Syllabi: Fall 2013 »  Fall 2014 Course Descriptions Over Time 2013:                                                          … Read More

Syllabus: Spring 2017 Our conversation this term will explore historical origins and major events/figures, intellectual currents, cultural practices, selected themes such as representations of Muslims in media, politics and law, and challenges facing Muslim communities in the U.S. Ultimately, the… Read More

Syllabus: Spring 2015 Required of all religion majors, this course is an introduction to the academic study of Religion. Our study will involve critical examination of various methods, disciplines, and theories employed in the academic study of religion, focusing… Read More

Syllabus: Spring 2017

Islamic City

Syllabus: Spring 2017Fall 2018

There are various ways of studying a culture, civilization or a religious tradition. One can choose the window of history (thus studying its historical origins and evolution), read the various texts its inhabitants has produced, listen to the stories that were deemed important by its inhabitants, listen (or/and speak) to the inhabitants OR approach them “spatially”, i.e., by paying close attention to the spaces that they created. It is the latter that we do in our explorations this term. Our explorations this term are “imagined” to discover and share a bird’s eye view of premodern Muslim Spaces. It seeks to understand Islamic societies and its inhabitants “the Muslims” by painting a picture/image of a typical “Islamic City” with its religious, cultural, social, political, and economic life. With the enablers (Mr. James Sponsel and Caitlin Christian-Lamb from the Library, and Mr. Brian Little from ITS) assisting you in your explorations, you will ‘choose’, ‘discover’, ‘imagine’ and ‘present’ An Islamic City and the lived experience of it.

Islam in the Modern Age

Syllabi: Spring 2014 » Spring 2017

What is it about?

Popular discourse often characterizes ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’ as two mutually exclusive points of view. Such attitudes are frequented exhibited in questions such as: “Is Islam compatible with democracy?” or “Does Islam give equal rights to women?” In light of such questions, this course aims to engender a nuanced appreciation of the various meanings of the terms ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’. The basic argument of this course is as follows: In order to understand the place of Muslim actors in the contemporary world it is better to conceive of ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’ as historical projects that are still in the process of being executed. Rather than assume that ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’ have fixed meanings, we will discover how these terms have come to represent varying (often vying!) political, social, cultural and spiritual aspirations at different moments in history. Most importantly, we will learn that even when viewed in isolation from one another, the respective visions of ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’ are varied and often suffer through deep internal tensions and conflicts.

We will begin with an examination of the phenomenon of ‘Modernity’, its origins in the Western Europe, its various interpretations and significance. We will then turn to a basic introduction to the Islamic tradition1 and its pre-modern intellectual, political and social landscapes. With this historical and intellectual understanding of ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’, we will examine how ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’ that had unfolded in different geographical spaces came to intersect during the Colonial age, both conceptually and within the lived experience of Muslims. The rest of the course will examine the intellectual, religious, sociopolitical and cultural transformations in the Islamic world due to this intersection and the response of Muslim thinkers and societies to the Modern ideals. We will conclude with the rise of postmodernity and globalization and the future of ‘Islam’ and ‘Modernity’.

Please note that this is not a course on Islam but on ‘Islam’s relationship to modernity’. Therefore, a nuanced appreciation of the meaning, values and phenomenon of Modernity in its various aspects is integral and crucial to the understanding of the subject matter.

Nostalgic Islam

Syllabus: Fall 2018

What can we learn about Islam and Muslims by observing closely significant contents of collective Muslim memory and heritage? What shared memories are “deeply present” and have persisted and endured across space (various Muslim populations on the globe) and time (i.e., history), and why? What have Muslims persistently remembered and commemorated? What do they consider critical to their religious heritage and worth preserving and transmitting to next generations, and why? What eras, places and worlds Muslims long for, and why? Our probing of these questions will force us to taking stock of the annals of Muslim memory and heritage, and in turn offers us a panoramic view of the “Islamic Tradition”. (“Tradition” itself is a critical term in our study.) We will also observe those vestiges that are honored as heritage, are felt lost, are mourned, and for whom Muslims long (i.e., nostalgia). While mostly about the contents of Muslim memory and heritage, our journey inevitably involves humanistic inquiry into Muslim view of ‘memory’, ‘history’, ‘heritage’ and ‘nostalgia’.


Syllabi: Spring 2011 » Fall 2014 » Fall 2018 This course is an overview of Islamic ethical life and thought through 1) a survey of various modes of Islamic ethical thinking and 2) a close reading of seminal Muslim ethical texts. There are… Read More