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Rabbi Rami: Should I Pursue a PhD in Islamic Studies?


Marouan Idrissi Hamouki/Thinkstock

Rabbi Rami answers your spiritual questions.

I’m a Muslim pursuing a PhD in Islamic Studies. I know you did something similar with Judaism, and I wonder if you still think this is a valuable pursuit. Rabbi Rami: Not only is it valuable, it may well be essential for both the flourishing of Islam and the world. Applying modern scholarship (literary criticism, textual criticism, philology, history, sociology, anthropology, etc.) to the study of the Bible allows Jews and Christians to deepen their understanding of the Bible, to liberate its perennial wisdom from its parochial biases, and to read this ancient text in new, creative, and meaningful ways. Applying the same disciplines to the Qur’an can do the same for Muslims. If you have sufficient passion and courage to carry out a scholarly and spiritual revolution in the Islamic world, this is the way to do it. I cannot imagine a worthier pursuit. I think of myself as liberal, yet I have no tolerance for those who support the 2017 anti-LGBTQI Christian Manifesto called the Nashville Statement. What should I do? First, stop equating “liberal” with “tolerant.” Liberals stand for things including …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler," addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more.

His newest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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