This course explores the central teachings, institutions and practices of Sufism, a stream of Islam which stresses the esoteric (mystical) dimensions of religious faith. It reflects upon the inward quest and devotions of Muslim mystics as these have been lived and expressed in art, theology, literature, and fellowship since the 8th century CE until today. We’ll try to answer how and why such an inwardly oriented, elitist piety and philosophy has gained such a wide popular following to become a potent social and political force that continues to shape the lives of millions of Muslims until today.
A review paper, a research paper, a class presentation, and a final exam.
Students, preferably with some basic knowledge of Islam, who are interested in exploring various dimensions of Islamic spirituality; students with interest in comparative religions studies are also welcome.
Discussion of readings and film demonstrations; students’ class presentations.