A Course... A Door of Opportunity
I have been a student of political or radical Islam since 1987 when I first started working on my doctorate in Islamics. The dissertation for my doctorate was on Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt which ended up being published as a book with the title The Rumbling Volcano. I have taught as an adjunct professor a course at several seminaries in the states and at one seminary in Canada for many years. The course I taught and continue to teach at two seminaries in the States is on "Islam and Current Events" or "Islam and the Geopolitics of the Middle East." Students are awarded three credit hours for successfully completing the course. It’s my desire to teach this course free of charge to people who do not care about earning official credits but want to learn the material and are willing to commit their time and read the required books. How did this idea come about?
In May 2016, I was asked to teach a Sunday school class of "Global Missions and Outreach" at New Life Church in Colorado Springs on the topic "What do you really think of Muhammad and the Qur'an?" I ended up addressing that important question in three sessions over three consecutive Sundays, each session lasting 70 minutes. At the end of the first session, a lady came to me and told me that she and her husband are moving to the Middle East and she wondered if I could teach them the entire course in June, before they leave the country. Because of their eagerness to learn and impending move, I decided to do it. Soon thereafter, four more people joined them and we had the class over several weekends.
With more than 1.8 billion Muslims in the world today, it is predicted that in a few years Muslims will become a quarter of world’s population. Along with interaction, this course will include lectures and video documentaries addressing:
Trends in Islam including the Gulen movement and Deobandi Islam
Muhammad and the Qur'an
Islamic fundamentalist leaders who paved the way for ISIS/ISIL/IS
How to reach out to Muslims
The Muslims' worldview
The great debate: Islam/the Qur'an has no problem... Islam/the Qur'an has a problem... Islam/the Qur'an is the problem. What is the truth?
The Israel/Palestine conflict
Christendom Vs. the Kingdom of God
Unleashing the gospel
Issues in contextualization
One of the unique aspects of this course wherever I teach it, is the fact that Barbara, my wife, covers us in prayer during most of the class hours. At times some prayer partners of ours join her in praying for the class. What a privilege it is for me to teach when my students and I are covered in prayer during class time.
Here are some quotes from the responses of my students at the end of the course in June 2016.
This is, quite frankly, the most challenging course I have ever taken. It is really stretching my brain! This first book has totally rocked my thinking. Wow. Talk about an eye-opening book for any believer. Thank you for making it a required read.
My heart is full of joy as a result of this class. Fear has been displaced with God’s love for Muslims. Thank you, for allowing us into your home, making us so welcome and skillfully lifting the veil of ignorance that clouded our perceptions.
Thanks again for inviting me to the class. It was truly one of those lifetime opportunities for me… I loved that we did the class at your house… The dynamic of being in your home and going through the class with a small group is irreplaceable.
Never before have I had a class affect me as much as this one has. It’s amazing how freeing knowledge is.
It was definitely life-changing course for me and I'm grateful to have had the chance to be in the class... I want to take time to digest all of the information we received, to read more, to pray more, to let the Holy Spirit continue to transform my heart and mind so that my pride and any prejudice, fear, superiority or entitlement is removed so that all I know is Christ."
Here is a quote from a mature leader and a former missionary after taking the 40 hours course over five Saturdays at our home:
In terms of the overall course, I felt one of the benefits was that many of the concepts you share are applicable on a much wider scope than just Muslim ministry. I was blessed (and challenged!) by the thoroughness of your research and by the balance of your presentation, that is, pointing out both sides of an issue, and the one you favor and why. Obviously, it is a most timely ministry God has given you. Another one of the benefits is the reading list - something I would have found bewildering, not knowing what books to read nor knowing how to prioritize them as to their significance or usefulness. So, thank you very, very much. And how many courses does one take where the lunches are provided in such delightful fashion as Barbara did, and the priceless value of her intercession. We are deeply grateful for you both!
An executive leader in a big mission organization wrote:
One of the great delights I had recently was to complete a graduate seminary course on Islam and the Geopolitics of the Middle East at the home of Dr. Nabeel Jabbour. This course was one of the most helpful, motivating, and life-impacting development experiences I have had since completing seminary 26 years ago.
A man on the mission field in a Muslim country wrote:
I do want to say again that attending your class before we left was priceless.
A physician who took my course wrote:
This was one of the most influential educational experiences I have had.
Another person who took the course wrote:
Thank you again for this challenging and enjoyable course. I would take it again in a heartbeat.
When Barbara prays for me and the students, among other things, she asks God for a spirit of unity and oneness. She also asks God for honesty and freedom in sharing during the class hours and that there will be a secure atmosphere where people will feel free to be vulnerable. Here is a short segments from the response of one of the students after teaching at Denver Seminary.
So as we all go back to our lives and re-enter society, I wonder how the rest of my fellow classmates are feeling? There is no denying that together, we went on a pilgrimage. And I wonder how we will act towards each other the next time our paths cross at the Seminary. I feel as though I’ll never forget the time we spent, and if I pass one of these new friends in the hall, and our eyes do meet, we’ll both be able to communicate to each other that our lives in some way or another, have forever been marked by this class.
One of those who took the course in 2019 whom I came to know and highly respect wrote on the final day of class at the seminary:
One of the things I have appreciated in this entire course – the largest aha moment - is the coherency of the different lessons and the collective clarity that they bring. Many of the subjects are subjects I have previously been exposed to, but through both the depth of the material and the interconnectedness of the topics I am gaining many new insights and many new avenues for future study. This course is a tremendous capstone-type course for a program in Islamic studies since it solidifies foundations while at the same time launching for a lifetime of study. Regarding my lifetime of study, the prioritized reading list that you recommended is probably the most valuable part of the class to me. As I find myself resonating with your postures and approaches to the topics, I also look forward to reading those books that you have identified as the most important.
I usually give the list of recommended readings to those who take the course on Islam and the geopolitics of the Middle East. After taking the course, they can choose from the 70+ recommended books what they want to read as they continue on the journey of learning.
One of the issues we spend extended time on during the course is Political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. We address the theological roots of ISIL and how they inspire lone wolves through social media? We all are keenly aware that intelligence agencies and governments around the world are working very hard to find indoctrinated lone wolves who operate as terrorists in countries around the world.
What happened in Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chelsea and at several cities in Europe and other parts of the world are a grim reminder of that danger. This work of finding the indoctrinated lone wolves is very important because ISIL is not just a core army and organization; it also has affiliates such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, and through the Internet they actively try to inspire lone wolves to act on their behalf. Finding these lone wolves is like looking for needles in very large haystacks, and it’s a challenging and a very costly task.
But my question is this: What are these governments doing, if anything, to prevent the "hay" from becoming "needles"? We need to be bifocal: finding the needles is the short-term and urgent task, but the long-range, bigger picture goal should be to protect the hay from becoming needles. It is in the bigger picture that I hope my course can play a role. Taking this course will help you go beyond the headlines and delve deeper into the complex issues in our broken world, as well as remind you that God is in full control. And with the knowledge gained and the Lord’s leading, maybe you will have an effect in the bigger picture of determining whether are we subtracting needles or multiplying them.
If a church in the Colorado Springs area or any town or city within short driving distance wants to have the 40 to 44-hour course at their church for more than eight people, I am willing to do it over four weekends, meeting as a class in your church on Fridays from 5:30 to 8:30 PM and Saturdays from 9 AM to 5 PM. Or over five Saturdays from 8 AM to 5 PM with an hour break for lunch.
I am also willing to drive or fly to any church in the U.S. that would like to host the course. In that instance, I would teach the course in five 8-hour days, Monday through Friday or Tuesday through Saturday, or Thursday through Tuesday with Sunday off. There should be a minimum of eight students.
If your church is interested in inviting me and you can mobilize people in your church to commit to taking the course, please contact me and I will send you the needed information.
If you and/or your spouse live in the Colorado Springs area and would like to take the course at our home, please contact me by email. The maximum number of people we can take at our home is seven. It will be over five Saturdays from 8 AM to 5 PM with an hour break for lunch. We also have an additional half a Sunday starting with lunch at our home then four hours of class time.
My students at Columbia International University in Columbia, SC, pay to the seminary $1,200 for my three credit course. I love to teach my course free of charge to eager learners.
Using our house for teaching the course brought back cherished memories from our days in Egypt, when our apartment was always busy with purposeful activities, whether with individuals, small groups or a full house. We are enjoying the repetition of this experience again and again at our home. It is exciting to be around committed Christians who demonstrate true eagerness and a desire to understand the complexities of Islam and the Muslim world.