ANT6130EN - Anthropology of Religion: Islam

Course description

Introduction to Islam as a religion and investigation of what it means to be Muslim in culture, practice and ideas. Examining primary sources, secondary readings, and visual materials, students will gain a foundation in Islamic precepts and history, together with various cultural articulations. Additionally, students will analyze ways in which Muslim tradition is re/defined and applied in particular present-day socio-political contexts.

How this course benefits students

The Bachelor’s level course gives students basic understanding of how theological and legal teachings of Islam are expressed in Muslim practice and culture. It equips students with rudimentary knowledge of Islam in its diverse forms, and prepares them for interactions with Muslim practitioners. The Master’s level course adds to these skills a deeper understanding of diverse socio-political factors and contexts that have shaped different forms of contemporary Islam in various nation-states. It also allows students to identify points of convergence and contrast in Muslim and Christian conceptualizations of God, sin, human nature, and Jesus.

Why this course is important

As the world's second-largest religion and one of the fastest-growing major religions in the world, Islam has over a billion followers spread over Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Moreover, with its prominent contemporary presence, historical significance, and shared theological references, Islam represents a religious tradition that challenges Christians to better understand their own cultural roots, religious precepts, and foundations of practice.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.
Dr. Kent Hallman, Professor of Social Anthropology

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

This course does not directly engage the Bible, but it gives students an opportunity to compare some of the Biblical passages with their Qur’anic versions and to discuss similarities and differences between the Biblical and Qur’anic contents, styles, and historical interpretations.

Missionally driven

As Christians we are called to embody Christ in our interactions not only with fellow Christians but also with people of other faiths. Learning about those faiths instills in students the idea that all humanity represents God’s creation and, therefore, is worthy of respect, compassion, and understanding.

Contextually informed

Teaching resources used in this course include articles, videos, music, poetry, and other media that illustrate the material and allow students to put it in concrete cultural and historical contexts.

Interculturally focused

Islam is not only an abstract set of beliefs and practices. It expresses itself in a culture that is significantly different from ours and by definition exposes students to unfamiliar patterns of behavior and thought.

Practically minded

There are two levels of practical engagement fostered in this course: a) exercises and discussions that present students with real case scenarios; b) knowledge gained in this course allows students to interact with Muslims in culturally sensitive ways. Practical skills developed by students include the ability to apply their basic knowledge of Islam in contact with Muslim refugees, local Muslim communities, or while traveling abroad (undergraduate level). The upper level course advances the students’ ability to interpret and evaluate some of the most important Muslim theological sources, thus preparing students for textual studies. Students will also be able to analyze and compare different forms of Islam in their local contexts. Both levels enhance critical thinking skills.

Experientially transformed

This course encourages students (depending on their location and opportunities) to seek contact with Muslims and to discuss with them the material learned in this course.