Understanding Islam: Rumor and Reality (RS-515)
ONLINE: Monday, June 5 to Friday, June 23
Instructor: Jane I. Smith
Course Description: This introductory course is designed to meet the growing need since 9-11 for basic information about Islam. It will cover Islamic beliefs and practices, issues faced by Muslims living in the West, the role of women in Islam, and current efforts at Muslim-Christian dialogue. The course may be of particular interest to Christian pastors, leaders and laypeople. It is co-sponsored by the National Council of Churches of Christ. Each week several new topics will be introduced. Students must be prompt and timely in their on-line responses to discussion questions posed by the instructor.
R. Marston Speight, God is One. The Way of Islam. Second Edition with Afterword and Study Guide. New York: Friendship Press, 2001.
Asma Gull Hasan, Why I am a Muslim. An American Odyssey. Harper, 2004.
Texts are available through the Hartford Seminary Bookstore (firstname.lastname@example.org 860-509-9527). Students are advised to read the texts before the beginning of the course if possible. Additional readings will be available on-line.
Week One: Essentials of Islam
Introduction (1) to the course with post from me, and (2) introduction to the participants with post from me, and invitation to introduce yourself [June 5]
Islam as Primal and Final Revelation: Post from me, with discussion questions [June 6]
Faith: Believing and Behaving. Required reading posted: “Muslim Faith and Practice,” from Jane Smith’s Islam in America, pp. 1-21. [June 7]
Is Islam a Religion of Revenge and Retaliation? Post from me, with discussion questions. [June 8]
Catch-up: answers and comments [June 9]
Week Two: Islam in America
The nature of American Islam. Required readings posted: “Islam Comes to America,” pp. 1-10; Snapshots: a cross-section of American Muslims, pp. 1-3, Post from me on “The Nature of American Islam,” with no discussion questions. However, please give a 1-page post suggesting what you liked or did not like in Asma Gull Hasan, Why I Am a Muslim. [June 12-13]
Optional: “Islam in the African American Community,” in Islam in America, pp. 76-103, posted.
Major Concerns of the Community, including Women. Required reading posted: “Setting the Scene,” from Haddad, Moore and Smith, Muslim Women in America, pp. 3-20. Post from me on “Major Concerns of the Community,” with discussion questions. [June 14-15]
Catch-up: questions, answers and comments [June 16]
Week Three: Christian-Muslim Relations
a. Past and Present Encounters. Required reading posted: “Christian-Muslim Relations,” with no discussion questions. However, please give a 1-page post
suggesting the most important things that you learned from Marston Speight, God is One. Do you think this is a good book for Christians to read when they are looking to have dialogue with Muslims? [June 19-20]
b. Muslims and Christians talking to each other. Post from me on issues such as theological pluralism, what kinds of dialogue are most successful, and whether Jews should join the conversation, with discussion questions. [June 21-22]
c. Conclusion and final catch-up: questions, answers and comments [June 23]
Read the two assigned texts and other materials posted for each week’s topics.
Post your responses to one or more of the questions for consideration raised by the instructor for each topic.
Read the responses of your classmates, and choose one to reply to. NOTE: If you and a classmate decide that you want to continue a more detailed conversation about any issue, please do so by personal e-mail between the two of you.
Select a topic related to any of the three main areas covered in the course that particularly interests you, and write a 10-15 page paper on that topic to be submitted on-line. Please let me know what you will be writing about BEFORE the end of the three weeks of the course. The essay will not be due until the end of August. I am interested not only in your research, but in any opinions you would like to offer about the material.