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Politics and Islam


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Fred Anscombe
  • Assessment: coursework of 1000 words (20%) and a 4000-word essay (80%)

Module description

We start with consideration of the motivations, tactics and goals of radical Islamic movements in the world today. The primary focus will be on the Middle East, but comparisons with other areas of the Islamic world will form an important theme of discussion. The tensions and alliances between Islam and political authority from the Era of the Prophet Muhammad to the establishment of independent, 'modern' states in the twentieth century will be examined in the first several weeks of the term. Attention then shifts to the progressively more radical movements of the independence era, which have campaigned for social and spiritual renewal in the face of opposition from authoritarian secular rulers.

You are not expected to enter the option with any detailed knowledge of Islam or the Middle East, but with this introduction to the historical development of Islam's relationship to politics, they should finish the course equipped to discuss reasonably such complex issues as the compatibility of Islam with democracy/civil society or the inevitability of violence in Islamic political movements.