REL 230
Who was Muhammad? Fall 2016 Division II; Exploring Diversity Initiative; Cross-listed as ARAB230 / GBST230 / REL230
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Considered the Messenger of God, Muhammad is a central character of the Islamic tradition and has been the object of love and devotion for centuries. Recent outbursts sparked by controversial cartoons depicting Muhammad have made clear that he remains a revered and controversial figure even today. This course takes a critical historical perspective to the biographies of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Rather than focus on the “facts” of his life, we will think about the ways in which historical context, political interests, and shifting conceptions of religion have influenced the way in which Muhammad has been imagined and remembered. We will also consider the ways in which Muslim and non-Muslims biographies of Muhammad are intertwined and interdependent, often developing in tandem with one another. By exploring Muslim and non-Muslim, pre-modern and modern accounts of Muhammad’s life, we will think about the many ways in which Muhammad’s life has been told and re-told over the centuries. In this course we will consider some of the following depictions of Muhammad: Muhammad as the object of ritual devotion; Muhammad as statesman and military leader; Muhammad’s polygynous marriages and his young wife, Aisha; Muhammad as social reformer and revolutionary. Course readings will include pre-modern biographies (in translation) as well as contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim biographies.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: none
Expected: 10
Class#: 1442
Requirements/Evaluation: reading responses, 3 short essays (3-4 pages double-spaced), and final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Religion majors
Distributions: Division II; Exploring Diversity Initiative;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under ARAB

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