This course surveys conceptualizations of the divine in Muslim thought and practice. The goal is to map out an intellectual history in which ideas of God provide an ordering framework, a core around which the more familiar elements of the Muslim experience take shape. It is important to emphasize that the focus in this course is on concepts of God not as objects of devotion but as subjects of inquiry. The task is two-fold: first, to show the multiplicity of normative ideas and narratives about God that are present in Muslim history; and secondly to relate changes in ideas about the divine to concrete historical conditions. Concepts of God do not just represent what people believe but also legitimate what people do, as individuals and collectivities. Ideas about the existence and knowability of the godhead, the relationship between God and nature, God and history, and God and humans are discussed. Aspects of the divine as reflected in Muslim scripture, i.e. the Quran, and canonical sources such as ḥadīth, are introduced early on and their intellectual and devotional implications are explored and emphasized throughout the semester.
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