The Muslim World: Unity in Diversity
- Course Code:
- Unit value:
- Year of study:
- Year 2
- Taught in:
- Full Year
Successful completion of Introduction to Islam (or a similar level of knowledge).
This course is available as a Year 1 course to students of BA Islamic Studies.
Objectives and learning outcomes of the course
At the end of the course the student should be familiar with the spread of Islam and the Muslim Umma as a whole, taking into consideration its cultural, social, ethnic and historical diversity. Similarly, the student will be familiar with the salient features of Islamic culture and practice and their unifying factors that cause the Muslim individuals and communities to feel part of the Muslim world at large. In addition, the student will become acquainted with the Arabic/Islamic terminology that plays a significant role in the sense of unity in diversity.
WorkloadA total of 22 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.
Scope and syllabus
This course surveys the historical and geographical spread of Islam in the Prophetic and post-Prophetic era until the modern period and from the Arabian peninsula to the rest of the world. It includes a chronological outline of the main dynasties that ruled the Muslim lands through the institution of the Caliphate, such as the Umayyads, 'Abbasids, Safavids, Moghuls and Ottomans. The course will also attempt to demonstrate that despite the various ethnic, cultural and geographical diversities of the Muslim community there are fundamental unifying factors that did not depend upon temporal political power but, rather, on the basic sense of "Umma" and social and cultural institutions and customs that stem from religious beliefs and practices, to the extent that Muslims continue to consider themselves as a singular community. As such, the course focuses on the manifestation of the Arabic language at a social level through such practices as:
- the recitation of the Qur'an;
- the unifying aspects of principal rituals such as prayer and fasting;
- institutions within the Islamic tradition such as the Islamic law (shari'a), Sufi orders, endowments (waqf) and educational establishments (madrasa);
- cultural phenomena such as social manners and etiquettes, as well as the celebration of a variety of festivals.
In addition, the course aims to provide a glossary of Islamic cultural terms to enhance the understanding of this unity in diversity.
Method of assessmentOne three-hour written examination (75%) taken in May/June and two essays of 2,500-3,000 words each (weighted at 12.5% each), to be submitted on day 5, last teaching week of term 1, and day 5 last teaching week of term 2.
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