Fall 2019 REL 177 What is a Good Life?

This course is an overview of Islamic ethical life and thought through an orientation in the Islamic view of the universe, humanity’s place within it, and various proposals this religious tradition offers for a good human life. Fundamentally and consistently throughout the semester we will explore these themes through a close reading of seminal Muslim texts. There are three stages in our journey. In STAGE I we will document and probe our contemporary notions of what is a good human life. In STAGE II (the main section of the course) then we will look at various proposals that have emerged from within Islamic religious tradition that speak to this question, directly or in important indirect ways. In the process we will survey the various modes of ethical thinking and proposals for good life within the Islamic religious and intellectual tradition, i.e., legal, religious, theological, literary, mystical and philosophical strands of Islamic ethical life and thought. STAGE III will be a synthesis and culmination of various ideas discussed in STAGES I & II but also a move toward comparing Islamic proposals with other proposals and implications and applications of these ideas.