How does one understand a major global religion in a highly polarized and fragmented world?
People from diverse religious backgrounds are in closer contact with one another than ever before. Yet, without the intellectual tools needed to engage with and understand religious difference, this closer contact often has resulted in misunderstanding and stereotypes. Using Islam as a case study, this course offers a methodology for analyzing and engaging with religious diversity. The course introduces fundamental concepts of Islam and the role that religious ideas and institutions play in Muslim communities around the world. Its main concern is to develop an understanding of the manner in which diverse notions of religious and political authority have influenced Muslim societies politically, socially and culturally. Through specific case studies of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the course considers the role played by ideologies such as jihad, colonialism, nationalism, secularism, and globalization in shaping the ways in which Muslims interpret and practice their faith today. The course briefly considers the contemporary situation of Muslim minorities in Europe and the United States.