Introduction to Political Islam

The Studio
172 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10013

Though widely depicted as a singular and reactionary movement, contemporary political Islam is neither a unified force nor necessarily an anti-modern one. On the contrary, 20th century conditions such as urbanization, nation-state formation, rising literacy rates, oil booms, women’s participation, and struggles against colonialism spurred “Islamist” political movements scattered across the Middle East and North Africa region. Defying the predictions of scholars and bureaucrats who viewed religion as destined to dwindle into obsolescence as secularism spread worldwide, these movements have surged in popularity over the last few decades.

This course will offer an introduction to contemporary political Islam in terms of its intellectual content and means of social mobilization. Inspired by a cacophony of voices, including, but not limited to, Ibn Taymiyya, al-Wahab, al- Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Muhammad Iqbal, Islamic activism has assumed various forms and strategies, depending on the historical, social, political, and economic forces impacting its diverse followers. Far from being a uniform strain of political or religious thought, Islamist movements have no shortage of differences in terms of ideology, philosophy, frameworks, and practice. We will be attuned to these points of rupture as we consider political Islam with respect to the social setting, strategic interests, and sites of power that constitute the contexts for its many ideological currents. Reading selections from some of the aforementioned authors in parallel with works by Asef Bayat, Julie Peteet, Charles Hirschkind, Roy Mottahedeh, Nikki Keddie, Quintan Wiktorowicz, Dale Eickelman, James Piscatori, and Saba Mahmood, we will work toward an empirically grounded understanding of contemporary Islamic movements, discussing notions of governance, community, maslahat (social justice), gender, colonialism, and nationalism, among others.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
June 08 — June 29, 2016
4 weeks


Registration Closed

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