World Religions

Theology 177

This course will offer an introduction to the major World Religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism and Islam. Students will learn about the existential perspectives and ethical teachings of these traditions. Selections from their most important scriptures will be read during the semester while ritual practices and contemporary issues will be studied through films, and other media, including religion on the Worldwide Web.

The South Asian Muslim Experience

Theology 180

This experimental course will cover both cultural and religious aspects of the South Asian (Indian and Pakistani) Muslim heritage. Topics considered will include major religious movements and thinkers, for example, Ahmad Sirhindi and Shah Wali Allah, and poets such as Ghalib and Iqbal. The course will provide an overview of the history and contribution of Muslims in South Asia and more recently in the South Asian diaspora. In addition to academic writings, literature, music, and film will be used to provide a broader sense of this experience.

Islamic Spirituality

Theology 350

This course will explore various dimensions of Islamic spirituality. After a brief introduction to the basics of the Islamic religion, we will consider spiritual understandings of the Islamic scripture (the Qur’an) and the figure of the Prophet Muhammad as well as the “inner dimensions” of Islamic ritual practices. In addition, we will encounter the whole tradition of Islamic mysticism (tasawwuf or Sufism).

Contemporary Islamic Thought and Movements

This new course offering will consider contemporary Islamic thought and movementsworld-wide. After a brief introduction to Islam and the historical development of the tradition up to the present, we will learn about a range of contemporary intellectual and activist movements through the study of original writings and secondary analysis.

Major figures to be considered include: Abu al-Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, Fazlur Rahman, and other more recent Muslim intellectuals representing movements such as Jama’at-i Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamic liberalism. Some of the theological and social issues that will be discussed are gender, the ideal political order, Islamic law and its role in society, and pluralism.

Possible Texts