It is our mission to teach comparative religions with specialization in Islam. Today we live in a world of conflict, which is entirely man made, and each day brings darker skies of Jihadi conflict to the world at large; wherein a few fanatics have hijacked the ideology of Islam and deeply branded a religion of peace with zealotry and terrorism.
There are only two options in fighting terrorism; first is political, and the second is theological. You cannot win the first without the understanding of the second. You have an enemy who uses scripture to develop relationship with those whose understanding of the scripture is minimal, and in fact is based on emotion, rather than truth or reason. When you hold dialog with the majority with functional knowledge of their history, and scripture; only then will you overcome the enemy who seeks to expand terrorism to win converts to their limited and deceptive ideology.
Imagine fighting a war with blindfold on your eyes. The enemy can find unlimited recruits; he can overcome all the technology that we can throw at him. We can not win the war as it is being fought. The war requires an in-depth assessment of the enemy and his tools for recruitment, which we must blunt theologically, technologically and politically.
Study of comparative religions allows understanding the theological and social perspective of a people. Fact is that there is much that the Catholic and Baptist do not know of each other, even though both are Christians. Now try to realize that you may have little or no real knowledge of the Muslim theology, and its relationship to the Christian and Jewish theologies. Take this a step forward and ask your self: How do you form a global understanding of a people without minimally understanding them, and simply slating them in the same column, as Christians and Jews? Do you realize the difference between Muslims from say from Africa to those living in South Asia; they neither share language nor Culture, nor have similar education. Yet you may be forming opinions about them in complete darkness.
It is interesting that despite billions of pages on the web, our fundamental knowledge of others is at the same level as it was when no mass media existed, wherein people could not read about others on an immediate basis. The question then arises as to why the Occidental people did not achieve understanding of Islam? Do you know if Islam is an Oriental or Occidental religion?
The answer to the above is that religions are more complex then standard theories of physics, for the result can not be replicated in any standard form. Thus we study religions theoretically, for going beyond theory requires specific understanding of history, philosophy, scripture, psychology, sociology and geography of the religion.
There are some awesome scholars of religion who are not Muslim, yet their understanding is better than any practicing Muslim. Unfortunately, we do not find the same understanding of the Torah and New Testament amongst Muslims, who speak polemically as do we the Americans and Europeans about the Muslims whom we tend to paint with the same brush since, the 09/11 without real understanding of the respective scriptures, history, etc.
Virginia Theological University was the first school of Theology to go online, in 1995. Our mission has always been to teach the three Western religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, our Mission has changed as has our history due to the events of 2001. Today, we specifically research and teach Islam for a better understanding of the faith. In this we seek to supplement the previous with the new courses, and new research within the field of applied Islamic law, and its regulatory environment, its history, philosophy, and sects. In this we stand alone as the only institution to move towards teaching that which is immediately applicable to the soldier serving in the Middle East, as well as the Policy makers, government employee and law enforcement at home.
We use the technology to better communicate and teach. Our purpose is to support low cost education, for those who seek to learn and serve. Our costs are capped by using the current infrastructure in communications technology. We undertake this noblest of experiments not to mass-produce graduates, but rather to develop "scholars".
Only time will tell if we succeed or fail. We will have many critics and many admirers. We seek to do the best, without attempting to impress or win admiration of any particular group. Knowledge is the handmaiden of reason. We find ourselves intertwined with logic at all levels.
We forget that earning university degree, does not necessarily translate into attained knowledge for the graduate. True knowledge is based upon continued education in one’s lifetime. If our student has already learned all he could, then we would not be able to develop in him the logical capacity we seek to induct in the fabric of our students. The majority of our students come to us after having earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in another subject from other universities.
Our motto means: “By Teaching We Learn”. We inducted technology to expand our research, methods and collaborate through the usage of web 2.0 technology thereby creating a paradigm sift for we are the vanguard of educational institution inducting tomorrow’s technology today.
Our teaching method allows the student to complete their degree program or diplomat program at their own pace. The student can concentrate on one subject at a time, instead of being inundated with multiple subjects and time restrictions. Other than that, in the matter of education, our philosophy is exactly that of traditional schools. Come learn from us, serve with us, and be a part of the community of knowledge.