SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Political Islam

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

This module integrates perspectives from our department’s three fields–history, religions, and philosophies–and beyond, for an interdisciplinary critical look at questions on ‘Political Islam.’ Grounded in historical chronology, and balancing geographical specificity with a transregional view, it begins by problematizing the categories of ‘religion’ and ‘politics’. At the same time it shows how these, and other, conceptual categories emerged across various sociopolitical settings from the early modern period to now. The module has two parts:

(1) Empire and Epistemes (2) Nation-States & Neoliberalism, Social Movements & Selfhood
These are organized around changing dominant orderings of the world system, but we will place equal emphasis on describing continuity as well as rupture in our settings, and we trace histories that cut against and across imperial ones, just as much as empire influenced those histories.
Methodologically, we address historiography; political economy; critical theory; anthropology and sociology of Islam; precolonial and modern philosophy and metaphysics; critical gender studies; and anticolonial, decolonial, and border thinking. We will use these sometimes contradictory ways of thinking to explore the sociopolitical and conceptual histories of things like reformism, modernism and positivism, secularism, Salafism, state-centric Islamism, jihad, liberation theologies, women’s movements, and post-Islamism. Especially towards the end, we will ask how these operate on society-wide scales, but also within everyday life and individual subjective worlds.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Compare the variety of Muslim engagement with colonialism and its aftermath since the 18th century in Asia and the Middle East
  • Distinguish the core political debates and ideologies in the studied Muslim movement
  • Appraise the complex relationship between religion and politics in discissions of political Islam
  • Compose well evidenced arguments about the main contextual and ideological factors shaping Muslim political engagement


  • Total of 10 weeks teaching with a 1 hour lecture per week a 1 hour seminar per week.

Method of assessment

  • A book review of 500 words (20%)
  • A literature review of 1500 words (30%)
  • An essay of 2500 words (50%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules