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 the 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 Christian-Muslim 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, most often in Arabic, for both students and professors, help to promote this aim. The intellectual formation is offered by PISAI through a solid programme of teaching of Arab-Islamic culture, with particular emphasis on its religious heritage as lived by Muslim communities.

The study of the Arabic language is the principal means of accessing the fundamental texts of Islam (Qur’an and Sunna) and other related primary 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, Sufism, 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 Islamic 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.

Finally, 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.

1st year of licentiate

This course seeks to offer students an in-depth study of the Arabic language, Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations. Please note that special students can follow courses of Islamic Studies and of Christian-Muslim relations independently of the Licentiate programme.

The 1st Year of the Licentiate attempts to build specific theoretical and practical skills which are evidenced by the achievement of educational objectives. Expressed in terms of learning outcomes, these are the following:

- to know the structure of written literary Arabic that permits the student to read and understand, without excessive difficulty, complex literary and religious texts, both ancient and contemporary;
- to acquire the fundamental scientific concepts of the most important Islamic sciences;
- to possess a scientific method of comparative study of the Scriptures and the theological thought of Christians and of Muslims;
- to be able to critically elaborate one’s own reflection on the Islamic religion and on Christian-Muslim relations.

Arabic Language (36 ECTS)

This programme offers a deeper study of the Arabic language with a view to enable students to understand, from within, Islamic culture and religious thought. 

Islamic Studies (Second level) (18 ECTS)
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.

Christian-Muslim Relations (6 ECTS)

2nd year of licentiate (60 ECTS)

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

The 2nd Year of the Licentiate attempts to build specific theoretical and practical skills which are evidenced by the achievement of educational objectives. Expressed in terms of learning outcomes, these are the following:
- to be able to deal directly with Arabic texts representative of fundamental areas of Islamic culture and religious thought; 
- to acquire the specific vocabulary and expressions of the most important Islamic sciences;
- to be able to carry out an adequate analysis of the complexity of the classical and contemporary Islamic world;
- to be able to operate with competence in the field of Muslim-Christian dialogue;
- to compose a thesis, based on an Arabic text, that shows methodologically and scientifically the mastery acquired at the end of the course of study.

Arabic Language (9 ECTS)

Islamic Studies (Third level) (27 ECTS)
The courses in Islamic Studies in the 2nd Year, given in seminar format, 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, each with its specific vocabulary. The programme also includes a course of Arab-Christian apologetics, literature related to Islam insofar as it often responds to questions posed by Muslims to Christians in territories marked by a strong presence of Islam.
Teaching languages: Arabic, English, Italian


Licentiate Thesis (24 ECTS)
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 translation of an Arabic text, that 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 Student will then choose to translate a classical or contemporary Arabic text of 15-20 pages. This translated and annotated text, placed in its context and provided with an index and bibliography, will form the thesis, which will not normally exceed 100 pages.
The choice of the Arabic text will be made in dialogue with an advisor 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 advisor and a reader.
For the final assessment of the thesis, the written work counts for 75% and the defence for 25%.



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