Fall 2018

Introduction to Islamic Traditions

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-187  |  Religion, as RELI-187


Tariq Jaffer (Section 01)


(Offered as RELI 187 and ASLC 187) Islam is a tradition with 1400 years of history and over one billion adherents today in countries around the globe. This course equips students with the basic vocabulary needed to understand the diversity of ideals and practices, sects, and intellectual currents found among Muslims over the course of this history. In the first half of the course, we will engage in close readings from scripture (the Qur’an and hadith), and central texts of biography, law, theology, and mysticism (Sufism) to discover the variety of Islamic ideals and practices. We will emphasize the ways that the meanings of such ideals and practices are contested within the Islamic tradition. In the second half of the course, we will shift to examine early modern and modernist ideals and socio-religious practices by engaging with anthropological and historical studies. In these final modules, we will interrogate the ways that the canonical sources of medieval Islam are deployed, their meanings and significance contested and reinterpreted against the backdrop of geopolitical events and socio-political landscapes as well as in light of personal experiences and European thought.

Fall semester. Limited to 25 students. Seven seats reserved for first-year students. Professor Jaffer.

If Overenrolled: Preference to first year students and those who attend the first class.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Fall 2018