Religious Studies | Knowing the Will of God in Islam
R300 | 4146 | Jaques
“How do we know what God wants us to do?” This is one of the most
basic questions asked in many religious traditions. In Islam,
understanding the Will of God, and how to act on that knowledge,
has, and continues to be, one of the fundamental areas of debate.
Since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (d. 632), Islamic scholars
have sought to derive ways of interpreting God’s Will. This course
will look at those debates and how these modes of interpretation
continue to be discussed by Muslims today. The course will be
divided into three sections: theology (kalam), law (fiqh), and
contemporary modes of interpretation used by Modernists and
revivalists (so-called fundamentalists). Students will read primary
texts (in translation) from classical, medieval, and contemporary
thinkers from the Middle East, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and
This will be a discussion based class. Students will be required to
discuss readings and debate, from the points of view of the authors,
such issues as: what is revelation, is God inherently Just, do
humans have free will, what is the Shari’ah, can humans use reason
or must we depend solely on revelation to know how to live, can
Muslims do things not found in the texts of revelation, and is
living in a non-Muslim society un-Islamic?
Required Texts: Richard Martin ed., Defenders of Reason in Islam;
Sayyid Qutb, Milestones; Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity; Syed
Abul ‘Ala Mawdudi, The Islamic Movement; and a course packet.
Course Requirements: Attendance is required. This will be a
discussion based course; therefore, active student participation is
a must. There will be one final paper and a number of short response
papers to the readings. There will also be a role playing assignment
were the student will research and participate in a debate from the
point of view of a particular person involved in the issues
discussed in the course. The final paper will be written in
conjunction with this debate.