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Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an

When: Every Thursday 6-8pm EST;
Starting October 8th  – December 31st, 2020
Location:  ONLINE ONLY


The Qur’an as God’s final direct revelation to humanity, has always been central to Muslim belief and deveotional life, and has continued to influence Muslim society and civilisation. This course is the next step up from the foundation level course: Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an and Hadith. We discuss in more detail the history of the Qur’anic text, it’s transmission and interpretation, with reference to traditional Muslim scholarship as well as Western academic research. Topics include the following:

  • How was the Qur’an collected and transmitted?
  • How can we prove that the Qur’an has been reliably preserved over time?
  • What is the nature and origin of the variant readings?
  • What is abrogation and were some verses of the Qur’an abrogated?
  • What are the “occasions of revelation”?
  • What are the different approaches to exegesis (tafsir) of the Qur’an and what are the parameters of valid interpretation?
  • What does it mean for the Qur’an to be a “miracle” or decisive sign from Allah?
  • What was Qur’anic education like in the early days of Islam and how has it changed through the ages?When did the first translation of the Qur’an in Western language appear?
  • How have women historically engaged with the Qur’an?



  • To introduce students to the history of divine revelation, the historical circumstances surrounding the revelation of the Qur’an, and the different modes of revelation experienced by the Prophet Muhammad.
  • To explore the transmission of the Qur’an and its reception by the community of the Prophet.
  • To study the preservation efforts undertaken by the Prophet and his Companions.
  • To study the nature and origin of variant readings of the Qur’an.
  • To examine the issue of abrogation and its main conditions and features.
  • To understand key context for Qur’anic verses in the “occasions of revelation”.
  • To discuss the different approaches to exegesis (tafsīr) and it’s parameters.
  • To provide an historical overview of the interpretive process and methodological concerns in translating and interpreting the sacred text.
  • To illustrate the doctrine of the inimitability of the Qur’an and its miraculous nature.
  • To outline the development of Qur’anic education over the centuries.
  • To assess women’s involvement in preserving and learning the sacred text.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, God willing, the student will be able to:

  • Outline the history of Qur’anic revelation and the different modes of inspiration and revelation experienced by the Prophet.
  • Recognize the main methods by which the Qur’an was transmitted by the Prophet to his community and their reception of his message.
  • Describe early preservation efforts led by the Prophet and continued by the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.
  • Discuss the origins of variant readings of the Qur’an and their theological implications.
  • Articulate the relationship between occasions of revelation and abrogation.
  • Summarize the main approaches to exegesis and the qualifications of the exegete.
  • Demonstrate the methodological challenges of translating and interpreting the Qur’an.
  • Appreciate the miraculous nature of the Qur’anic text, its language, and structure.
  • Sketch the basic outlines of the history of Qur’anic education with an emphasis on the role of women in educational efforts.
  • Increase in love for the guidance of Allah Almighty to humanity and the noble teachings brought by the Prophet Muḥammad (PBUH).

Who Should Apply?

  • Students who have taken the Foundations Level course “Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an and Ḥadīth” and wish to further their knowledge of the Qur’an.
  • Students who have not taken the Foundations Level course but want a solid introduction to the history and beauty of the Qur’an.
  • Students who have taken a traditional course in ‘Ulūm al-Qur’ān but are looking for an approach to the subject that brings it into conversation with the realities of modern-day Muslims.


Dr. Suheil Laher

Dr. Suheil Laher serves as Academic Dean at Fawakihan Arabic language institute. He has been a tafsir and tajwid instructor at Fawakih since 2010 and has made significant contributions to the content and development of these courses. After studying electrical engineering at MIT, he earned an M.A. in Religious Studies from Boston University and recently completed his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at Harvard University. He has previously taught Arabic at Harvard, Brandeis, and Boston Universities. He has benefited from a number of teachers of traditional Islamic disciplines, in the US and abroad, and has ijazahs in Islamic theology (‘aqidah), Islamic law (fiqh), hadith and other subjects. He has taught ‘aqidah courses at the Ella Collins Institute and the Bukhari Institute. He also has extensive experience working with youth while serving as Muslim Chaplain at MIT (part-time, 1998-2014).

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari spent a decade studying Farsi, Arabic, and traditional Islam in the Middle East, graduating from a seminary in Damascus, and spending time in the land of her ancestors. She also took degrees in history and Middle Eastern Studies at Georgia State University, where she collected oral histories from Atlanta’s historic African-American Muslim community for her research. Zaynab Ansari serves as an instructor, board member, and scholar-in-residence at Tayseer Seminary, where she teaches classes on Islamic law, Qur’anic studies, Prophetic biography, American Muslim history, and women in Islam. She is a contributor to various Islamic educational portals, including Seekers Guidance and Rabata, the latter a pioneering online resource for women’s theological training.


General admission: $150 per one course. Then, $100 for each additional course.

Students: $100 per one for all students (including BIS students). Then, $50 for each additional course. 

Financial aid is also available for all courses. Please scroll down to find out more:


The Boston Islamic Seminary is committed to providing quality instruction to all, regardless of financial circumstances, through a generous financial aid program.

Please note that financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis until available funds are exhausted.  Please apply as early as possible to increase your chances of being awarded.

Boston Islamic Seminary admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.