courses
GRADUATE COURSES

ISLAMIC THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY

(NMC 2050Y = Undergraduate NMC 486Y) A different topic is to be explored each time the course is offered: Islamic Theology in the classical period; the earliest philosophers, later philosophical problems; Isma’ili philosophy, Ibn ‘Arabi and wahdat al-wujud, Haydar Amuli, The Isfahan School, the Shaykhiya.

ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS THOUGHT 

(NMC 2052H)The focus here is Islamic mystical philosophy, its place in the greater Islamic intellectual tradition and the specific history of its development from the earliest times to the present. Special attention to the basic textual sources and their interpretation is of interest. Authors from a wide variety of backgrounds and orientations will be studied for their views on the nature of being, religious authority & law, revelation, community, love & knowledge, among other questions. The development of this discourse after the death of Ibn Rushd in the late 12th century is of particular importance to the work of the seminar.

IMAGES OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD IN LITERATURE 

(NMC 2053Y) This seminar will consider questions surrounding the image or picture of the prophet Muhammad as such may be perceived in literary works. In the first semester we will consider works written from the rise of Islam until 1258. In the second semester we will consider works written from 1258 to the present. In addition, other representations of the Prophet will be discussed. Seminar participants are encouraged to explore a wide range of genres and types of literary compositions touching on and including (but not restricted to): Qur'an, Sira, Hadith, Tafsir, Adab, Poetry, Fiqh, Kalám, Falsafa, and Tasawwuf. Literature written from outside the Muslim community may also be of interest. 
Prerequisites: Ability in the Languages of Islamicate Culture and Civilization

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES

Introduction to the Religion of Islam

(NMC 185H) This course will examine the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims. The period of time covered by the course is approximately from shortly before the birth of Islam in the 7th century to the present. Attention will focus on the central concerns of the religion: God, Prophethood, Holy Book, Community, the Individual. The sources and development of the Sharí‘a, the teachings and development of the mystical tradition, the Muslim contributions to art and science, social institutions such as marriage and divorce, family life, the position of women in Islam, modern social changes and the impact of the West on Muslim lands and vice versa will also be discussed. (Offered in alternate years.)

The Qur'an: Spirit and Form

(NMC285H) Despite the best efforts of a number of very gifted translators, the Qur'án remains a puzzling book for the English reader. The purpose of this course is to explain why the Qur'an is possibly the most highly venerated book in history and how this came to be. Various questions to be addressed are: how it came to be committed to writing, the nature of its structure and content (exhortation, history, laws, prayer). Specific topics include God and Humanity in the Qur'án, the Quranic sciences (including interpretation); the Qur'án as a major source of inspiration throughout the various expressions of Islamic culture (architecture, art, literature, science, family life, commerce and so on), the influence of the Qur'án outside Islam; Jesus in the Qur'án. the status of women, and so on. Focused study sessions will allow students to encounter directly and personally what is frequently referred to as the Quranic theophany mediated through the English language with a view to gaining a deeper appreciation of what this means and how it “works”. Knowledge of Arabic may be useful for the individual student but it is neither required nor expected for this course.

The Qur’an: Reading and Transformation

(NMC286H) This course is a continuation of the above. Students will be required to engage directly with the text in English or French translation, to discuss and write on major and minor quranic topics and themes and to study the works of other astute readers of the text. Arabic is not required or expected. These two courses will be of interest to people in Religious Studies, Islamic studies, Comparative Literature, and Literary Theory.

Islamic Mystical Tradition 

(NMC387H) This course examines the nature, origin and historical evolution of the Islamic mystical tradition and its relationship to the greater Islamic religious tradition. Lectures will cover major topics such as the Qur'an, doctrine, prayer, Sufism, Irfan (Shi'i mysticism). Themes include love, knowledge, authority, being, interpretation.

Shi‘i Islam I: From the Birth of Islam to 1258

(NMC388H) Because of the comparative remoteness of its major centres when the West began learning about Islam in earnest during the 18th and 19th centuries, Shi'i Islam has remained somewhat neglected as a major subject of inquiry. Recent history, however, has inspired a new interest in what has traditionally, and perhaps misleadingly, been referred to as "heterodox" Islam. Subjects to be covered in this course include the history and teachings of the various members of the Shi'i family of Islamic religion — including the Imami or Ithna-ashari (12er) Shi'a, the Ismailis, the Zaydis — and their relations with Sunni Islam over time. Examples from history of specifically Shi'i political experiments (Fatamids, Safavids) as well as contemporary Shi'i Iran will be presented in an attempt to elucidate the relationship between Shi'ism and government. Prominent themes include walaya (authority), prayer, self-sacrifice and suffering, messianism. Distinctive Shi'i interpretations of the Qur'an will be examined.

Shi'i Islam II: From 1258 to the Present 

(NMC389H) This course continues the study of Shi'ism from 1258 to the present day and will include the history and teachings of the various members of the Shi'i famly of Islamic religion.

Muslim Gnostics and Mystics 

(NMC481H) This course will present for study a different prominent figure or “school” each year: The Mystical Qur’án, The Baghdad Mystics, Hallaj, Ghazali, Suhrawardi, The Ishraqiyún, Ibn Arabi, Wahdat al-Wujud, Rumi, Mulla Sadra, and so on. Attention will be given to their respective social and historical milieux, their modes of expression and experience, and the nature of their literary productions. This course will be of interest to students in Religious Studies, Islamic Studies, History, Philosophy and Comparative Literature.