Vocabularies of Islam


Course Description

This course provides students with an introduction to the foundational concepts of Islam, its religious institutions, and the diverse ways in which Muslims understand and practice their religion. We explore the vocabularies surrounding core issues of scripture, prophethood, law, ritual, theology, mysticism, literature, and art from the early period until the present. Attention is given to the diversity of Islam as a civilizational complex in a variety of temporal and spatial settings.


Course Design

The substance of the course centers on lectures and discussions of primary source material in translation, and draws on relevant audio/visual sources to highlight key concepts and issues. The overall progression will be chronological, from the origins of Islam, through the development of “classical” institutions, and into the present day. Students will achieve an understanding of the diverse expressions of Islam as a religious tradition, both historically and culturally. In addition, students will acquire a broader understanding of problems related to the study of religion while developing analytical skills applicable to other fields of inquiry.


2007 Syllabus