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The MS-1501 Islamic Civilisation and the Modern World is a compulsory breadth module which must be undertaken by all undergraduate students at UBD.

This undergraduate module offers a broad understanding of Islamic history, community (Ummah) and civilisation, and its impact on the modern world. Through an exposition of Islam’s tawhidic epistemology and Islam’s theoretical and practical teachings, spiritual and moral-ethical value system, this module aims to strengthen students’ sense of responsibility and identity formation, and show how to live an integrated, balanced and progressive life in the modern world. This module also explores the role of the al-Qur’ān and Sunnah as guidelines for holistic and balanced societal development. Further, it seeks to develop awareness and appreciation among students of the many contributions Islam has made to world civilisation and the modern world for the betterment of all humankind.

In order to engage effectively with our students, the module is conducted through various methods, including conventional method of face-to-face sessions, interactive online lectures, and podcast style. 

Lecture Outline

The Qur’ān is the principal guiding manual for mankind, augmented for understanding by the Prophet Muhammad’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) actions, sayings, and tacit approvals (taqrīr), to explain (bayān) the details of Allah’s Guidance. This lecture discusses how these two primary sources form the foundations constructing the Islamic Civilisation; influencing Muslim spirituality and thinking, society and culture, and shaping the different faces of Muslim societies around the world. The Qur’anic worldview is constructed not only on juristics and theology, but it is a manual for success in the dunya which leads to success in the akhirah.

This second lecture discusses the contexts within which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammadﷺ: the events before Islam, including the concept of jāhiliyyah, the condition of the Prophetﷺ before the Revelation, the 23-year period of Qur’ānic Revelation, the formation of Islamic worldview based on the Qur’ān and Prophetic Sunnah, the period of Rightly Guided Caliphs (al-Khulafā al-Rāshidūn), and the expansion of the Islamic empire during their times.

The religion of Islam has produced a great civilisation based on the essence of Islam known as tawhid, actualised through the teachings and examples of Prophet Muhammadﷺ. This Lecture will discuss how Islam spread to different parts of the world through Muslim conquests of territories and extensive trade networks, scholars, and missionaries. Its civilisation spread in lands as far apart as Central Asia, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, China, and Russia. The lecture will give an overview of the civilizational achievements of Muslims during the Abbasid, Andalusian, and Mughal periods, and in certain parts of Africa.

The fourth lecture will focus on socio-political and economic conditions in Europe and the Islamic empire from the 7th to the 17th century the Islamic civilisational influence has impacted the West in numerous ways such as science, philosophy, culture, art and architecture, music etc. European renaissance and the emergence of modern science and technology, orientalism, colonialism and current trends in the West in relation to Islam.

In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, globalisation is simply a reality of modern life. This lecture explains globalisation’s historical process, associated philosophies and related debates: the benefits and downsides of contemporary hyper-globalisation. Students will be enlightened about ideals and principles of Islamic economic system. Position & participation of Muslim countries in a globalised world will be touched as well. This background will help students better understand economic, cultural and political globalisation with its benefits and challenges for Islamic civilisation. The lecture will also discuss issues germinating from Muslim societies’ and governments’ interaction with emerging technological change and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Darwinian evolutionary thinking has permeated most branches of modern knowledge, ranging from history to physics. According to the Darwinian philosophical premise, life originated from ultimate particles of inorganic matter by chance and accident. In the context of COVID-19, there are scientists who claim that the pandemic is an example of a being that originates by random chance. This contrasts with the Islamic viewpoint of a pre-purposed and pre-established origins of life. Furthermore, philosopher John Dewey states that inquiring normative questions in the context of evolution will centre the discussion on “social Darwinism” which takes on the “law of the jungle” as a norm. This lecture will explore this, in the context of dealing with the contemporary pandemic.

Language and religion have both been considered as distinguishing and influential elements of culture and identity that interact with and influence each other. With regard to Islam, it is understood that there is no homogenous Muslim culture or identity and undoubtedly, there are as many cultures and identities within the Muslim population as there are members of it. Basing the discussion on the pragmatic concept suggested by Crystal (1999) which views identity and language from the perspective of its users, and using Brunei and Malay as the case study, this lecture will look at the effects of Islam on Malay and Malay on Islam; and consequently, the development of the Brunei Muslim identity.

Peace, safety and harmony at home is the essence of a healthy familial relationship. The Qur’an verse 21 of Surah Al-Rum says that Allah SWT created mates for us so that we can provide each other with tranquillity bases on mutual love and mercy. But what happens if these needs are breached? Between spouses, between “to teach”, “to warn” and “to beat”, what are the limits? When domestic violence happens, this definitely goes against the purpose of marital relationship. This lecture will discuss the misconceptions of the right of husband to “hit” the wife based on the verse 34 of Surah An-Nisa and Quranic ideals of marital relationship

The 2020 Covid pandemic caused many people to reflect deeper on life, learning, and what we really value. For many, these reflections transcend our regular thoughts to deeper issues towards humanity and nature. This lecture explores the complexities of how we see the world around us in the context of selfhood and how we see value. An Islamic understanding provides a path to go beyond our regular thoughts to deeper issues towards humanity and nature. Embodied actions can be seen as a pedagogy of life where we are shaped by a network of relationships. Finally, Islam sees peace in humanity by reaching out in a selfless way underpinned by a self-awareness, on how we see intrinsic and extrinsic value, which comes from a feeling of Truth in our existence; beyond self-interest.

The role of religion in state governance is contentious. The onset of secular thinking around the world, demanding the separation between state and religion, especially Islam, is actually in contradiction to the Muslims’ growing consciousness of Islam’s functional relevance for “good governance”. Islamic socio-political and economic prescriptions are being proven to be fairer and compassionate in a competitively unforgiving world. In this lecture, the basics of an Islamic system of governance are discussed; highlighting the universal Islamic principles necessary for civilisational progress.

Managing a group of people is an essential process to better create a developed society. If one does it poorly, the repercussions can not only affect yourself but others as well. The mismanagement by British Petroleum caused a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, severely affecting societies and wildlife until now. So how can we better manage and govern to create flourishing civilisations? This lecture explores holistic management by critical heads, virtuous hearts and skilful hands. By developing these aspects of humanity, only then can we truly progress.

From the very beginning, the Islamic Civilisation has been composed of different peoples, ethnicities and religions. This societal variety is an expression of Islam’s universal application, for all peoples, in different places, and different times. But everybody has different ideas and aspirations, as well. These ideational differences are crucial for enriching intellectual growth and civilisational development, which requires freedom of thought and expression. This lecture discusses the ethics of disagreement and the boundaries needed for constructive debate, and ultimately show the universality of Islam in a diverse world.

Programme Leader

Dr Majdey Zawawi
majdey.zawawi@ubd.edu.bn