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The academic program at ISTAC emphasizes the study of all aspects of Islamic thought and civilization, the major world religions and the modern, secular world. Its aim is to create a learning institution which reflects the aspirations of man and encourages the development of all his faculties to produce the perfect man, who is accountable to God. The emphasis is on the universal rather than on the particular. The international character of the academic staff and the student population testifies to this philosophy.

The graduate program is intellectually, spiritually and humanly linked to the sources of Islamic revelation and to fourteen centuries of Islamic scholarship. It seeks to preserve the traditional elements of Muslim education, one of which is the intimate master-disciple relationship through which both ethical and intellectual guidance is imparted.

The teachers and their students come from various academic backgrounds—law, theology, philosophy, political science, library science, psychology, medicine, biology, dentistry, architecture, economics, history, education, business management, literature, engineering, astronomy and Islamic studies. While the medium of instruction at ISTAC is English, proficiency in the Arabic language is compulsory for all degree-seeking students.

The student body and teaching staff are made up of people from Malaysia, other parts of Southeast Asia, the Far East, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. ISTAC offers courses in five main, distinct, yet overlapping, areas of studies, namely, Islamic and Other Civilizations; Philosophy, Theology, Ethics and Contemporary Issues; Islamic Spirituality and Contemporary Society; Islamic Science; and the Contemporary Muslim World: Regions and Issues. Since ISTAC began operating officially in late 1991, 128 students have obtained their Master’s degrees and 83 their Ph.Ds.