Fall 2011 REL 276 Sunni & Shi’ite Islam

This course is an overview of the doctrines, thought, spirituality and history of Shi’ite Islam and complements RELI 272 (Introduction to Islam) that presented Islam from the mainstream Sunni point of view. Although primarily an introduction to Shi’ite Islam, throughout the semester we will touch upon the commonalities and differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam. Beginning with the origins of the Sunni-Shi’ite split in history our study will discuss Shi’ite theology, view of history and political and religious history, legal tradition, popular piety and spirituality. We will also examine major themes within the Sunni-Shi’ite polemical literature, and close with reflections on recent political developments and ecumenical efforts from both sides.