Religious Studies | Introduction to Islam
R257 | 3971 | Jaques


Once when asked, "What is Islam?" an eminent scholar gave a response
that could have been given had the question been asked of any
religion.  His response was simply: "Islam is a way of being human."
In more specific terms, what this scholar meant was that Islam - like
other religions - is both a way of making sense out of life and a way
of living according to this "sense";  is a way of creating and living
in a world of meaning. The aim of this course is to introduce
students to some of the salient features of the Islamic "world of
meaning."  We will begin with a brief discussion of what we try to do
when we study religion in the academy and the practical value of this
study for the thinking person.  From there we will go on to look at
the Arabian Milieu before Muhammad's prophetic call.  The course will
then continue to sketch some of the major developments in Muslim
thought and practice as it evolves over the subsequent fourteen
centuries of the Islamic era.  Topics of focus will include the
career of the prophet and his function in Muslim piety; Qur'an and
hadith; Islam ritual and the "pillars" of Muslim Praxis; Islamic
legal and theological traditions; the Sunna/Shi'i division within the
Muslim community; and mysticism and devotional piety.  We will
conclude with an examination of the origins and nature of modern
Muslim reform and revivalist movements.  Texts: A. J. Arberry, The
Koran Interpreted; Frederick Denny, An Introduction to Islam; R257
Reader.  Requirements: Regular quizzes, attendance, and participation
in class discussions; two mid-terms; and a final exam.