Kenyon College homepage Department of Religion
Vernon Schubel  Classical Islam

Religion 33 (1999)

Vernon Schubel

Office Hours M. 9:30-12:30

Ascension 311

MWF Periods 7 & 8

PBX 5801 / E-Mail SCHUBEL



This course is a historical and topical survey of the origins and development of the Islamic religion. It is primarily concerned with the life and career of the Prophet of Islam, the teachings of the Qur'an, and the development of the Muslims community and its principal institutions to about 1300 C.E. Special emphasis will be paid to the emergence of Sunnism, Shi'ism, and Sufism as the three distinct yet interrelated schools of thought and practice in Islam. The objectives of this course are:

(A) to provide the student with a basic grounding in the essential aspects of Islamic thought and practice.

to help the student to think through some of the basic questions of human existence in the light of the
answers provided to these questions by the great saints and sages of Islamic culture.

(C) to examine the ways in which a civilization comes to grips with the problems of meaning and values over
time in the crucible of history and the role of religion in that process


1) Class attendance and participation. Lack of attendance will result in a lowering of your grade.

2) Completion of reading assignments both from the required texts and supplemental materials to be replaced on Reserve in the library.

3) Two in-class examinations (30% each).

4) A fully documented short research paper (10-12 pages) (30%) on a topic prearranged with the instructor. The paper will be presented in three stages. Paper topic and bibliography will be due on October 7. These will be evaluated and will count for 10% of the grade on the paper. Students who submit unacceptable topics will be given a chance to re-submit a new topic with no penalty. It is in your interest to meet with the professor well before the topic is due to explore possible topics. A 3-4 page outline of the paper will be due on November 2nd. This outline will also be evaluated and count as 10% of the final paper grade. The final paper will be due on or before November 18th. Late work will not be accepted except in urgent circumstances. If you feel your work will be delayed, contact the professor well in advance. (Midnight the night before by E-mail is not sufficient warning).

5) A short objective quiz on material covered in the last section of the course.

REQUIRED TEXTS (available in the bookstore)

Cragg, Kenneth, Islam from Within
Denny, F.M., An Introduction to Islam
Rahman, Fazlur, Major Themes of the Qur'an
Hodgson, Marshall, The Venture of Islam, I.


1) Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Introduction: The study of Religion and the Study of Islam.
Hodgson, pp. 3-99

2) Sept 7-9
Pre-Islamic Arabia and the Emergence of the Prophet.
Denny, skim chapter 1-3, read chapter 4. Hodgson, pp. 103-158.

3) Sept. 14-21 The Life of the Prophet.
Denny, Chapter 5. Hodgson, pp. 158-195.

4) Sept 23-28 The Qur'an.
Rahman, Chapters 1-7. Denny, Chapter 8. Cragg, Chapter 1.

FIRST EXAM, September 30th

5) Oct. 5-7 Schools of Thought: The succession of the Prophet and the Force of Historical
Denny, Chapter 7. Hodgson, pp. 195-279.


6) Oct. 12-19 Schools of Thought: Shi'a, Sunni, and Sufi.
Hodgson, pp. 359-409. On Reserve: Schubel, Religious Performance, 11-33

7) Oct 21-26 The Shariah.
Denny, Chapter 11. Hodgson, pp. 315-359. Cragg, Chapter 4.

8) Oct. 28-Nov. 2 The Sunnah of the Prophet.
Denny, Chapter 9. Cragg, Chapter 3.

PAPER OUTLINE due November 2nd

9) Nov. 4-9 Practical Piety--Prayer, Fasting, and Zakat.
Denny, Chapter 6. Cragg, Chapter 3.

SECOND EXAM, November 11th.

10) Nov. 16-18 Practical Piety--Pilgrimage, Shi'i ritual. Denny, 343-347. Cragg, 65-70.
Schubel 71-115. On reserve: Aramco World Magazine special issue on the Hajj.

FINAL PAPER due November 18th.

11) Nov. 30-Dec. 2 Sufism--Origins and Concepts.
Denny, Chapter 12. On reserve: articles by Shahidullah Faridi, "Baiat" and "The
Spiritual Psychology of Islam"

12) Dec. 8-10 Sufism--Practices, Institutions, and Popular Devotions.
Denny, Chapter 13. Objective Quiz December 10th.

There is no final exam in this course.