Academic Programs 

Contemporary Islamic Ethics (ET-655)
Summer 2006

For Muslims committed to living Islam as a way of life, contemporary society offers many challenges. A commitment to the common good exists in tension with the need to protect individual rights. The desire to uphold family values may conflict with the need to defend pluralism and civil liberties. In a world threatened with violence from many sources, self-defense and security take on new meaning. In this class, we will examine these tensions and the Islamic principles that can help Muslims live ethically and with integrity in American society. Case studies will include debates about abortion, gay marriage, militarism and minimum wage.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, June 19 – Monday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ingrid Mattson
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9531




Course Syllabus


  1. Read the background articles (below) before the start of class.  Short written summary of readings to be submitted to professor at beginning of first day of class. (10 points)
  1. Fully participate in all classes unless permission for absence is granted by instructor. (20 points)
  1. Prepare a 45 minute oral presentation to give to the class Wednesday, Thursday or Friday (time will be assigned by instructor).  Topics must be selected from list below and approved by the professor before or by the first day of class.  Written notes must be submitted to instructor on day of presentation.  (30 points)
  1. Submit final paper or project by August 15, 2006 (40 points)

Class hours:

Monday – Thursday:  9am – 4pm; lunch break:  12:15 – 1:15.
Friday:  9am – 4pm; lunch and prayer break:  12pm – 2pm.

Background reading (for first day of class):

Richard M. Frank, “Moral Obligation in Classical Muslim Theology,” Journal of Religious Ethics v. 11/2 (Fall 1983): 204 – 223.

Charles E. Butterworth, “Ethics in Medieval Philosophy,” Journal of Religious Ethics v. 11/2 (Fall 1983): 224 – 249.

Peter J. Awn, “The Ethical Concerns of Classical Sufism” Journal of Religious Ethics v. 11/2 (Fall 1983): 240 263.

A Kevin Reinhart, “Islamic Law as Islamic Ethics,” 186-203.

A Kevin Reinhart, “Ethics and the Qur’an,” Encyclopedia of the Qur’an.

Presentation Topics: 
(Must get approval of instructor; other topics may be suggested.)
  1. Animal experimentation.
  2. Treatment of farm animals and eating meat.
  3. Pre-natal testing and abortion.
  4. Stem-cell research.
  5. Assisted suicide; DNR.
  6. Death penalty.
  7. End of life issues.
  8. Consumer ethics.
  9. You and your money.
  10. Weapons of mass destruction.
  11. Sex offenders:  punishment and treatment.
  12. Privacy versus security.
  13. Self-esteem and plastic surgery.
  14. Cloning.
  15. Public decency.
  16. Reason and responsibility (determining competence and age of consent).
  17. Confidentiality.
  18. Adoption.
  19. Organ transplantation.
  20. Elder care.
  21. Treatment of workers.
  22. Zakat collection.
  23. Zakat distribution.
  24. Medical marijuana and prohibited substances.
  25. Gentrification and property taxes.
  26. Prisons and punishment.
  27. Criminal records and expungement.
  28. Community versus Individual rights.
  29. Land expropriation for the public good.
  30. Water usage and ownership.
  31. Education:  public, private or parochial?
  32. Access to health care.
  33. Affirmative action.

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