RELG207

In 610 CE, an Arab man named Muhammad son of Abdullah claimed to have received the words of God. It was the beginning of the Islamic religion. Over the next years his few followers were mocked, beaten, and some, even killed. And yet somehow, 1400 years later, this man’s movement has evolved into the second largest world religion with well over a billion followers. Moreover, the early Islamic legacy includes refined scholarly works examining varied topics such as human free will, the nature of God and his attributes, law and ethics, and the mystical path to spiritual union with the divine. In this course, we will explore the history of early Islam, focusing on the religion’s beginnings, the Muslim conquests, the Sunni/Shi’a split, the canonization of the religion’s foundational texts, and the development of the enduring Islamic intellectual sciences such as Shari’a law and Sufism.