Duke University

Department of Religious Studies

REL 160, AMES 160, ICS 160


Instructors: Professor Mohsen Kadivar and Professor Omid Safi

Spring 2022

M/W 5:15-6:30 PM

Course Description

       Islam is simultaneously one of the most frequently discussed and least understood of the world’s major religious traditions. The current course serves as an introduction to this religious tradition, including the foundational scripture (the Qur’an), the life of the Prophet (Muhammad), and major dimensions of Islamic thought and practice ranging from ethics/law and theology to mysticism and philosophy. This course will also include a unit on contemporary debates in Islam, as American Muslims.

This is an introductory course of Islam, that does not need any background or prerequisite. It is designed for any student (of any faith background, or none) who wants to learn about Islam, its essential teachings and its major sources.

We will discuss the Qur’an in two levels, first the history and its role in Muslim life. Then we focus on the early chapters (suras) of the Qur’an and their short commentaries and interpretation, before moving on to the presentation of the lives of Biblically familiar prophets in the Qur’an.

We will explore the life, essential teachings and legacy of Prophet Muhammad in the third part of the course. This part helps the students to understand the role of Muhammad in Islamic practice, as well as traditions of devotion traced back to him.

The fourth part of the course will focus on Islamic mysticism or Sufism. We will discuss divine love in Islam. Finally, the fifth part of the course will explore the situation of Muslims in US and especially African-American Muslims.

We will use videos, audio files in support of the content of each session. The approach of the course is critical analysis.       

Close this search box.