Islam in a Global World

Course InstructorNoreen Herzfeld is the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor of Science and Religion at St. John’s University, Collegeville.  She holds degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from The Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Theology from The Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.  Herzfeld is the author of In Our Image:  Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit (2002), Technology and Religion: Remaining Human in a Co-Created World (2009), and The Limits of Perfection in Technology, Religion, and Science (2010).

Course Information:  Mondays, April 8-May 13, 2013, 9:30-11:30 a.m., O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, UST St. Paul Campus

Course Description:  Protests in Libya, the Arab spring, our complex relationship with Iran, whether to accept the veil – Islam shapes much of our current political and social context.  It is also the fastest growing faith in America.  This course will focus on how the traditions and beliefs of Islam influence and inform current political and cultural events around the globe.  As we study these events we will also raise a variety of questions that pertain to all faiths, such as how to interpret scripture in a modern age, the role and position of women, what constitutes a just war, and the conflict between freedom of speech and religious respect.

Registration fee for the series:  $80.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card, click on this link

To register by check or cash through the mail or in-person, click on this link for the registration formSpring 2013 Registration Form

Link to campus map:  St. Paul Campus Map

Detailed Course Syllabus (subject to change):

April 8

What do Muslims believe?

What are the basic beliefs of Muslims and how do they reflect the world in which Mohammad lived?  We will explore the basic tenets of Islma, what it ways about God, and the roots of the five pillars o creed, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage in the social structures of Arabia at the time of its origin.

April 15

The Qur'an:  Interpreting Scripture in a Global World

What does the Qur'an really say?  How does it reflect and differ from Jewish and Christian scriptures?  We will examine several surahs and discuss the problem of interpreting scripture in a modern and global context.

April 22

The Veil and other Women's Issues

Western countries struggle to understand the meaning of the veil to Muslim women and whether to accommodate it or not.  We will use the veil as our example as we look at the changing role of women in the Muslim world and the challenges they face.

April 29

Jihad and Fundamentalism

What does the Qur'an really say about jihad?  Are fundamentalist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah an aberration or an integral part of the Islamic world?  We will examine what the history and scripture of Islam teaches on conflict and how this compares to Christian just war theory.

May 6

Religion's Role in Iran and the Arab Spring

Revolution, first in Iran and now in much of the Arab world has changed the political landscapce.  Are these revolutions, and their political aftermath primarily religious or political?  What role will religion play in the shaping of a new Middle East?

May 13

Misperceptions:  Islam and the Media

Cartoons, videos, protests - how is the instantaneous and global media shaping not only our image of Islam but their image of themselves and of the West?  What do we get wrong about Islam and why do these misperceptions last?