim Thought in Modern Times
Instructor: Marc Manley
Description: A reading/lecture inspired by William Chittick’s Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. An introduction into the mechanics of Muslim thought and how/why it is important to “think like a Muslim” in the modern age.

NOVEMBER 18, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): The Spirituality of Muslim Women
Instructor: Margari Hill-Manley
Description: This lecture explores Muslim women’s spiritual practices and notions of womanhood in Islam. The lecture looks at women in the Quran, the significance of Hagar’s plight in the hajj rituals, and notions of womanhood in Sufism. The aim is of the lecture is to recover the feminine voice in Islamic traditions.

DECEMBER 2, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): Introduction to the Mad’habs (Legal Schools of Thought)
Instructor: Sadik Kassim
Description: A brief introduction regarding the historical development of today’s major schools of thought, their similarities, and differences with respect to legal theory and practice.

DECEMBER 9, 2009 (WEDNESDAY): Islamic Medical Ethics
Instructor: Sadik Kassim
Description: Introduction to basic principles underpinning Islamic Medical Ethics. There will also be a brief discussion regarding Islamic perspectives on bioethical issues such as abortion, end-of-life care, euthanasia, stem cell research, fertility treatment, and organ donation.

CAROLYN BAUGH holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University in Arabic and Arab Literature, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Arabic and Islamic Studies. She is currently completing her PhD dissertation at Penn focusing on legal methodologies with regard to consent and marriage in Islamic law. She was a 2009 Dean’s Scholar.

MARGARI HILL-MANLEY is an educator and writer with an MA in history from Stanford University where she specialized in Islam in Africa and Sufi social networks. She has lectured on a variety of topics relating to Islam, African history and Black American Muslim communities at universities across the nation and has traveled extensively in the Middle East as a student and researcher. Her blog, “Margari Aziza,” has been featured in international magazines and noted as one of the outstanding female blogs for the 2008 Brass Crescent awards.

SADIK KASSIM is a research fellow in the Gene Therapy Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is currently Scientific News Editor of the international scientific journal, Human Gene Therapy. Sadik obtained his Ph.D. in 2007 in the field of Viral Immunology. He is a founding member and former Secretary of the Islamic Message Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Kassim has spoken at several Universities and Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu organizations around the country.

MARC MANLEY was born in Detroit, Michigan and embraced Islam in 1992. He subsequently learned and then taught the Arabic language for a few years. Marc has had an eclectic set of experiences including as a photographer, artist, chef and musician. He has been under the tutelage of scholars like Sherman Jackson and Shaykh Anwar Muhaimin. Marc is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and has been a regular khatib since 2008. More information on him is available at

ADNAN ZULFIQAR is currently the Interfaith Fellow and Campus Minister to the Muslim Community at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA in Religion & Anthropology from Emory University, J.D. (Law) from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently completing his Ph.D. there in Arabic & Islamic Studies with a focus on Islamic law and the Qur’an. Adnan has also spent several years studying overseas mainly in Kenya, Syria and Pakistan.

6 thoughts on “The Islamic Literacy Series – Fall 2009

  1. Pingback: Not qualified to teach? « Margari Aziza

  2. Salaams dear,

    This is wonderful!! I wish I was close enough to attend.

    Have you considered making this series available on-line for people to purchase?



  3. This is only a question. Why is it only AA people talk about white racism as far as Islam is concerned? I do not see foreign born Muslims talking about white racism. They seem to keep the white part out of the conversation. And, from my personal experience there are foreign born as opposed to AA Muslims who do not really respect AA people.

    Just a question.


  4. Come again? I don’t really understand your question. Part of it seems based on a false premise. Immigrant Muslims do talk about racism. It is within the context of colonialism or the issues of assimilation. The discourse on anti-immigrant racism has definitely picked up since 9/11. I guess you have limited conversations with immigrant Muslims and reading a bit more would inform you better.


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