Ihsan Academy is an Islamic educational program held in Istanbul that aims to provide a firm intellectual and spiritual grounding for young Muslims across the world. Our first summer intensive will be held this August and will feature classes with distinguished scholars of Islam, weekend spiritual retreats, and guided workshops.
At the Ihsan Academy, we believe that the best approach to tackling the moral, social, and political issues of our time is to train our youth to think more critically and creatively about the modern world while simultaneously deepening their knowledge of the Islamic tradition and spiritual connection. Our philosophy of education is based on a holistic orientation that incorporates both mind and soul. Likewise, we view the study of the past and present not as separate endeavors, but connected and integral parts of the larger project of creating a better future.
Muslims have for too long been ruptured from their rich history, forced to succumb to a world not of their own making. Thus, our educational program aims to provide students with the tools to act as conscious social critics in their communities and proud carriers of the radiant mantle of Islam. Our hope is not simply to revive this beautiful heritage, but rather to rebuild Islam as a living and vibrant tradition that can provide solutions to the universal problems we all face in the modern world.
More than a thousand years ago, in a cave tucked away in the deserts of Arabia, the world changed with the declaration of a single word. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was ordered by God to read in the name of his Lord. Never before had a civilization begun with the command to learn and spread the truth. It is our hope to return to this foundation by reviving the spirit of learning and deep reflection that is at the very heart of the Islamic tradition.
In the spirit of iqra’, we have created a program that will provide young Muslims with the opportunity to take a break from their busy lives and devote themselves solely to the study of Islam and the world around them. During the course of the program, students will immerse themselves in the rich intellectual tradition of the Islamic religious sciences, recite and reflect on the classics of our multi-lingual poetic heritage, and debate the complexities of our rapidly changing world. Beyond the walls of the classroom, students will also learn to better read themselves by engaging in time-tested spiritual practices rooted in the Prophetic tradition.
Ihsan is usually translated as “excellence” or “perfection.” In the Qur’an, God tells us that we were created in the most excellent of forms. When He orders us to do good, He tells us to do so with excellence. As Muslims then, we believe that we are born with the ability to perfect ourselves and are commanded to spend our lives in this effort. At the Ihsan Academy, we hope to play a part in this endeavor by giving young Muslims the chance to grow intellectually and spiritually through the deep study of Islam and a careful examination of the current state of their world.
We also hope to push the Muslim ummah towards excellence by training our future generations to think more critically and carefully about the many problems that plague our community today. In this vein, our focus is not only the transmission of knowledge, but the active creation of solutions that can be practically applied in the day-to-day of modern life. Beyond the confines of our community, we know that we were not sent to this world only to serve each other, but to spread this message of truth in the most excellent way possible to all of mankind. In our chaotic times, this means that Muslims must act as a “prophetic, dissenting witness within the reality of the modern world.” It is with this philosophy of excellence and commitment to the search for truth in mind that Ihsan Academy offers its first ever summer intensive.
Recep Şentürk is the President of Ibn Haldun University (IHU) in Istanbul, Turkey. Professor Şentürk holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Department of Sociology, and specializes in civilization studies, sociology and Islamic studies with a focus on social networks, human rights, and modernization in the Muslim world.
Rushain Abbasi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His research focuses on the conception of religion in Islam vis-à-vis the secular domain and its development from the medieval to the modern period. He was previously an instructor at the Boston Islamic Seminary.
Mehmet Efe Akengin is studying Computer Science and Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is interested in artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, and the problem of technology in the modern world. He served as the president of MIT Muslim Students Association and is involved in the Boston Muslim community.
Ahmet Tarık Çaşkurlu graduated from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 2017 with a major in International Politics and a certificate in African Studies. He currently works at the International Office of Ibn Haldun University.
Muhammed Alboğa is a Ph.D. candidate at Alliance of Civilizations Institute (ACI) in Istanbul.
Zeynep Çelik is studying Economics and Mathematics at Georgetown University. She is developing proficiency in Japanese and is interested in economic development in relation to technology as a factor of Turkish-Japanese relations.
Nurullah Güleç is studying at Boğaziçi University with a double major in Economics and Mathematics. Nurullah is also fourth year studying Islamic Sciences at the ISAR Istanbul Research and Education Foundation.
Nur Sevencan is graduating from Wellesley College with a degree in Economics and concentration in Art history in 2017. She is interested in art history, urban planning, and developmental economics. She is the marketing director and regular contributor of https://themuslimahdiaries.com/.