taj mahal

                        RELIGIOUS STUDIES SEMINAR 470:  ISLAM

                                                               Spring 2021


                                                            Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi

Extension: x-7284

Office Hours: online by appointment

Class hours: W 4:40pm-6:35pm

Miguel Hall 207




In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds

The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Master of the Day of Judgment,

Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help.

Show us the straight path,

Guide us in the straight path, the path of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, not of those who have incurred your wrath nor of those who have gone astray.  ___Surah Al-Fatiha


This seminar is centered around sacred text, practice, politics and culture.  We will explore how the Qur’an functions as a vehicle of ethics, practice and political motivations for 1.5 billion Muslims.  In addition, we will look at how different countries approach the Qur’an.  What does it mean to study the Qur’an?  What do Muslims say in their prayers?  How does Islam see “others” in the Qur’an?  Some of the questions that we will be undertaking in our class.  We will do close readings in the Qur’an after a brief exegesis and explanation of the Qur’an and early Islamic history.  Some of readings are esoteric and when you get lost please read the transliterations which are excellent.  This class is exciting and will be also relating many of the readings of the Qur’an to contemporary issues in the context of Islam.



1.      The Study Qur’an Seyyed Hossein Nasr Bookstore and Amazon.

You must bring this book to all classes.


A. First paper is a creative paper: 4-6 pages on a Muslim topic that you have encountered and have some personal reflections about. For example, the Hijab, Jihad, Suicide, Marriage.  This is a creative paper so you will not need any research but the use of the Qur’an and your personal reflections. (20 points)

B.  Second paper is a research paper. 10-15 pages in consultation with the Professor.  (30 points)

C. Class participation and presentations will be worth 10 points.  Class participation includes attending class, being on time, the readings on time, completing any in class writing assignments, bringing the appropriate materials to class, and participating in class.  Quality class participation includes a certain quantity, but lots of uninformed quantity does not equal quality!  Students who do not participate in class in a meaningful way should not expect to receive an A or an A- at the end of the semester. (20 points)

D.      One of you will be expected to present every week at the start of our seminar.  You will all choose a Muslim country and a topic in the Qur’an and present it to class.  For example, what is the role of women in Bosnia?  What does the Qur’an state about gender?  I expect you will have done some contemporary research and some reading on the Qur’an.  I will have a sign-up sheet for you the first day of class. (15 points)


E.  Every week you will write an essay of 800-1000 words. This will be a reflection the reading which will be due on Moodle.  As you do your reading please take notes, and do some research as a goal each week. If you get stuck then write why you are stuck or have nothing to add, this too is significant! (15 points)