In addition getting involved in Muslim Life and learning about Islam outside the classroom, students can take classes about Islam and Muslim culture around the world through the departments of Religious Studies, International Studies, History, and Language and Culture Studies.

Below are a list of courses in which students can learn more about religious practice, Muslim culture, and languages.

Religious Studies

RELG 181
Understanding Islam
This survey course explores the diversity of Muslim experiential and intellectual approaches to the key sacred sources of the religion, the Qur’an, and the figure of the Prophet. The course addresses pre-Islamic Arabia and the rise of Islam; Muhammad and the Qur’an; prophetic traditions and jurisprudence; theology and mysticism; art and poetry; basic beliefs and practices of the Muslim community; responses to colonialism and modernity; and Islam in the United States.

RELG 205 / ANTH 205
Religions of Africa
This course is an exploration of the ways in which Africans make sense of their worlds through religion. By reading a wide range of ethnographic and historical texts, students will consider the challenges that post-colonial politics present to understanding religion in Africa and in the diaspora Students will examine a variety of African religious traditions ranging from indigenous practices to the ways in which Christianity and Islam have developed uniquely African beliefs. In so doing, students will frame African religions as global phenomena while considering the historical and contemporary salience of the many canonical themes found in African religion such as spirit possession, divination, healing, magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and animal sacrifice.

RELG 209
Religions in the Contemporary Middle East
The impact of religion in contemporary Middle Eastern culture will be examined through the study of Middle Eastern monotheisms: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. The course will focus on specific national settings where religion has played a decisive role: Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, and Israel. Internal divisions and tensions will be explored, as well as interreligious conflicts. (May be counted toward and International Studies and Middle Eastern Studies.)

RELG 248
Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Religion
Why do particular embodiments render some people “other” within their religion? How are women represented in religious texts and images? How does gender determine what counts for religiously-sanctioned behavior? This course provides an overview of topics where issues of gender and sexuality intersect with particular religious traditions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American traditions). Topics include: purity and power, celibacy and virginity, marriage and reproduction, veiling and eating practices, violence and sacrifice, as well as the issue of religious leadership and ordination. This course may count towards the Women, Gender and Sexuality major.

RELG 280 / LACS 280
Muhammad and the Qur’an
What is the Qur’an? Which role did Muhammad play for the development of Islam’s sacred text? This course introduces the historical and social context, thematic and literary features, and major doctrines of the Qur’an. We will focus on the history of the text through a close reading of English translations of the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and explore methods of interpretation through various exegetical texts. Topics will also include the relation to pre-Islamic biblical figures and other faith traditions, questions of Islamic law and ethics including sexuality, gender roles, notions of justice, peace, and war, the use of violence, and the role of the Qur’an as a living text in Muslim devotional life.

RELG 282 / INST 282
Modern Islamist Movements – Religion, Ideology, and the Rise of Fundamentalism
The course examines the rise and ideological foundation of modern Islamist movements. We will study the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism in its historical and political context by looking at major intellectual figures and their notions of jihad as well as national, transnational, and global groups that have emerged over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries.

RELG 284
The Mystic Path of Islam
For over a thousand years, Sufism has been a dynamic expression of the inner quest for God-consciousness in Islam. Sufis have often expressed their devotion in literary form: from poetry and ecstatic utterances to metaphysical theoretical prose works. This class explores the emergence of Sufism from the Qur’an and the life and words or the Prophet Muhammad, and traces its historical development from the formative period to the age of trans-national Sufi orders. The course will study key constructs of this tradition: the relationship between God and humankind, the stages of the spiritual path, contemplative disciplines, the idea of sainthood, ethical perfection, the psychology of love, the idea of the feminine, and Sufi aesthetics. It also considers the modern expression (and transformation) of Sufism in the United States.

RELG 286
Islam in America
Islam has become the fastest growing and most ethnically diverse religious group in the United States. This course is divided into two parts: the first provides an historical survey of Islam in America, from its discovery to the present; the second part examines contemporary issues of Muslim American communities and their interactions with American society at large. Topics include religious movements among African-American and immigrant groups, educational, cultural and youth initiatives, Sufism, civil rights groups, progressive Muslims, women’s and feminist movements, and Islam in popular culture and in the media.

RELG 318
Islamophobia / The Fear of Islam
This survey course explores the historical roots and contemporary forms of Western anxieties toward Muslims and Islam by critically engaging the following questions: What are the theological, historical, political, and cultural forces that have given rise to perceptions of Islam as inherently violent, intolerant, misogynist, and backwards? How does Islamophobia differ from legitimate disagreements with specific Islamic beliefs and practices? How has the fear of Islam translated into concrete acts of exclusion, discrimination, and psychological and physical harm? What do negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam reveal about Western assumptions concerning religion and the religious ‘Other’?

International Studies

INTS 131
Modern Iran
This course provides an introduction to 20th-century Iranian society, culture, and politics, examining secular and religious debates over gender roles, modernity, Islamism, democracy, and the West.

INTS 219
Islam in the Caribbean and Latin America
From reverts to ISIS, the Caribbean/Latin America is a microcosm of Islam in the world This course provides an introduction to Islam, Muslim social and political life, and gender/minority rights from the vantage point of the Muslim-minority societies in this region.

INTS 227
Ukraine and Belarus in Historical Perspective
This course is designed to equip students with a detailed understanding of the critical historical events that have influenced modern Ukraine and Belarus. In the late medieval and early modern periods (fifteenth-seventeenth centuries), this region (Western Rus’) underwent a series of important political, social, and cultural transformations that led to the formation of new ethnic entities and later nation-states (Ukraine and Belarus). Late medieval and early modern Ukraine and Belarus will be placed in a wider international context that linked them to Orthodox Europe and the Occident, as well as to the world of Islam. Understanding the history of these dynamic societies will help make some sense of the contemporary relations between Ukraine and Russia.

INTS 258
The Islamic City: Places, Pasts and Problems
This course explores the great variety of cities founded, claimed, and inhabited by Muslims from the beginnings of Islam to the present day. While there is no such thing as a prototypical “Islamic city,” this course grapples with questions of change and continuity in the organization of urban life among Muslims globally. Through a combination of lectures and discussions, we will situate cities in their historical contexts, examine their built environments, and consider the ways in which exchange, mobility, empire, revolution, and globalization have shaped urban space.

INTS 348
Islamic Feminism in Global Perspective
This course surveys Muslim women’s activism and theoretical contributions to feminist debates on gender and sexuality, across cultures from Asia, to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, using ethnography, documentary, auto/biography, and other feminist methodologies and forms of self-expression. Particular attention will be given to gender activism organized within what participants consider to be an Islamic framework.

Language and Culture Studies

LACS 235
Islam & the French Colonial Encounter
This course focuses on French colonization in Muslim-majority the North and West African regions. Situating the French example within a broader narrative about the economic and political strategies inherent in the colonial project, we will pay particular attention to the issue of religion in the relationship between colonizer and colonized. This course will examine the nature of the French “civilizing mission” in Africa, and the Muslim-African response to the French presence, as Islam and its “symbols” played a major role in anti-colonial movements throughout the two regions. Among others, we will read works by authors Assia Djebar, Camara Laye, Gustave Flaubert and Fatima Mernissi. The course is taught in English, but students who have taken FREN 241 or a higher-level course can complete assignments in French.

History

HIST 228
Islamic Civilization to 1517
This course surveys the transformation of the Middle East into an Islamic civilization from the life of Muhammad in the early seventh century through the collapse of the Mamluk Empire in 1517. It focuses on social, cultural, and political history and addresses regional variations from Morocco to Iran. Topics include women, religious minorities, and slavery, as well as Islamic education, mysticism, and literature

HIST 259
The Islamic City: Places, Pasts and Problems
This course explores the great variety of cities founded, claimed, and inhabited by Muslims from the beginnings of Islam to the present day. While there is no such thing as a prototypical “Islamic city,” this course grapples with questions of change and continuity in the organization of urban life among Muslims globally. Through a combination of lectures and discussions, we will situate cities in their historical contexts, examine their built environments, and consider the ways in which exchange, mobility, empire, revolution, and globalization have shaped urban space.