Abraham Center (AC)

David Star

Abraham Center

The Abraham Center is a unique place of study for service among the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Faculty in the Abraham Center bring a wealth of scholarly expertise and field experience to its academic programs.

Programs   |   Courses   |   Faculty


The mission of the Abraham Center is to provide training and research opportunities for students so that they can pursue scholarly, professional, and intercultural activities in Abrahamic faith communities.  At the Abraham Center students gain:

  • Working knowledge of Abrahamic faith traditions
  • Developing skills for the Abrahamic world
  • Strategies for comparative engagement with cultural, social, political, and religious dimensions of the Abrahamic communities.
  • Skills to develop and implement strategies for bridging differences in worldview and value systems.

Whether you’re passionate about the arts, cross-cultural service, or comparative Abrahamic studies, the Abraham Center at GIAL is the place for you! We invite you to visit our campus, attend a class, and talk with professors one-on-one to learn more about the programs that interest you.  Contact us by email at Abraham_Center@gial.edu or by phone 214-442-8657.

You can also view the latest newsletter from the Abraham Center here.

Degrees & Programs

Graduate Certificate in Islamic Studies

This 15 credit certificate program prepares students to comprehend 21st century Islamic thought and practices by providing a basic understanding of Islamic cultures, history, and religion.

MA with Major in Abrahamic Studies

The MA with a major in Abrahamic Studies prepares students to serve cross-culturally in and with the Abrahamic communities of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Concentrations: Islamic Worldviews, Abrahamic Worldview (student crafted)

MA with Major in Language and Culture Studies and a concentration in Islamic Worldviews

The MA with a major in Language & Culture Studies prepares students to work as specialists in their field across language and culture boundaries.  With the concentration in Islamic Worldviews, our graduates focus on Islamic cultures and their social, political, and religious worldview.  This degree is offered in partnership with GIAL’s Applied Anthropology department.

MA with Major in World Arts and a concentration in Arts & Islam

The Abraham Center teams up with the Center for Excellence in World arts to provide a World Arts major with a concentration in Arts & Islam.  This degree program combines these topics for students interested in both Islamic studies and World Arts.


Featured Abraham Center courses are listed below. Visit GIAL’s courses page for complete offerings.  While most courses are offered at the Graduate level, we do offer some undergraduate courses in partnership with the College of International Studies at GIAL.

AC5310 Core Components of Islam

This course examines core elements which must be dealt with in relating to Muslims—worldviews, values, symbol systems, and other cultural expressions of Muslim peoples.  Specific attention is given to the influence of major Islamic shapers in creating Islamized assumptions and allegiances, diversity, and contemporary social and religious expressions.  Attention is also given to areas calling for incarnational consideration in relating to Muslims.

AC5312 Islam in the 21st Century

This course explores practical and ideological variations within Islam’s current social, political and economic life, concepts and structures. Struggles with contemporary development needs, modernization and relations with the West are noted. Insights that can facilitate understanding, meaningful communication and relationship building between East and West are noted.

AC5314 Modern Islamic Religious and Political Movements

This course focuses on contemporary Islamic reform and revitalization movements, their rise and development, current status, and implications for Muslim self-understanding. Particular attention is given to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Gulen Movement, and to the secularists who emerged from the Arab Spring. Along with brief background information on Islam, this course lays the foundation of current trends, examines the issues behind the militant movement, suggests some possible responses, and looks at the competing ideological struggle between modernity and fundamentalism. Special attention will be given to understanding and constructively responding to the historical Middle East conflict.

AC5315 Abrahamic Monotheism: Abrahamic faiths, their origins and interactions

This course explores the origins and characteristics of monotheism including ways that religious cultures with no prior history of this concept have adopted it.  The course considers “Abrahamic” and “non-Abrahamic” forms of monotheism within cultural life, individual identity and cross-cultural encounter.

AC5316 Contextualization Issues Among Muslim Peoples (Online)

This course seeks to explore the nature of culturally sensitive service (contextualization) as it applies to Islamic settings, noting the history, challenges, limitations, chief components, successes and failures of such activities.  Attention is given to the widespread presence of animistic practices among Muslim peoples, the nature of those expressions and the special challenges they present to culturally relevant service.  Appropriate guidelines for effective service will be explored.

AC5318 Understanding the Qur'an

This study of the Qur’an examines its organization, history of compilation, variant manuscript readings, and major themes. Students will become familiar with the major approaches to its interpretation, historical subtext in the Qur’an, and how this affects interpretation of key texts in light of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Practical issues of etiquette, characteristics of various English translations, and how to read the Qur’an will also be studied.

GIAL Abraham Center Faculty


Mark Harlan, Associate Professor

Abraham Center, Department Head
PhD, Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, 2005; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1984; BS, United States Air Force Academy, 1974.
Field work: Egypt, Jordan, Sudan
Languages spoken: Arabic


Jeffrey Feinberg, Assistant Professor

Abraham Center
PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1988; MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1985; BA, University of California at Berkeley, 1972.
Field work: Peru, Israel, American Messianic Jewish community
Languages spoken: Greek, French, and Spanish


Kurt Anders Richardson, Associate Professor

Abraham Center
DTh, University of Basel, 1993; MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1983; BA, Los Angeles Baptist College, 1979.
Field work: Eurasia, Asia, Canada
Languages spoken: German

C. Jonn Block, Adjunct Faculty

Abraham Center
PhD, University of Exeter, 2012; MA, School of Intercultural Studies, 2007.
Field work: Eastern Europe, Arabian Peninsula
Languages spoken: Arabic, French, Estonian

Robert Douglas, Adjunct Faculty

Abraham Center
PhD, University of Southern California, 1980; MA, Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission, 1977; MA, Abilene Christian University, 1957; BA, Abilene Christian University, 1956.
Field work: Egypt, Libya, Lebanon