Religious Studies | Topics in Islam: Knowing the will of God in Islam: Revelation, Reason and Tradition
R300 | 3642 | Kevin 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 North America.

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.