Vocabulary of  Islam

with Dr. Sharif El-Tobgui

Mondays, September 9 – December 9, 2019

Location: 31 Quint Ave, Allston, MA 02134



This course provides students with a firm grasp of the principal Arabic terms and concepts, derived from the Qur’an and Sunna, that are necessary for building a sound and profound understanding of the Islamic worldview and for engaging effectively with Muslim and interfaith communities. Students will study the nomenclature and linguistic subtleties that comprise the Islamic lingua franca. By the end of the program, students will have a clear understanding of the fundamental components of reality—physical, metaphysical, theological, moral, and spiritual—as revealed in the Qur’an and Sunna and will be able to effectively convey the meanings of key Islamic terms and concepts to an English-speaking audience.


  • Improving the performance of Muslim religious leadership in American society
  • Developing the next generation of leaders who are well grounded in Islamic knowledge and character
  • Familiarizing students with the core Islamic terms that a chaplain, imam, counselor, or educator will encounter and use in their research and service to the community
  • Demonstrating the need for proper understanding of core terms in the Islamic sciences for which there is not a common standard across disciplines or translators.
  • Preparing students who are interested in pursuing the full-time religious leadership program

Participant Learning Outcomes: 

  • Interpret and apply the core terms relevant to Islamic religious leadership that impact the views and perceptions of Muslim and interfaith communities
  • Prepare students to engage in writing, speaking, and interacting with their communities using the core vocabulary of Islamic religious leadership
  • Clarify misunderstandings of common terms and explain their proper meaning

Who should apply?

  • Required for: 
    • All students applying to the three-year Master’s in Islamic Leadership program (except those who pass the placement test or demonstrate previous training.)
    • All Muslims who have not formally studied the personally obligatory knowledge of belief, practice, and spirituality
  • Recommended for: parents, teachers, imams, chaplains, and interfaith workers.


A successful application will include a meeting with an academic advisor.


Carl Sharif El-Tobgui holds a B.S. in Arabic Language from Georgetown University and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from McGill University and currently serves as Associate Professor Arabic & Islamic Studies, and Director of the Arabic Language Program at Brandeis. He previously taught for five years at Harvard University as Preceptor of Arabic, and has also taught at the Middlebury College Summer Arabic Language School. Prof. El-Tobgui’s scholarly expertise lies in the field of Islamic thought, with a special concentration on theology, law, and jurisprudence. He is particularly interested in questions concerning the relationship between reason and revelation in the Islamic tradition, and has published on the manifestations of this tension in the fields of classical Islamic jurisprudence and Qur’anic exegesis. He has just completed his first monograph, a study of Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 1328) 10-volume work, “Refutation of Contradiction Between Reason and Revelation” (forthcoming, E.J. Brill, 2019). In addition to his expertise in Islamic thought, Prof. El-Tobgui has a deep love of language in general and of Classical Arabic in particular and has enjoyed for many years exploring the intricacies of Arabic grammar as well as classical literature and poetry with his students.


The Boston Islamic Seminary offers competitive tuition rates when considered against other non-degree academic programs offered by a variety of institutions throughout Greater Boston. Standard tuition is $400 per program, however, until our August 16th deadline, we are offering all programs at a substantial discount.

Fees $400


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 the financial aid application deadline is one week before the start-date of any given course. 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.