Academic Programs 

Introduction to World Religions   (HI-530)
  Fall 2005

What does it mean to be a Hindu, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Jew in the contemporary world? In this course we will read the (auto)biographies of 20th and 21st century people of faith who talk about their personal religious experiences in the context of the historical traditions of which they are a part. Readings will include the spiritual journeys of both men and women as they reflect on such issues as the nature and relationship of human and divine, the meaning of sacred and secular, and how to live in this world while preparing for the next.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:50 p.m., beginning September 22  


Jane I. Smith
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

Readings: (available in Seminary bookstore)


Cowan, Paul. An Orphan in History. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing,    1982/2002.

Esack, Farid. On Being a Muslim. Finding a religious path in the world today. Oxford: Oneworld, 1999.

Mackenzie, Vicki. Cave in the Snow. Tenzim Palmoís Quest for Enlightenment. Bloomsbury, 1998.

Reymond, Lizelle. My Life with a Brahmin Family. Baltimore: Penguin Book, 1957.

Optional: (student must choose one of these)

Feld, Merle. A Spiritual Life. A Jewish feminist journey. Albany, NY: SUNY, 1999.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. My Masterís Robe. Memories of a Novice Monk. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2002.

Mernissi, Fatima. Dreams of Trespass. Tales of a Harem Girlhood.


Class Sessions:

September 15:    NO CLASS 

September 22:    Introduction

September 29:    Questions for consideration; introduction to Hinduism

October 6:           Devotional Hinduism; discussion of reading

Reading: My Life with a Brahman Family

October 13:         Introduction to Buddhism; discussion of reading

Reading:  selected passages from Sri Aurobindo (distributed in Xerox)

October 20:         Developments in Buddhism; discussion of reading

Reading:  Cave in the Snow

October 27:         Film or speaker; discussion of reading

Reading:  My Masterís Robe (optional)


November 10:      Visit to synagogue   

November 17:       Guest speaker on Judaism; discussion of reading

Reading:   An Orphan in History; A Spiritual Life (optional)


December 1:         Introduction to Islam; Islam in the West; women in Islam

December 8:         Discussion of reading

Reading:  On Being a Muslim; Dreams of Trespass (optional)

December 15:        Conclusion


1.      Reading all required texts in time to participate in class discussion. In addition, each class participant must read one of the optional texts in time for relevant discussion in class (total of 5 books).      

2.      Writing 5 short essays. For each book read (including one optional text) students must write a 3-4 page paper, double spaced, responding to one of the questions distributed.

3.      Leading class discussions. Each person will share with others in leading the discussion on a particular text, assignments to be made at the beginning of class.



Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500