BA Arabic Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Contemporary Debates in Islam

Unit code MEST30032
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This course explores the ways in which the notion of ‘modernity’ has been constructed and debates in relation to what is perceived as ‘tradition’. It begins by looking at how the new technologies and educational systems which were introduced during the colonial period stimulated the imagination of intellectual elites who were searching for ways to be good and modern Muslims. Exploring case studies from the 19th century to the present day Middle East, the course discusses textual and discursive strategies of presenting ‘proper Islam’ in contradistinction to that what is labelled as ‘non-Islamic’. Weekly readings and discussions during the lecture/seminars are geared towards examining the place of religious traditions in the modern world.

Aims

  • To become familiar with the key issues that shape the debates on ‘tradition’ in modern Islam;
  • To critically investigate a wide range of theoretical approaches discussing the formation of ‘tradition’ in relation to ‘modernity’

 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Discuss the key issues that shape the debates about ‘tradition’ in modern Islam (19th-21st centuries);
  • Critically investigate a wide range of theoretical approaches discussing the formation of ‘tradition’ in relation to ‘modernity’;
  • Compare and contrast social and historical contexts in which the traditions of Islam have been problematised and debated since 19th century.


 

Syllabus

  1. Debating ‘Tradition’ in the Modern Middle East
  2. Mass Media and the Transformation of Islamic Learning
  3. Competing Visions of Tradition 1: Hadith
  4. Competing Visions of Tradition 2: Fatwa
  5. Critical Discourses on Sufism
  6. The ‘Problem’ of Saints
  7. An ‘Ideal Woman’ in Modern Islam
  8. The Challenges of Muslim Women in Europe
  9. Modernity and Religious Traditions
  • Week 9-11 may be dedicated to student presentations, depending on the number of students in the course.

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lecture
  • Course work (weekly reading assignment and response paper)
  • Discussion at seminar
  • Directed Reading
  • Blackboard E-Learning

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand and discuss theoretical issues related to tradition and  modernity in Islam
  • Compare and contrast social and historical contexts in which the traditions of Islam have been problematised and debated since 19th century.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Develop analytical capacity to comprehend theoretical materials
  • Improve the ability to examine primary and secondary sources.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Use library and online resources
  • Present ideas in a clear and orderly manner
  • Write a well-structured and argued essay  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Presentation skills (oral and written)
  • Time management and punctuality 

Employability skills

Other
Critical thinking and analytical skills. Broad intellectual and cultural interests. Understanding of historical development and cultural contexts of particular traditions, disciplines or bodies of knowledge.

Assessment methods

 

 

Summative Assessment task

Length

Weighting within unit

Short Essay

(Individual essay on set topic, laying groundwork for subsequent coursework)

1500 words

 

 

25%

 

Oral Presentation

(individual presentation on topic chosen by student in consultation with convenor)

10 minutes

plus 5 minutes discussion

25%

 

Long Essay Project

(individual essay on topic chosen by student in consultation with convenor)

3000 words

50%

Formative Assessment:

Week 7 Title of Oral Presentation and Essay Project due

Week 9 Outline of Long Essay Project Due

Bibliography to be submitted alongside the Oral Presentation in Weeks 9-11



 



 

Feedback methods

  • Formative feedback on class discussion
  • Oral Presentation: in-class feedback and written comments through feedback form
  • Formative feedback on Short Essay plan
  • Formative feedback on Presentation title and Essay Project title and outline
  • Essays: written comments through feedback form

Recommended reading

  • Masud, Muhammad Khalid, Armando Salvatore and Martin van Bruinessen (eds), Islam and Modernity: Key Issues and Debates, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
  • Gilsenan, Michael, Recognizing Islam: Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East, Revised Edition, London: IB Tauris, 2000.
  • Voigt, Kari (ed.) et al., New Directions in Islamic Thought, London: IB Tauris, 2011

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tom Woerner - Powell Unit coordinator

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