Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
In association with the The Adler-Aquinas Institute and Aquinas School of Leadership
Member of the Alliance for Liberal Learning

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Great Books and the Muslim World

Zaytuna College describes itself as "the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States".

In elaborating on a Muslim liberal arts education it says,

"In his introduction to the 1952 publication of Great Books of the Western World, Robert Maynard Hutchins points out that it was considered self-evident, until recently, that 'No man was educated unless he was acquainted with the masterpieces of his tradition.' The Zaytuna curriculum takes this claim to heart, but grapples with an added challenge. As a Muslim liberal arts college in the West, Zaytuna aims to provide its students a foundation in the intellectual heritage of not one, but two major world civilizations: the Western and the Islamic. These civilizations share not only common roots but also common aims: to think deeply and systematically about the world (creation), to ponder its ultimate cause and purpose (Creator), and to live ethically in the course of our individual and collective lives (spirituality and politics)."
The question arises from time to time of whether something like Great Books of the Western World could be expanded beyond works within the Western tradition. Mortimer Adler himself said, regarding its 1990 second edition,
"One other omission that was probably a mistake on our part was not including references to the Koran (qur'an) along with the Old and New Testament in the Reference Section of the 102 chapters of the Syntopicon."
The College comes at this question from the other direction.
"A look at the historic timeline of the greatest books of Western civilization shows a significant gap between the years 400 (Augustine) and 1200 (Aquinas). While much of this period is known as the Dark Ages, Muslim intellectual life began to flourish after the 7th century and contributed to, in the terminology of Marshall Hodgson, 'the Great Western Transmutation,' ushering in the era of modernity."
While I did not see a detailed suggested Great Books curriculum along the lines of, say, St. John's College, Dr. Shirin Maskatia's post on his Engaging the Great Books course included some familiar titles.

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