Join us for Community Night Losing My Religion: Addressing the Modern “Crisis of Faith” on Saturday, October 19 at 6pm with Shaikh Jihad Brown & Ustadh Fouad Elgohari at The Mecca Center, 16W560 91st St., Willowbrook, Illinois. Light refreshments will be served. Please register at bit.ly/CRISISOFFAITH. This event is presented by The Mecca Center, Mecca MVMT, and Bayan Islamic Graduate School.
The 2017 Pew Research Center survey, which found that an estimated 24% of those raised Muslim in the U.S. have left the religion entirely, has been the topic of much concern throughout our community over the last few years. Additionally, 55% of those cited who left the faith no longer identify with ANY religion or spiritual practice, identifying themselves as unbelievers, atheists, or agnostic.
While the reasons cited for leaving Islam are vast, the underlying concern is essentially similar — what type of foundation are we instilling in our communities? Traditionally, the role of defending the faith and bringing it to address the concerns of contemporary issues was the role of the theologians.
Yet we have similarly seen a decline in theological education throughout the U.S., and a growing lack of concern for the study of theology amongst U.S. Muslims in an effort of advocating for unity, and the belief that “faith is not to be found in systematic theology.” The question we seek to address in this panel is: where does the role of proper theological education stand in addressing the modern “crisis of faith” that has affected so many here in the U.S., and what are institutions of higher learning (such as Bayan Islamic Graduate School and others) offering to address this concern?
ABOUT THE SPEAKER & MODERATOR:
SHAYKH JIHAD HASHIM BROWN is Resident Scholar and Assistant Professor at Bayan Islamic Graduate School. He is a classically trained Muslim scholar of the traditional Islamic disciplines, with a focus on theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and legal theory. He is an American scholar who has lived, studied, and worked throughout Europe and the Arab world. Shaykh Jihad completed his degree in Psychology at Rutgers, and attained post-graduate degrees in Philosophical Theology and Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He would further pursue a rigorous, classical curriculum with prominent Sharīʿah authorities in Syria and Morocco; at whose hands he became authorized—with advanced licenses (ijāzāt khāṣṣah)—to teach and pass on these sacred disciplines. As a critical public intellectual, Shaykh Jihad has appeared on various media outlets, such as BBC and CNN, and continues his work today as an academic consultant and writer on issues pertaining to Islam, Muslim American communities, and the interplay between normative Islamic thought and the modern world.
USTADH FOUAD ELGOHARI is an Instructor and the Director of Outreach & Student Services at Bayan, overseeing the BayanONLINE initiative for community education and research. Fouad also teaches locally in Southern California with The Majlis and is involved in several research initiatives in the area of systematic theology around the world. He is dedicated to creatively reviving the traditional Islamic rationalist disciplines. In 2004, he moved back to Egypt and studied the sacred sciences privately under the mentorship and training of numerous senior-scholars at Al-Azhar where he attained licenses (‘ijazāt) to teach Creedal theology, Malikī Legal Thought and Rulings, Arabic language, spiritual purification, Ḥadith, and the Qur’anic sciences, and went on to further specialize in logic, kalām, and legal theory (uṣūl). His current research is in post-classical (13-18th century) Islamic intellectual history, with a focus on the rational sciences (kalām, usūl, philosophy).
ABOUT BAYAN ISLAMIC GRADUATE SCHOOL:
Bayan is an accredited graduate school operating since 2011 at Claremont School of Theology and also operating at Chicago Theological Seminary as of Fall 2019. Bayan educates American Muslim scholars, religious leaders, community activists, Islamic school educators/administrators, chaplains, and more. Bayan offers graduate Masters degrees in various fields of Islamic religious sciences – a Master’s in Religion with concentrations in Islamic Studies, Islamic Education, or Islamic Leadership; and a Master’s in Divinity for Islamic Chaplaincy.
This college is producing a cadre of pioneering indigenous Muslim scholars and leaders who are positively serving the needs of the Muslim community in the religious and cultural pluralism of North American societies. In addition to providing a foundation in traditional fields of Islamic scholarship, Bayan prepares its graduates to engage the current and future generations of American Muslims.
One of the things that makes Bayan a unique endeavor is its close connection to other theological schools. These partnerships enable each student to not only study his or her own religious tradition but also to study the other great world religions from scholars of those faiths and alongside the future leaders of those communities. As it is part of the core curricula, the graduates of Bayan and of the partner schools will have received real-world training on interfaith cooperation. Thus, interfaith collaboration will become a natural part of their work in their respective communities.
The implications of Bayan for Islam in America are tremendous in that they will increase the number of those who are qualified and well-positioned to effectively present the Islamic faith to the broader American society. The success of Bayan will be an historic milestone for Muslims in America.
MORE ON BAYAN:
Bayan’s world-class faculty: www.bayanclaremont.org/academics/faculty
Bayan’s Alumni: www.bayanclaremont.org/student-life/graduates/
BayanONLINE – all recorded Bayan courses accessible on an online platform for every community member: www.bayanonline.org