REL 178: Introduction to Islam Fall 2020

This course is a general introduction to Islamic faith, practices, history and culture. Our method of study will make reference to both the normative textual sources of Islam and the lived experience of the Muslim community through centuries. After a brief overview of the approaches to the study of Islam as they have emerged over centuries in the West (and our own method of study this semester), we will explore Islam as a religion, discussing its core beliefs, most important rites, religious texts and survey of various religious and intellectual disciplines such as law (Shari‘ah), theology (Kalam) philosophy (Falsafah) and mysticism (Tasawwuf). Our study will also encompass Islamic culture and its various artistic and aesthetic expressions as developed over centuries. The course will close with discussion of early Islamic history and Islamic sects (such as the Shi‘ites) and a brief overview of the present state of the Islamic world and its relationship with the West in modern times.