Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam

Critical Madrasa Studies

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Madrasa is the Arabic word for place of learning. Historically, it connoted any institution of education, whether religious or secular, Muslim or non-Muslim. In the Ottoman Empire, the madrasa became associated solely with the teaching of religious law, which has continued up until the modern age. Since 9/11, the Western media began to portray madrasas as places of religious revivalism and radicalism, which, in some cases, has been accurate. The aim of Critical Madrasa Studies is to recapture something of the spirit of the first madrasas in Islam, which were places where open and critical discussions and debates took place on all facets of Muslim faith and practice, and some of the greatest minds and spirited souls of Islamic history were produced. Critical Madrasa Studies offers two programmes of study.  The ‘Amimiyya Seminars, named after Mufti ‘Amim al-Ihsan (d. 1974) of Bangladesh, who was an ecumenical figure in Subcontinent traditionalism. He is a symbol of tolerance, conciliation and reason. The syllabus is an amalgamation of several syllabi taught across the Muslim world, including Morocco, Egypt and the Subcontinent. Qur’anic Arabic is an intensive but highly effective two-year programme of study which provides students the tools to be able to understand the Qur’an in the English language.

In this section:

The Amīmiyya Seminars

The ‘Amīmiyya Seminars: Critical Readings of Classical Islamic Texts


The Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam is proud to host the annual ‘Amīmiyya Seminars, named after Muftī al-Diyār al-Benghāliyya ‘Amīm al-Iḥsān (d. 1394/1974), which pulls together syllabi from the maḥḍaras of West Africa and the Dars-i-Nizāmi of the Indian Subcontinent. Primers within each of the foundational Islamic sciences are taught in translation. This is a unique opportunity for students of Islamic Studies, as well as other Arabists from within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and beyond to experience a teaching method which is normally only ever accessible at elite religious institutions. The seminars run throughout the academic year in both semesters 1 and 2 and are a wonderful opportunity to develop skills in the reading of medieval/classical Arabic texts. The seminars are aimed at Level 2 and Level 3 students although students from other levels are welcome if they possess the requisite language skills. Selected readings of the texts below will be covered over two semesters. These seminars are delivered by Dr Tajul Islam and supported by other Centre members. REGISTER HERE or for more information, please contact Dr Tajul Islam (




 Arabic (Naḥw wa Ṣarf)

  • 1: Grammar: Naẓm al-Ājrūmiyya of ‘Ubayd Rabbihi al-Shinqīṭī
  • 2: Morphology: Lāmiyyat al-Af’āl of Badr al-Dīn ibn Mālik
  • 3: Rhetoric: Mi’at al-Macānī wa l-Bayān of Ibn al-Shuḥna
  • 4: Prosody: Al-Rāmiza of Ḍiyā’ al-Dīn al-Khazrajī

Law (Fiqh)

  • 1: Jurisprudence: Kifāyat al-Ghulām of ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nāblusī
  • 2: Legal Theory: Mukhtaṣar al-Manār of Ṭāha al-Kawrānī
  • 3: Jurisprudential Maxims: Mukhtaṣar al-Farā’id al-Bahīyya of Abū l-Qāsim al-Ahdal
  • 4: Fatwa:’Uqūd Rasm al-Muftī of Ibn ‘Ābidīn

Theology (cAqīda)

  • 1: Māturidite creed: Bad’ al-Amālī of al-Farghānī

Philosophy (Falsafa wa Kalām)

  • 1: Logic: Al-Sullam of al-Akhḍarī

Qur’ān (cUlūm al-Qur’ān wa Tafsīr)

  • 1: Tajwīd: Tuḥfat al-Aṭfāl of al-Jamzūrī
  • 2: Exegesis: Al-Zamzamī fī al-Tafsīr of ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Zamzamī

Ḥadīth (Muṣṭalaḥ)

  • 1: Nomenclature: Al-Bayqūniyya of al-Bayqūnī

History (Ta’rīkh)

  • 1: Prophetic biography: Al-Mī’iyya of Abū al-‘Izz al-Ḥanafī

Sufism (Taṣawwuf)

•   1: Mysticism: Al-Nuqāya of Muhammad al-Khaṭīb

Qur’anic Arabic


The vocabulary and grammar of the Qur’an has been hugely influential on classical Arabic prose and poetry and its impact on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is hard to overstate. An understanding of Qur’anic Arabic is therefore an essential step towards unlocking the mysteries, intricacies and splendor of this ancient Semitic language; it also serves as a key to the classical language and to the religious, spiritual and cultural heritage of the Arab and Muslim world.

Based on Alan Jones’ Arabic Through the Qur’an and delivered by Dr Mustapha Sheikh and Professor Rex Smith, this is a forty week programme of study aimed at Level 1 and Level 2 undergraduates, MA/PhD students and open to members of the public. The course combines focussed study of Qur’anic grammatical structures, vocabulary and Qur’an exegesis. Within weeks, students will be able to move beyond reliance on published translations of the Qur’an, towards a direct understanding of the sacred text. The only prerequisite for this course is that students must be able to read the Arabic script. While there is no course fee, students are expected to bring their own copy of Arabic Through the Qur’an. REGISTER HERE or for more information contact Dr Mustapha Sheikh (




Semester 1

-Nouns and Adjectives (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Plurals (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-The Declension of Nouns (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Prepositions (Dr Rasha Soliman)
-The First Person Singular Genitive Suffix (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Demonstratives (Professor Rex Smith)
Idafa (Professor Rex Smith)
The Perfect Tense (Professor Rex Smith)
-Pronominal suffixes (Professor Rex Smith)
-The particle ma (Professor Rex Smith)
Kull; ba’d; the accusative of time (Professor Rex Smith)

Semester 2

Kana; qala; lamma (Professor Rex Smith)
The Dual (Professor Rex Smith)
-Cardinal Numbers (Professor Rex Smith)
-Derived Forms of the Verb (Professor Rex Smith)
-The Imperfect (Professor Rex Smith)
-Interrogatives (Professor Rex Smith)
-The Subhjunctive (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
Inna (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
The Jussive (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
Laysa; idh; idha; man (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
Verbs with a hamza as one of their Radicals (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)

Semester 1

-Relative Sentences (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Assimilated Verbs (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-The Elative (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Doubled Verbs (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Exceptive Sentences with illa (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
Hollow Verbs (Professor Rex Smith)
-The Vocative (Professor Rex Smith)
-Defective Verbs (Professor Rex Smith)
-Ordinal and Other Numbers (Professor Rex Smith)
-The Imperative (Professor Rex Smith)
-The Passive (Professor Rex Smith)

Semester 2

-More about Nouns (Professor Rex Smith)
-More on the Accusative (Professor Rex Smith)
-Conditional Sentences (Professor Rex Smith)
-More about an; ‘asa and la’alla (Professor Rex Smith)
Special verbs; law-la (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
The Energetic; Oaths and Exclamations (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)
-Special Uses of ma kana; Verbs of Wonder, Praise and Blame (Dr Mustapha Sheikh)

Islam and Feminism CRG

The Islam & Feminism Critical Reading Group is being forged in order to bridge the gap between academia and the Muslim community. Many Muslim women find themselves unsatisfied by the opportunities for learning provided to them on a community level; even where such provisions are provided for Muslim women, seldom are they given the chance to discuss issues pertaining to gender and Islam in a safe space that allows for full exploration from a scholarly and informed position. The CRG will run from November 2018 – July 2019. Participants will be provided with a full reading

list outlining core required reading and recommended texts for those wishing to further explore areas of interest. Whilst the CRG is aimed at Muslim women from the local community, it is also open to staff and students at the University of Leeds.

While there are no academic prerequisites, spaces are limited so those interested are asked to register their interest and to set out briefly how participation will benefit them. This can be done by completing the enquiry form available here . All participants will be expected to have done the core reading in advance of each session, including readings for the first session.

Wherever possible, PDFs of articles will be provided, however some sessions have books as core reading. Where PDFs are not available, participants are encouraged to buy these texts or source them from libraries.

The group is organized and facilitated by Sofia Rehman, Phd Candidate at the University of Leeds.


Session 1: Getting to Grips with the Lingo! (Monday 26 Nov, 1.30-2.45pm)

Seedat, F. (2013), When Islam and Feminism Converge. Muslim World, 103: 404-420

Mir-Hosseini, Z. (2011), Beyond ‘Islam’ vs ‘Feminism’. IDS Bulletin, 42:1, pp.67-77

Hassan, R, Feminism in Islam :


Session 2: Setting the Scene: Historical Background to a Modern Debate (Monday 17 Dec, 1.30-2.45pm)

Ahmed, L (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. London; New Haven: Yale University Press


Session 3: The Qur’an Part I (Monday 14 Jan, 1.30-2.45pm)

wadud, a. (1999). Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective (2nd ed,). New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Session 4: The Qur’an Part II (Monday 11 Feb, 1.30-2.45pm)

Barlas, A. (2002). Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an. Austin, Tex: University of Texas Press.


Session 5: The Hadith (Monday 11 March, 1.30-2.45pm)

Mernissi, F. (1994). The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.


Session 6: Jurisprudence (Monday 8 April, 1.30-2.45pm)

Mir-Hosseini, Z, al-Sharmani, M, Rumminger, J. (2015). Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition. London, England: Oneworld.


Session 7: Sexual Ethics and Islam in the #metoo moment (Monday 13 May, 1.30-2.45pm)

Ali, K. (2006). Sexual Ethics in Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence. Oxford: Oneworld.


Session 8: Steering Clear of the Axis of Evil: Orientalism, Patriarchy, and Colonialism (Monday 10 June, 1.30-2.45pm)

Barlas, Asma Engaging Islamic Feminism: Provincializing feminism as a master narrative, in Islamic Feminism: Current Narratives

Sayyid, S. (. (2015). Thinking Islamism, (re-)thinking Islam. In A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism (Critique influence change ed.). London: Zed Books. pp.31-49

Abu-Lughod, L 2003 “Orientalism” and Middle East Feminist Studies. In McCann, Carole R., and Seung-Kyung Kim. 2003. In Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global perspectives. New York: Routledge. pp203-212

Kandiyoti, Deniz 1991. ‘Islam and Patriarchy: A Comparative Perspective’ in Keddie, Nikki R., and Beth Baron (eds.). Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Session 9: Where to From Here? Raise your daughters with these names: Muslim Women Activist Scholars (Monday 8 July, 1.30-2.45pm)

Webb, G. (1999). Windows of Faith: Muslim Women Scholar-Activists in North America. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press.

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