Islam and Social Theory

Term: Spring 2012

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6354

For centuries, Islam has been an object of Orientalist inquiry, and as such, it has served as one of the many ‘significant Others’ of Western social and political theory. As Hegel, Marx, Weber and others have all drawn various lessons from Islam, some contemporary discourse which focuses on the public sphere, secularism and democracy continue to single out Islam as an outlier. The reverse side of the coin has been, for Muslim intellectuals, to invoke Islam as an alternative source of social theory: thus the last decades have witnessed an increasing effort to ‘Islamize’ knowledge and to show that Islam can be a source of social justice, a source of equality or even a promoter of democracy. This seminar will survey these two trends in social theory and introduce the students to a variety of key themes of political theory and in the sociology of religion. The nexus of Islam and capitalism, Islam and democracy, Islamic feminism or the place of secularism are prime examples of the contemporary debates raging around Islam and social theory and addressed in this course. Authors read will be, among others, Max Weber, Bryan Turner, Maxime Rodinson, Olivier Roy, Asef Bayat, Roxanne Euben, and a selection of Muslim or Islamic intellectuals (S. Qutb, A. Shariati, R. Khomeyni, M. Baqir al-Sadr, or Y. Qaradawi).

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