The conviction which motivates PISAI is that the Christian task to meet face to face with Muslims should be based not solely on subjective good will but also on an objective, scientifically grounded knowledge of the other, sought in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding. PISAI aims, therefore, to train students, from the intellectual and spiritual point of view, in specifically theological and cultural aspects of Islam, so as to equip them to undertake an informed dialogue with Muslims in academic, civil and religious-pastoral settings. To attain this aim, the Institute offers a specialised formation in the Arabic language, in Islamic Studies and in the historical and theological aspects of Christians-Muslims relations.

The spiritual formation is undertaken by means of a style of teaching which respects the beliefs of others and a programme of arranged encounters and informal exchanges. Weekly celebrations of the Eucharist in Arabic, for both students and teachers, help promote this aim. The intellectual formation is offered by PISAI through a solid programme of teaching of Arab-Muslim culture, with particular emphasis on its religious heritage as lived by Muslim communities. The study of the Arabic language is the principle means of accessing the fundamental texts of Islam (Qur’an and Sunna) and other related basic sources.
Classical Arabic is the major ‘highway’ for understanding and appreciating the values of Islam.

The PISAI offers a course of classical Arabic which covers a period of three years. It must be emphasized, however, that PISAI is not a language school: classical Arabic is studied because of its importance for the study of Islam. For worship and for accessing the great classical texts of the Tradition, Arabic is normally used by Muslim communities throughout the world. The courses of Islamic Studies include the different disciplines of the Islamic sciences: history, the study of the Qur’an, theology, law, philosophy, ethics, mysticism, etc.; in this way, the student acquires a global view of the different literary and cultural forms of expression and of the current problems faced by the Muslim world. Admission to these courses is open to part-time students who wish to follow courses in Islamic religion and culture without following the intensive language course.

Lastly, students of PISAI acquire a knowledge of the questions concerning Christian-Muslim relations; particular attention is given to the vicissitudes of the past, the situation as it stands at present and the theological aspects of relations between the two faiths.

introductory year

This is offered to students who have no previous knowledge of the Arabic language nor Islamic Studies or who have only an elementary knowledge. The preparatory course seeks to offer students an immersion into the essence of the Institute’s study programme: the Arabic language as an important tool for understanding, from the inside, Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Dialogue.

The yearly programme is divided into three parts:

Preliminaries (first two weeks):
•    Alphabet
•    Exercises (composition and reading of single words)

First semester
•    Grammar and exercises (verbs, morphology and syntax)
•    Reading and comprehension of literary texts
•    Dictation and conversation

Second semester
•    Grammar and exercises (verbs, morphology and syntax)
•    Linguistic laboratory
•    Dictation and conversation
•    Islamic and Christian Texts

The programme of Islamic Studies in the Introductory Year offers students an overview of Islamic history up to the abolition of the Caliphate and a first introduction to Islam’s fundamental sources, namely, the Qur’an and the Sunna.
Languages for teaching: Italian and English.

1. Methodology for Scientific Research (Celeste Intartaglia)
2. History of the Islamic World I: The Birth of Islam and the Founding of the Caliphate (Celeste Intartaglia)
3. Introduction to the Qur’an (Christopher Clohessy)
4. History of the Islamic World II: The Abbasid Caliphate, Regional Powers and Islamization (Celeste Intartaglia)
5. Introduction to the Sunna (Jason Welle)
6. History of the Islamic World III: The Supranational Empires and the Abolition of the Caliphate (Celeste Intartaglia)

History of Muslim-Christian Dialogue (Michel Saghbiny)

This course introduces students to the history of Muslim-Christian Dialogue, from the beginning of Islam to the present day. It s based on historical and modern texts and texts and documents from the Catholic Magisterium and from the Muslim world on Muslim-Christian dialogue. Language for teaching: Italian

The programme of study also comprises an introductory course on Academic Writing and Research (Thomas Michel)
Language for teaching: English

The Islamic Studies courses and those on Muslim-Christian Relations can be followed independently of the Licentiate programme.

1° year of licentiate

This course seeks to offer students an in-depth study of the Arabic language, Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Dialogue by means of the following programme:

This programme offers a deeper study of the Arabic language in view of enabling students to understand, from the inside, Muslim culture and religious thought. It is divided into three sections throughout the year:

•    Grammar
•    Translation (from and into Arabic)

•    Study of the Qur’an and its interpretative tradition
•    Texts (Literary, Islamic, Christian).

•    Press and radio
•    Composition
•    Dictation and Conversation

The programme of Islamic Studies in the 1st Year offers students a deep reflection on the important areas of the Islamic sciences. The lectures will be enriched through the use of original sources offered in translation.
Teaching language used: English

1. Islamic Philosophy (Joseph Ellul)
2. Shi‘ism: History and Doctrine (Christopher Clohessy)
3. Sufism (Jason Welle)
4. Islamic Law (Martin Wullobayi)
5. Qur’anic Commentary (Andrew Lane)
6. Islamic Ethics (Christopher Clohessy)
7. Islamic Classical Theology (Diego Sarrió Cucarella)

1. Bible and Qur’an (Valentino Cottini)
Teaching language used: Italian
2. Christians and Muslims: Theologies in Contrast (Jason Welle)
Teaching language used: English

The programme of study also comprises an introductory course on Academic writing and research (Thomas Michel).
Teaching language used: English

2° year of licentiate

The 2nd Year programme presupposes that students will have already acquired facility in reading and in understanding Arabic. The aim, therefore, is to deepen and enrich their knowledge of certain fundamental aspects of Muslim culture and religious thought. The programme comprises the study of fundamental topics and the completion of the concluding thesis.

1. Vocalization (Adnane Mokrani)
2. Arabic literature (Michel Saghbiny)
3. Press and TV (Adnane Mokrani)
4. Christian texts (Bishara Ebeid)

The courses in Islamic Studies in the 2nd Year, given in seminar format in Arabic, help the student to tackle directly texts from original sources in Arabic. The students familiarize themselves with the forms of expression in the different Islamic sciences and with their specific vocabulary.

1. Islamic Philosophy (Paul Heck)
2. Sunna (Adnane Mokrani)
3. Islamic Historiography (Bartolomeo Pirone)
4. Contemporary Arab-Muslim Thought (Wasim Salman)
5. Modern Qur’anic Commentary (Francesco Zannini)
6. Islamic Ethics (Andrew Lane)
7. Islamic Law (Gianluca Parolin)
8. Sufism (Giuseppe Scattolin)
9. Islamic Theology (Michel Younès)
10. Arab-Christian Apologetics (Pierre Masri)

Contemporary Islam
The programme of study also comprises a panoramic course on Contemporary Islam during the second semester (Thomas Michel)
Teaching language used: English

The course on Contemporary Islam can be followed independently of the Licentiate programme.

Licentiate Thesis
The thesis concludes the two-year course of study for obtaining the Licentiate. It consists of a scientific monograph on an original topic of Islamic Studies. Such a scientific monograph should make a real contribution, however modest, to furthering knowledge in the Islamic science studied. This, therefore, excludes the repeating of subjects already studied by others or the simple reviewing of studies already conducted on the chosen topic. This ‘original topic’ indicates a new subject or the updating of a subject already studied by others. The requirements of PISAI state that the thesis must include the annotated and commented translation of an Arabic text which has not yet been translated. In this way, students will demonstrate their ability to understand and translate an Arabic text and to produce a piece of work conducted scientifically with regard to content, methodology and style.

The choice of the Arabic text will be made in harmony with a moderator who will closely follow the development of the writing of the thesis. The defence will take place in the presence of and with the adjudication of the moderator and of a second reader.

The programme of study also comprises a course on the Scientific methodology of research (Celeste Intartaglia)
Teaching language used: Italian



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