Spring 2006: Tuesday
Office Hours: Monday
9:00-11:00am or by appointment
email: click here
Note the title of this course:
“Introduction to Islamic Studies.” Let me break that down for you.
“Introduction” means that I assume you
have no prior knowledge of Islam. It also means that you will be
introduced to many new ideas, concepts, language, and culture, often in
a very fleeting sort of way. Do not allow this to frustrate you, but
rather use it as an opportunity to take many small samples from a
smorgasbord and, having done this, know that you can always go back for
second helpings—you will now have the tools and resources to follow
Studies” means everything pertaining to Islam—not only its religion and
theology, but also its history, language, society, thought, art,
architecture, and place on the canvas of world history, both ancient
While there are no pre-requisites
for this course, there are requirements concerning mind-set. I expect
we will have students from a broad range of backgrounds—religious,
geographical, ethnic. In a course such as this, it is easy to bring
one’s baggage along—some of it may be old and trustworthy, some of it
may be more recently acquired, some of it may have proved useful up
till now. I urge you, however, to leave your bags at the door (as they
say) and to come in prepared to learn new things and to hear others’
stories. You may be surprised!
By the end of this course you
will have shattered some preconceptions, you will have opened a window
onto a worldview different from your own (whether you look from the
outside in, or the inside out), and you will have broadened your
outlook in ways that may be eye-opening to you.
I am available during office hours
or by appointment—please don’t wait until you have a big problem. Drop
by to tell me about you and what your particular interests are in this
A short, one- to two-page response to your readings
will be required each week. The questions will be posted on this
syllabus a week in advance. The main purpose of the responses is to
engage you in the readings that you will have done, and to prepare you
to participate in informed discussion in the classroom. Grades will be
either “A” (acceptable) or “U” (unacceptable).
Readings listed each week are to be done before
class, in order that you may write your response and actively
participate in the discussion.
Geographical quiz: It is
impossible, in a course of this nature, to fully grasp all the
implications without at least a rudimentary picture of the lay of the
land. To this end, there will be a 20-minute quiz at the beginning of
the class in the third week.
Midterm: This will be 50 minutes long and
will be made up of multiple choice and short identification questions.
A study guide will be provided to you to help you prepare for the exam.
Final: This will be a
comprehensive exam—that is to say, it will require synthesis of your
work for the entire semester. The exam will consist of some short
identifications, and three essays. Again, a study guide will be
furnished to you, including a list of possible essay questions.
- 15% Response papers
- 20% Class participation (attendance and discussion)
- 10% Geographical quiz
- 20% Midterm exam
- 35% Final Exam
(FD) Frederick Mathewson DennyAn Introduction to Islam, 2nd
ed. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1994.
(MH) Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and
History in a World Civilization, Volume 1. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1972.
(CE) Carl W. Ernst, Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the
Contemporary World. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2003.
(MS) Michael Anthony Sells, Approaching the Qur'an: The Early
Revelations (with audio CD). Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 1999.
Nawal El-Saadawi, Love in the Kingdom of Oil, trans. Malcolm
Williams. London: Saqi, 2001.
Various articles and excerpts will be found on reserve in the library
or through links given in this syllabus.
This is a "live" syllabus, in that readings and other useful
information will be added as we go along. Be sure to check in to this
site on a regular basis.
Selection of Web Resources
Barbara von Schlegell (University of Pennsylvania)
Comprehensive and well organized page.
Resources for Study of
Alan Godlas (University of Georgia)
Resources for Studying Islam and the Diverse Perspectives of Muslims
Not quite as pretty as von Schlegell's site, but equally comprehensive.
It was nominated for the 6th annual Webby
More Resources on
Carl Ernst (University of North Carolina)
Fordham University, New York. History and modern issues too. Contains
links to articles as well as translations of primary sources.
Islamic Calendar Conversion
Hijri - Gregorian and vice versa
Three translations of the Qur'an, along with some other very good
resources, including the database
USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. Excellent search tool for the
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. It is given merely to give you
a head start as you begin to delve into the subject.
Lecture: Introduction to Islamic Studies
- Based on several short readings to be handed out in class
- Start reading Love in the
Kingdom of Oil. (Finish by week 7)
Lecture: Geography, Language, Terms, Pre-Islamic
- (FD) Pre-Islamic
Arabia: Beliefs, Values, Way of Life, 43-56
- (MH) Volume 1, 3-22
- (CE) Chapters 1 and 2:
This is based on the two maps of Asia and Africa/Middle East that I
The quiz will be in the form of a blank world map and a list of
locations that you must fill in.
Muhammed: Life and Times
- (FD) Muhammad and the Early Muslim Community, 59-82
- (CE) "The Seal of the Prophets: The Prophet Muhammad," 73-92
- Frank Peters, “The Quest of the Historical Muhammad,”
International Journal of Middle East Studies 23(1991): 291-315
of Muhammad" from BBC site on World Religions
(Lighter reading assigments this week, in view of the time needed to
prepare for the quiz.)
Early Islamic Rule
- (FD) The Arab Conquests
and Islamic Rule, 83-104
- (MH) Volume 1: "The
Early Muslim State" 187-230
- Patricia Crone and
Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making
of the Islamic World (extracts)
Religion of Islam
- (FD) The Basic Beliefs and Worship Practices of Islam,
- (FD) Muslim Creeds and Theologies, 172-194
- (FD) The Sufi Way of Mysticism and Fellowship, 219-266
- (CE) Chapter 5 "Spirituality in Practice" 163-197
Qur'an and the Hadith
- (FD) The Nature
and Function of the Qur'an, 138-157
- (FD) The Prophet's Sunna
as Preserved in the Hadith, 158-171
- (CE) "The Word of God:
The Qur'an," 93-105
- (MS) "Introduction,"
"Glossary," some of "The Early Suras," 1-61
Islam and the Status of Women
- (FD) "Islam and the Status of Women" 351-55
- Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender
in Islam, "Women and the Rise of Islam," 41-63
- Ghazala Anwar, "Feminism" in Encyclopedia
of Islam and the Muslim World, 256-258
El-Saadawi, Love in the
Kingdom of Oil (finish reading this week)
Some Contemporary Issues (I)
- (FD) "Fundamentalism," 345-350
- Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam Under
Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World, 23-45
Law and the State
- (FD) Law and the State in Classical Islamic Formulations, 195-215
- J. Schacht, "Law and
Justice," from the Cambridge
Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. II, pt VIII/ch. 4, 539ff
Islam in Practice
- (FD) Patterns of Islamic Personal and Communal Life, 269-317
- Resa Aslan, "Aunt
Kobra's Islamic Democracy", Boston
Globe April 17, 2005.
- Tayeb Salih, The Wedding of
Zein, translated by Denys Johnson-Davies (London: Heinemann,
The Three Monotheistic Religions
- (FD) "The Jews" and "Christianity," 16-42
- Interviews and assessments of 3 Muslim scholars in Ataullah
Siddiqui, Chrisian-Muslim Dialogue
in the Twentieth Century,85-122
- "Jews and Judaism" and "Christians and Christianity" in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an.
Lecture: Some Contemporary Issues (II)
- (FD) "Islam and Muslims in North America," 355-366
- Greg Noakes, "Muslims and the American Press," in Muslims on the Americanization Path?361-378