Islam course: Spring 2019

Tuesday/Thursday, 9.25 a.m.

POLT 33300: Understanding Islam

Learning about Islam poses a challenge for undergraduate students who have "known" it for almost half of their lives only through the lenses of “Islamic terrorism” and U.S. involvement in various wars in Muslim countries. Given this fact, part of the course will focus on the nature of the West’s encounters with Muslims at different points in history. In this context, since the most persistent Western depictions of Islam associate it with jihad/ holy war, terrorism and the oppression of women, we will deal with all these topics from two different perspectives: those of Islam’s scripture, the Qur’an, and those of the West, broadly speaking. Part of the course, however, focuses on Islam "itself," specifically, its theology, traditions of mysticism, and its scripture's teachings about patriarchy, equality, and sex/gender.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: This is a discussion based class and students will be required to share their own perspectives on the texts we will be reading. These include, Asma Barlas, Believing Women in Islam (University of Texas, revised, second edition, 2019); Khalid Abou El Fadl, The Place of Tolerance in Islam (Beacon, 2002); Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim (Three Leaves, 2005); Coleman Bark's book on Jalal-al-din Rumi, Rumi: The Book of Love (Harper Collins, 2005), and Ziauddin Sardar, Introducing Islam (Totem, 2005).

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Regular attendance, participation in class, journals and mid-term & final papers.

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