The Qur'an

May 2012

Utter disappointment. As an upperclassman who has had the privilege of taking some wonderful professors (and some not so wonderful ones), I consistently left Haider's classroom angry and frustrated. I am not one to shy away from demanding classes, and some of my favorite lectures have been ones for which I have spent hours every week reading, researching and writing. Professor Haider prides himself on- indeed at times it seems above all else - the amount of work he gives. He does not seem to understand that the homework was usually pointless, and by the end of the semester, over 100 hours of a largely wasted time. Haider was more interested in us "thinking" than "getting the right answer" in our homeworks. Now this is a nice idea in high school, or perhaps for an occasional assignment in college, but not for the amount of time we were expected to sacrifice from other classes in order to complete his homework. He constantly ridiculed many secondary sources on Islamic texts, and therefore urged us to draw our own conclusions based on our readings of the text. Again, that is a nice idea once in a while, but not for almost an entire semester in an institution of higher learning that prides itself on building and questioning previous academic experts, historians and theologians, who have spent far greater time looking at the Qur'an than we had. The structure of the class was terrible. It began with a 1/2 hour presentation by students on the homework we had completed, which was either repetitive or as Haider would later go on to show, wrong. Presentations occasionally are okay, but not every day. The rest of the class was spent going over the homework, in which Haider would present his idea of what the real answer to the questions were. This was completely backwards - if only Haider had presented material first in class, then he could have given us questions to answer at home that allowed us to use the knowledge he had imparted on us. Additionally, asking an obscene number of questions for every homework precluded the students from answering each one insightfully. I came into the class excited to learn about the Qur'an. I left the class having read a large part of the Qura'n, and with some general insight into its formation. Beyond that, nothing.

Apr 2012

Prof. Haider should be commended for being an old school professor; he's intimidating, demanding, and uncompromising in his expectations, which are high. He expects constant improvement, and effort is less relevant than results in your work. His demeanor in class is endearing, and his way of presenting material is both down-to-earth and incredibly knowledgeable, but he can be quite harsh so that you're constantly trying to impress him, or, rather, stay afloat, because he usually shuts you down. The work that he assigned this semester was incredible in its scope and consistency. For each class we had to complete somewhat of a problem set on a collection of verses of or readings on the Qur'an, and they were graded on a scale of 1-10. Analysis is expected for every question, and while I regularly turned in three to four pages (single-spaced!) I received a few 9.5s, but mostly 9s. You will get a lot out of this class, but take it only if you are ready to commit to a semester's worth of not much else beside this class. He expects 100% participation and preparation at all times, and usually more than you expect until you realize that's the case, and if you're not prepared for it, you can get railroaded pretty quickly.

Feb 2006

I HATED this class! Prof. Yavari never seemed to have a clear goal for the class, and consequently her lectures tended to be drift to whatever was on her mind that day. Friends who had her for two classes told me that the lectures were often the same. Is she an intelligent professor? By all means. Did she prepare for class? Doubtful. What did I learn about the Qu'ran from her? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Dec 2005

I LOVED Professor Yavari. Even though her lectures could be a bit confusing to follow, her teaching style (loud) inevitably engages the student in the discussion. That means two things: do the readings (even though there are a lot of readings) and SHOW UP. She takes attendance. The perspective from which the class approaches the scripture and the history really encourages you to read critically and is not at all the "traditional" way of looking at the Qur'an (not really sure what I mean by that, but you get the point). She is a bit of a tough grader, more so as the semester progresses, and the final paper was definitely a challenge. But if you are interested in the subject and want a seminar that will keep you awake for the full 1h50 (a rare feat these days), take this class.