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Islamic Classics

What is the Islamic Classics Summer Program?

The Islamic Classics Summer Program is an 8-week, not-for-credit, summer course created to introduce inquisitive learners to the fundamental texts of Islam. The program utilizes the primary text, discussion-focused classes traditional to the St. John’s College approach to liberal arts education. Studies are divided between three types of class: Tutorial, Seminar, and Preceptorial, each covering a different aspect of Islam.

A copy of the syllabus is available for download here.

What are the components of the program?

Tutorial: will explore the visionary works of three Sufi writers, ’Attar, Rumi, and Ibn al-’Arabi.

Seminar: will revolve around pivotal classics of Islamic philosophy and theology. Participants will take up works of those who built upon the legacies of Greek thought: Ibn Tufayl, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Averroes, and Ibn Khaldun.

Preceptorial: participants will read Islam’s foundational texts: the Qur’an and Ibn Ishaq’s biography of Muhammad. The Qur’an, like its scriptural precedents, looks to Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and other revered Biblical forebears, recounting and extending their stories. The biography of Muhammad documents the origins of Islam and illustrates the backdrop against which the Qur’an was communicated.

Readings, questions, and discussions with fellow inquirers will open windows on the ways in which great Muslim writers have contemplated, conversed with one another, and entered into dialogue with the rest of the West.

Who teaches the classes?

All classes are taught by full-time St. John’s College faculty, whom we call “tutors” instead of “professors” because their chief role in the classroom is to guide rather than to lecture. No adjunct faculty or teaching assistants will be responsible for any classroom instruction.

St. John’s College requires fearless engagement with the primary texts of a subject. No lectures, textbooks, or third-party essays are required to prepare for class.

St. John’s classes are discussions between students, gently moderated by a faculty member. The tutor begins class with a question in order to inspire a lively discussion focused on the text. Occasionally he or she will interject to maintain the momentum of the class, or to encourage a promising thread of conversation. This process allows students to put forth their own questions and interpretations of the material, as well as to inspect the variety of other interpretations offered by their classmates, and discover new angles of discussion and interpretation.

How big will the classes be?

Class size is limited to 16 students to ensure a more engaged learning environment.

Class Schedule

The Islamic Classics Summer Program is held at the St. John’s College Santa Fe campus.

Tutorial – M/W 3:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Seminar – M/Th 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Preceptorial – T/Th 3:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Who can apply?

College students, graduate or undergraduate, and anyone 18 and older interested in openly exploring the ancient texts of Islam and discussing the variety of philosophical, theological, and practical questions which arise from the readings.

How do I apply?

An application form is available for download here. A complete application needs to include both the application and a letter of interest explaining your past experience with the St. John’s College seminar method of discussion, and/or an account of your interest in studying Islamic texts as a liberal art and engaging in the Socratic method of classroom discussion (as opposed to lecture classes).

Return both the letter of interest and completed application form to santafe.gisummer(at), or mail to

Graduate Institute Summer Programs
c/o St. John’s College
1160 Camino Cruz Blanca
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Application Deadlines

  • Applications will be accepted until the program is full. The deposit to secure a space is $500.
  • Applications received after the program fills will be put on a waiting list in the order in which they are received and notified if a space opens up.

Withdrawal Dates and Fees

Participants who withdraw from the Islamic Classics Summer Program within the first week will be reimbursed 75% of their tuition; within the second week, 50%; within the third week, 25%. Participants who withdraw during or after the fourth week of classes will receive no reimbursement.

Financial Aid

The Graduate Institute Summer Programs are not-for-credit courses, and therefore not available for financial aid. A small number of stipends will be made available to currently enrolled college students who demonstrate a financial need. This statement must be included in the application.

On Campus Housing/Meal Plans

A limited number of on-campus dorm rooms are available for summer program students. Those interested should contact Scott W. Hannan in the Graduate Institute Office for availability and cost.


Contact Scott W. Hannan
505-984-6050 / santafe.gisummer(at)