Fall 2014 REL 376 Islamic Ethics

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 three parts to the course. PART I surveys the various modes of ethical thinking and lived practice within the Islamic religious and intellectual tradition. Here, we will explore the Qur’anic ethical viewpoint, ethical life built on the imitation of the Prophet’s example, and religious, theological, philosophical, and mystical strands of ethical life and thought. PART II (Seminal Classical Texts of Islamic Ethics) & III (Contemporary Muslim Ethical Texts) then focuses on a close reading and discussion of some of the seminal classical and contemporary Muslim texts of ethical bent. The survey of ethical modes (PART I) and close study of selected texts (PART II & III) will be our basis for wider claims about Islamic ethical life in PART IV where we will seek to build synthesis and draw wider conclusions. The synthesis will be possible through numerous interrelated activities 1) short but rigorous interpretive reflections 2) a longer paper geared towards synthesis of our study; and 3) a final group project wherein in addition to carrying out original research, the insights from our study throughout the semester will be brought to bear upon a pressing ethical concern, on a topic of students’ own choice. Here, we will also explore how the various ethical modes have fared or have been transformed in contemporary times. PART I is primarily interactive lecturing; PART II-IV, since these involve close reading of seminal Muslim texts, will mostly be discussion-based thus requiring active participation of every student.