Hayv Kahraman, Curfew

Critical Classical Arabic

Instructor: Ginan Rauf
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

How can the study of classical Arabic help us better understand canonical texts such as the Qur’an and the pre-Islamic qasida, or odes—arguably the twin foundations of Arabo-Islamic literary culture? Questions arise for the reader: What are some possible approaches to reading this vast corpus of material in ways that resonate with contemporary concerns? 

This course has two primary aims. The first concerns the formal acquisition of the Arabic language, starting with the alphabet followed by an exhaustive survey of the grammar, the study of Arabic morphology, and the acquisition of reading strategies to help students understand texts that are integrated into the curriculum. The second aim is to cultivate a community of critical readers — who draw on—interdisciplinary knowledge including but not limited to anthropology, reception. theory, literary studies, oral literature, gender studies and Islamic studies. Reading from the Qur’an, which presents itself as the literal word of God revealed to the Prophet in the Arabic language, we will ask: Who are its intended listeners/readers? What does the Qur’an’s divine inimitability say about its translatability? If the Qur’an is at once matchless and a model for literary discourse, how can we understand its ambiguous attitude towards poetry and its intimacy with the poets from whom the prophet is carefully distinguished? And, how can we read the Qur’an alongside the pre-Islamic qaisda, odes that serve as profane anti-texts to the scripture of Islam—and as guides to mores and conduct? How, through the study of the Arabic language and its foundational texts, can we understand the development and meaning of Islamic ethics, aesthetics, and social and political formation? 

Critical Classical Arabic (Online) is offered across three, 12-week trimesters: Winter (February 11th-April 28th), Summer (June 2nd-August 18th), and Fall (September 8th-November 24th). Students have the option to enroll in the program in its entirety or decide on a trimester by trimester basis. The instructor will provide materials drawn from various textbooks, supplemented by readings curated to reflect student interest or illustrate grammatical and stylistic features of classical Arabic. Payment plans and scholarships are available. Please email info@thebrooklyninstitute.com for further information. 

“Critical Classical Arabic” will also run on Mondays, in-person at BISR Central, from 6:30-8:30pm ET, starting February 12th. For more information, please visit the course page.

Course Schedule

Sunday, 10:30am-12:30pm ET
February 11 — November 24, 2024
12 weekly sessions per trimester (36 sessions), not including guest lectures