Religion and politics have intertwined in Islam since the founding of the faith in the early Seventh Century. In this course, we will examine the modern phenomenon of political Islam within the historical context of the concept of political rule in Islam. We will begin by charting the course of the emergence of Islamic civilisation and the development of the caliphate and continue with discussions of mediæval political philosophy, separate Sunnī and Shīʿī elaborations of temporal rule, and religion and state in the pre-modern Islamic world. Thereafter, we will trace the Islamist response to modernity through its many forms—including the radical and the pluralistic ones—across the Islamic world, including South and Central Asia, West and East Africa, Palestine, Iran, and Turkey. We will conclude with a thorough look at technology and other tools used by contemporary Islamists, as well as an analysis of the future of political Islam. Throughout the course, we will observe and consider the dissonance between contemporary Islamist activity and classical political philosophy.
This course represents a combination of a lecture and seminar approaches and individual participation in class dialogues is critical. Most classes include a discussion period for conversation about required reading. Each student will have the opportunity to present a brief review of a text, after which he/she will lead a discussion. At the end of this course, it is hoped that students will have not only a better understanding of political/radical Islam, but have developed better research skills, practiced critical thinking and reading, and gained experience collecting and presenting information clearly.
Course grades will be assigned on the basis of several elements:
Each student has the opportunity to submit up to two extra credit response papers to contemporary news articles on political/radical Islam. In order to receive credit, you must read and submit an article from a newspaper (not a web log!), along with your thoughts on the article (one page). Other extra credit opportunities will be announced periodically throughout the semester; students will be allowed a maximum of five total extra credit opportunities during the term. You are also strongly encouraged to follow Middle East news during (and after!) the semester. Some mainstream newspaper sources:
Black, Antony. The History of Islamic political thought: From the Prophet to the present. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011.
Armajani, Jon. Modern Islamist movements: History, religion, and politics. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
Ayoob, Mohammed. The Many faces of political Islam: Religion and politics in the Muslim world. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007.
Euben, Roxanne Leslie and Muhammad Qasim Zaman, eds. Princeton readings in Islamist thought: Texts and contexts from al-Banna to Bin Laden. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Crone, Patricia and Martin Hinds. God’s caliph: Religious authority in the first centuries of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Readings from course textbooks appear in small caps. All other readings include full bibliographical citations and are available electronically on the class Desire2Learn website. It is highly recommended that you prepare in advance by downloading and/or printing all online readings at the beginning of the course, so that you can concentrate on reading them over the semester. While ‘recommended reading’ are not obligatory, they may be useful when preparing research papers (those with an asterisk (*) are highly encouraged). Primary source readings are noted below.