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Seminary's History

About Us

Boston Islamic Seminary (BIS) began as an idea in 2008 among several active volunteers in the Boston Muslim community and has since grown into a degree-granting institution. The BIS founders recognized that the American Muslim community was at a defining moment in determining its future outlook and place in American culture.

Though we had seen growth in population and institutional development, there remained difficult and perplexing moral, intellectual, socioeconomic, and civic challenges that impede a more fruitful and God-conscious lived reality for Muslims in America. BIS was established to address the gap in qualified American Muslim religious leaders.

Founded in 2015

Established as a legal entity in 2015, the Seminary operated for the first several years under the auspices of Muslim American Society (MAS) Boston, relying on MAS Boston and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center for significant operational support during our startup phase.

Our first academic program, Continuing Education, was launched in the fall of 2016. Serving adult learners of all academic, spiritual and religious backgrounds, Continuing Education offered night and weekend options  structured as college- or graduate-level courses. Students gained access to rigorous academic curriculum not only in the Islamic sciences, but also in topics of particular importance to the American-Muslim community. We expanded our offerings and reach during our first two years of Continuing Education by holding classes online and in multiple venues.

MIRL in 2018

Our first academic program, Continuing Education, was launched in the fall of 2016. Serving adult learners of all academic, spiritual and religious backgrounds, Continuing Education offered night and weekend options  structured as college- or graduate-level courses. Students gained access to rigorous academic curriculum not only in the Islamic sciences, but also in topics of particular importance to the American-Muslim community. We expanded our offerings and reach during our first two years of Continuing Education by holding classes online and in multiple venues.

In the summer of 2018, BIS became independent of MAS and in December 2020, BIS’s full-time Master of Islamic Religious Leadership (MIRL) program was unanimously approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. BIS is the first Islamic Seminary in the United States to receive the authority to award this degree. The inaugural MIRL cohort commenced their studies in September 2021, and BIS looks forward to admitting subsequent cohorts as we grow this flagship program. 

Our Journey & Milestones

2008
The vision of Boston Islamic Seminary (BIS) was born.
2014
Muslim American Society (MAS) Boston initiated the first core team to start the Seminary.
2015
• BIS registered as a corporation with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.
• BIS’s board of directors was formed with only three board members.
• Current logo was created.
2016
• Continuing education program was launched in Fall 2016.
• BIS operated its offices out of 100 Malcom X Boulevard in Boston, MA.
• BIS successfully hired its first Dean of Academic Affairs.
• The first Academic Committee was formed to design and develop the curriculum of BIS’s full-time program.
2017
• BIS offered its first fellowship program – Iqra Fellowship Program for college and graduate students.
• BIS launched its first certificate program in Islamic Intellectual History.
• BIS offered its first hybrid online course in Spring 2017.
• The completion of the development of the first BIS full-time program curriculum.
2018
• BIS was registered as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit tax-exempt organization.
• BIS submitted an application with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), to secure degree-granting authority.
• BIS launched its first Graduate Certificate Program in Islamic Foundations, a sequence of five courses offered by BIS faculty members, as a preparation for the full-time degree program.
• Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Basyouny Nehela, was named as BIS’s first President.
2019
• BIS hired its first Dean of Administration & Chief Operating Officer (COO).
• Expanded board to include 6 members.
• BIS moved its offices to Prospect Street, in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
• BIS expanded its offerings to include a range of five unique offerings and programs.
• BIS held its first graduation ceremony to recognize and award its students, faculty members and instructors.
2020
• BIS launched its first virtual certificate in Islamic foundations.
• BIS launched its first Facebook Live show “Real Talk” between students and faculty.
• BIS moved its office and campus to Al Huda Society in Chelsea, MA
• BIS was approved by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to award the Master of Islamic Religious Leadership (MIRL), a full-time graduate program
2021
• The inaugural cohort of Master of Islamic Religious Leadership (MIRL) students commenced their studies in September.
• BIS joined the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium (BTIC) as an Associate Member.
• BIS joined the Association of Muslim Chaplains as an institutional member.