Intellectual richness and unparalleled variety characterize the world of Islam throughout its history. From the 9th century CE onwards, Muslims, Christians and Jews shared a common every day and cultural language, Arabic, which they used to circulate ideas, concepts and texts. The ensuing exchange was mutually enriching. For centuries, individuals belonging to the three religious communities read a very similar canon and thus equally contributed to its development. This dynamic was multi-dimensional in character: Christian and Jewish authors influenced Islamic thought, while the writings of Muslim thinkers had a major impact on non-Muslim thinkers.
The blended-learning MA program Intellectual Encounters of the Islamicate World was dedicated to the study of this extremely rich and diverse intellectual heritage. Unlike traditional academic approaches, that tend to study the intellectual history of the Muslim world according to separated and rather monolithic disciplines, this MA program systematically crossed disciplinary, religious, cultural and philological boundaries in order to gain new and innovative insights.
The overall goal of the one-year, English spoken MA program was to provide its international graduate students with a thorough understanding of the deep and manifold interconnections between the Muslim, Jewish and Christian intellectual output during Medieval times. The program was therefore characterised by a strongly research-driven and interdisciplinary approach. Students have become acquainted with a broad spectrum of aspects of the Islamicate world, such as rational theology and philosophy, law and legal methodology as well as material culture and social history with an emphasis on primary texts in the original language (Arabic). They have been trained and mentored by internationally renowned guest lecturers who are counted among the leading experts in their respective fields of research. The primarily web-based MA program also included three face-to-face sessions per academic year during which the students and teachers actually came together for several days/a couple of weeks for discussion, teaching and examination.
Freie Universität Berlin acted as degree awarding university and constituted the academic, strategic and organizational heart of this unique and innovative MA program that was realised in close collaboration with regional partners.Freie Universität Berlin offered the one-year full-time MA program of 60 ECTS to an expected number of 20 students, many of whom from the Middle East.
The project was funded by the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) by support of Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service).