ARAB/CMCU 4450: Islam in South Asia
Taught by Jonathan A.C. Brown
Islam is often associated immediately with the Middle East, but Islam’s intellectual and religious landscape over the last two centuries is arguably a product of South Asian scholars and religio-political movements. This course will offer a survey of Islamic thought in South Asia from the medieval period to the modern, from Muslims living as a ruling minority to Muslims negotiating colonial rule and finally minority status.
ARAB 6950/CMCU 5200: Readings in Hadith Studies
Taught by Jonathan A.C. Brown
This course will provide an in-depth exploration, at a gradual level, of important genres of Muslim engagement with the Hadith tradition, Islam’s secondary (though arguably more impactful than anything else) scripture.
CMCU/CCAS 4200: Modern Islamic Political Thought
Taught by Nader Hashemi
This seminar course seeks to provide both an overview of key ideas and themes that have informed mainstream Muslim politics during the 20th century (and early 21st century) as well provide an engagement with influential thinkers and texts that have shaped Muslim political behavior during this period. We will examine the tension between tradition and modernity, the debate on God’s sovereignty versus popular sovereignty and more broadly the debate on the moral bases of legitimate political authority that Muslim thinkers were grappling with during this time period. We will also explore how prominent Muslim intellectuals have sought to engage with and respond to the rise of nationalism, socialism, capitalism, democracy, human rights, colonialism, imperialism and Zionism. The approach that this course will take to the study of political thought is derivative of the Cambridge School of Western political theory, in particular the work of Quentin Skinner. According to this school, classic texts are not monolithic or freestanding but must be understood by focusing on the historical, economic and political context in which they were written. Similarly, unearthing the author’s intentions in the study of political tracts/treatises is critical to the more general understanding of political thought regardless of the civilizational tradition under investigation. While this is an introduction to modern Islamic political thought this is not an introductory course in Islamic theology, Middle East politics, or contemporary Muslim political sociology. Previous knowledge is assumed. Ideally, students will have taken at least one course in modern Middle East history/politics. Students without a background in the modern Middle East/Arab-Islamic world are asked to consult with the instructor before enrolling in this course. Students will be evaluated based on seminar participation/participation, a final term paper and a final interview.
CMCU 3397: Muslim Women & The West
Taught by Shenila Khoja Moolji
Muslim women often appear in Western imagination as oppressed, silent, and victimized. This course offers an alternate account of Muslim women by centering texts and aesthetics produced by them, along with ethnographic studies that give us a glimpse into their lives in the West. We encounter Muslim women through non-normative frames of agency, joy, community-building, and care. We observe the myriad ways in which they construct preferred futures against racist, capitalist, and heteronormative logics. A major thrust of the course is studying the lifeworlds of Shia Muslim women (a minority interpretive community within Islam).
CMCU 4479: Muslims on the Margins
Taught by Shenila Khoja Moolji
Margins are often considered sites of deficit due to their distance from the center. However, following bell hooks, this course reframes the margin as a site of knowledge, possibility, and relationality. We consider a range of Muslim groups who either agentically occupy the margins or have been pushed to the margins by way of exclusion. We ask conceptual questions about the relationship between margins and marginalization, about margins as a site of radical possibility, and about what we can learn from studying the lifeworlds, aesthetics, and thought of Muslims on the margins. The course will center the work of Shia, women, queer, and working-class Muslims.
CMCU 5100: Islam and Politics
Taught by Khlil al-Anani
The intertwining of Islam and politics has been a subject of great intrigue and debate for decades. Fundamental questions arise: What does Islam say about the realm of politics? Does an Islamic political theory exist? Is there a distinct Islamic approach to the concept of a state? Does Islam, as some contend, possess inherent political thrust? How did Muslim scholars perceive the realm of politics, and how do contemporary Muslims engage with and interpret politics today? These are just few questions that have raised spirited debates, especially in light of the emergence of various Islamist factions and movements. This course provides a comprehensive exploration of the intricate relationship between Islam and politics.It encompasses the ideas of medieval scholars like Al-Mawardi (974–1058) and Al-Juwayni, as well as those of modern-day thinkers such as Muhammed Abduh (1849-1905), Rashid Reda (1865-1935), Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), Hasan al- Turabi (1932-2016), Yusuf al-Qaradawi (1926-2022), and Rachid Ghannouchi (1941- ). Furthermore, the course comprehensively covers major Islamist movements, including but not limited to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafism, and Salafi Jihadism, among others. Through rigorous critical analysis and a nuanced understanding of historical context, students will delve into the ideologies, strategies, and profound impact of these movements on the ever-evolving sociopolitical landscape of the region.
CMCU 5220: Introduction to Sufism
Taught by Daanish Faruqi
This course will offer a social and intellectual history of Sufism in all its major aspects. We will begin with a survey of Sufism’s formative period from the 9th to 12th centuries CE, examining the emergence of key Sufi doctrines and practices as well as the formation of the first Sufi communities around accomplished masters. We will then trace the rise to social prominence of the Sufi mode of piety during and after the 12th century in the form of Sufi orders as well as the reaction of nonconformist Sufis to such increasing social success. Along the way, we will also consider such related issues as conversion to Islam, Islamization of originally non-Islamic beliefs and practices, and the relationship between popular religiosity and Sufism. We will also go into multiple geographical contexts, from the medieval Maghrib to South Asia, Time permitting, we will end with readings on contemporary Sufism, politics, and society.