NEAR E 211
Introduction to important cultural and historical aspects of Islam, focusing on basic concepts and developments such as prophethood, Quran and Hadith, canon and law, ritual, social theory, Sufism, theology, and sectarianism. Special attention to comparison of varied Muslim practices and beliefs, and their relation to textual and personal authority. Offered: jointly with JSIS C 211.
The importance of Islam in the politico-religious life of the 21st century can scarcely be overestimated. Yet for many, knowledge of the roots, practices and tenets of this nearly 1,400-year-old religion are shrouded in mystery. This course provides an introduction to the origins and history of Islam, including the genesis and development of its sacred scripture and monumental institutions of law, theology, and Sufism. It will cover challenges posed by sectarianism, modernity and encounters with the West, as well as contemporary Muslim practice and the status of women in Islamic societies. Students will gain an appreciation for the rich diversity of thought and practice characterizing Islam as well as the shared rituals and history uniting its approximately 1.4 billion adherents.
Student learning goals
Explain the central positions of the Qur’ān and prophecy in Islam.
Identify the major tenets and practices associated with Sunnism and Shi‘ism.
Describe the approaches of law, mysticism, theology, and philosophy to such issues as the nature of God, the role of the Prophet, the status of the Qur’ān, and leadership, and analyze how these differing ideologies helped give rise to the diversity of contemporary Muslim practice and belief.
Define the basic tools, resources, and critical questions associated with the study of Islam.
General method of instruction
Lecture, small group activities and TA sections.
No prerequisites or background is necessary other than an open mind.
Class assignments and grading
Grades will be based on a midterm and a final consisting of multiple choice, short answer, matching, and true and false (50% of grade); participation in TA sections (25%); and homeworks consisting of short response papers (25%).