PISAI (en)

Pontifical Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica

“I wish the PISAI community may never betray its primary purpose of listening and dialogue, founded on distinct identities, on the passionate, patient and vigorous search for truth and beauty, sown by the Creator in the heart of every man and woman and truly visible in every authentic religious expression.”

Pope Francis

Pisai An institute of excellence, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies is proud of its long tradition in the academic training of Christians for dialogue with Muslims. Founded in Tunis in 1926 by the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), the institute was transferred to Rome in accordance with the wishes of H.H. Pope Paul VI in 1964. Over the years, it has gradually moved on, changing its name and its methodology so as to attain its current title and objectives.

Since 2006, thanks to the personal interest shown by H.H. Pope Benedict XVI, PISAI, while still entrusted to the care of the White Fathers, benefits from the direct guardianship of the Holy See. Many of those working in the field of dialogue with Muslims in both past and present have passed through a period of training at PISAI.


PISAI currently offers its considerable expertise in providing:

    • a scientific knowledge of Islam through
      • an in-depth study of Arabic, the privileged means of access to the founding texts;
      • a study of the more important aspects of Islamic culture;
    • keys which enable students
      • to reach a deep understanding of Islam;
      • to attain a well-founded competence in interreligious dialogue;
      • to contribute to the construction of a more just and harmonious society.

Study programme

  • INTRODUCTORY YEAR: for students who have no previous knowledge of Arabic nor Islamic Studies or who have only an elementary knowledge. Those who have acquired a certain competence at other institutes may take the exam for admission to the First Year of Licentiate. Upon completing the course, students are awarded the Postgraduate Foundation Diploma in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
  • FIRST YEAR: offers students an in-depth study of Arabic, Islamic Studies and Muslim-Christian Dialogue. On satisfactorily completing the course, students are awarded the Diploma in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
  • SECOND YEAR: presupposes that the student can already read and understand Arabic with ease. The aim is to deepen the understanding of certain fundamental aspects of Islamic culture and religious thought. Upon completing the course and producing the thesis, students are awarded the Licentiate in Arabic and Islamic Studies.
  • ISLAMIC STUDIES: covers the various disciplines of Islamic sciences: history, Qur’an studies, theology, law, philosophy, Sufism and ethics. The student acquires an overview of Islamic culture and current issues affecting the Muslim world. Admission to these courses (offered in English and Italian) is also open to part-time students. Certificates in Islamic Studies (Levels I and II) are awarded respectively after completion of the courses in Islamic Studies of the Introductory Year and the First Year.
  • MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS: includes the following courses: History of Muslim-Christian Dialogue (Introductory Year), Bible and Qur’an, Christians and Muslims: theologies in contrast (First Year) and Arab-Christian Apologetics (Second Year, offered in Arabic). Admission is open to part-time students.
  • DOCTORATE: requires a minimum of 3 years to complete. Those who can be admitted to the Doctorate programme are students who have obtained the Licentiate degree at PISAI, with the distinction of Summa cum Laude, or those
    possessing an equivalent degree, provided that they have the approval of the Institute for their research project.

Teaching Staff

The current teaching staff is composed of some 25 professors among whom are permanent, associate and invited members. In line with PISAI’s specificity, some have Arabic as their mothertongue and some are Muslims. All are highly
specialized either in Classical Arabic or in the various fields of Islamic sciences.


These are lay-persons and religious, coming from all corners of the world, driven by a common desire to know Islam and its main sources through the study of Arabic. The spirit of intercultural exchange and the common purpose pursued by all create within PISAI a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

PROFILE of a student candidate for PISAI (please download from this link)


  • LECTURES: held monthly from January to May, with free admission, given by professors and notable figures in the Christian and the Muslim world. Members of the public are invited to participate actively in the concluding debate.
  • CONVENTIONS: of cultural and interreligious interest on a specific theme.
  • ACADEMIC YEAR: characterized by a series of deep and meaningful exchanges between the different members of the PISAI community, the academic year offers, in addition to the normal lectures, study-days, special seminars and cultur-al and festive occasions.


The four PISAI publications are centred upon Muslim-Christian Dialogue and knowledge of Arab-Muslim culture:

  • ISLAMOCHRISTIANA, first published in 1975, is dedicated to Muslim-Christian Dialogue: articles in Arabic and in various Western languages.
  • ENCOUNTER, first published in 1974, on the theme of dialogue, in English.
  • ETUDES ARABES, first published in 1962, centres upon topics of interest in Arab-Muslim culture (Arabic texts with translation).
  • STUDI ARABO-ISLAMICI DEL PISAI, a collection which offers titles on orientalist research themes.

For further information, visit: www.pisai.it/pubblicazioni/riviste


The library, highly specialized, is the very heart of PISAI. Housing some 38,000 books, 900 publica-tions, certain of which are old and highly prized, 60 manuscripts, 250 rare editions, some 300 Licentiate and Doctoral theses. It also contains some special collections, gifts to the Institute from scholars and researchers.

The reading room provides users with a consid-erable number of aids to research: dictionaries, encyclopaedias, publications, recent acquisitions, Wi-Fi connection to the Internet.

The personnel, qualified and skilled at their work, offer users help and advice. A photocopying and dispatching service is available.

The catalogue can be consulted online at


Opening times:

Monday-Thursday from 8.30 to 17.00 and Friday from 8.30 to 13.00

Viale di Trastevere 89-00153 Roma
Such.: + 39 06 58 39 26 11 – Fax: + 39 06 58 82 595
Info@pisai.it – www.pisai.it