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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

MES 17.21 Islamic Spirituality: Sufism, Mysticism, Asceticism

This course examines Sufism or what is often called the mystical tradition in Islam. In Western media and popular discourse, Sufism is frequently portrayed as the “soft-side” of Islam that is uninterested in rituals, norms, the law, or politics—in contrast to the harsh “legalism” of the Shari\u02BFa, or Islamic law. In this course, we will interrogate this portrayal through a rigorous textual and conceptual study, using both primary Sufi texts and secondary sources. The course will first trace the development of Sufism, including its shared heritage in the religious traditions of the ancient Near East and India. Then, with a primary focus on the medieval Islamic world, the course engages multiple aspects of Sufism including its institutional and intellectual history, metaphysics, meditation and disciplinary practices, poetry and literature, the limits of normative Sufism, and orientalist and neo-imperialist representations of Sufism. Finally, using recent works from the fields of anthropology and sociology, the class will consider the role of Sufism in the Arab Spring.

Not open to students who have received credit for REL 25

Cross Listed Courses

REL 16.06

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:TMV; WCult:NW

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.