Advancing Study, Dialogue, and Understanding
Both the Islamic term, Madrasa, and the Hebrew term, Midrasha, refer to a place of study.
The Madrasa-Midrasha Program at the Graduate Theological Union explores the richness, diversity, differences, and commonalities of the Jewish and Islamic traditions. A collaborative effort between the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies, the program seeks to advance study, dialogue, and understanding on Jewish and Islamic texts and contexts within academia and the larger public. In addition to offering cross-cultural academic courses to GTU students, the program offers workshops, lectures, and panel discussions to the public at large in the greater San Francisco Bay area.
Madrasa (Arabic: مدرسة)
The Arabic word madrasa refers to any type of educational institution, secular or religious, whether for elementary instruction or higher learning. The word derives from the tri-consonantal Semitic root د-ر-س (D-R-S) meaning “to learn or study.”
Midrasha (Hebrew: מדרשה)
The modern Hebrew word midrasha refers to a place of Jewish learning. It grew out of the words beit midrash, an ancient rabbinic term that means house of study. The Hebrew root of midrashsa refers to the process of inquiring into sacred texts to derive meaning.
Meet the Program Director: Dr. Mahjabeen Dhala
“Dr. Dhala brings a range of expertise to this important position with solid scholarship and teaching in Islamic studies, and more widely in theology, religious studies, and women’s studies. Her global leadership, her work in advancing interreligious and intercultural education and dialogue within academia and the larger public sphere, and her tireless efforts in advocating for equity, inclusion, and justice are truly remarkable and inspiring and will play an important role as she directs the Madrasa-Midrasha Program.” – Dr. Munir Jiwa, Founding Director of the Center for Islamic Studies
Center for Islamic Studies
Established in 2007, the Center for Islamic Studies (CIS) offers a Certificate, Master’s degree, and Doctoral Track in Islamic studies. Scholars and students of many faiths learn about Islamic texts and traditions, and the diversity of Muslims in their theological, cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts. The CIS has emerged has emerged as a premier institution advancing interdisciplinary scholarship and innovative pedagogy, and emphasizing study and dialogue within and across religious traditions, leadership, public engagement, and social justice.
“At the GTU, pluralism is not only a topic for scholarship but a critical praxis. What a rich environment for interreligious, intrareligious, intercultural, international, and interdisciplinary study, dialogue, and service.”
Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies
The Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) was launched in 1968 at a time when there were few full-time professors in Jewish studies in the United States, and most American universities subsumed the study of Jews to Christian theological concerns. Today, the CJS is a premier center for the advanced study of Jewish history, literature, and culture, hosting a wide range of public events and offering an academic certificate program, a Master of Arts in Jewish studies, and a range of concentrations in fields related to Jewish studies for GTU doctoral students.
“The study of religion at the GTU is a sincere, serious, and often critical endeavor. Our work at the Center for Jewish Studies transcends the boundaries of religion and culture, building new models of interreligious and intercultural conversation.”