‘Heresy’ in the Medieval Islamic World: Course Outline

Peace, one and all…

In a recent post, I referred to my forthcoming course (‘Heresy’ in the Medieval Islamic World).  I’ve recently finished the relevant paperwork and so I thought I’d share the basic course outline with you all (God willing).

My aim here is to encourage discussion, as well as to share my academic work in general.  The basic structure of the course is a 10 week programme (two hours each week).

Enjoy…

Course Outline

I. Introduction: Sources, Texts and Questions
In this session, we will look at the course structure and outline, as well as looking at our key historical sources and some of the questions they raise

II. What is Heresy in an Islamic context?
In this session, we will explore the nature of heresy a little more closely.  In particular, we will explore some of the meanings of heresy before attempting to ask what heresy might be in a medieval Islamic context.

III. Seeking Muhammad’s Legacy
All of the sectarian movements we will look at in this course consciously attempted to anchor their respective world views in their perception of Muhammad’s legacy.  In this session, we will look more closely at what that legacy was.  In particular, we will look at the emergence of the Sunni-Shia divide after Muhammad’s death.

IV. The Khawarij
In this session, we will look at the history and thought of perhaps the earliest identifiable sectarian movement, that of the khawarij (literally ‘those who go out’).  We will look at some of their key ideas in their historical context.

V. The Early Messianic Groups: the Ghulat Shia and the meaning of Ghuluww
Messianic thought was another important strain amongst ‘heretical’ movements.  In this session, we will explore the history and thought of a number of early messianic movements, before assessing the impact of their ideas upon the wider Islamic world.

VI. The Emergence of the Ismailis
The Ismaili school of thought is a long established and important part of the broader Shii tradition.  In this session, we will look at the emergence of the Ismailiyya as an identifiable religious group in the early fourth century hijri.

VII. Classical Ismaili Thought
In this session, we will look more closely at the thought of the Classical Ismaili period, starting with the rise of the Fatimid dynasty until the collapse of the Nizari state at Alamut in the thirteenth century

VIII. The Hurufiyya
In this session, we will explore later messianic thought in post-Mongol Iran.  In this session, we will look at the Hurufi movement, started by Fazlallah Astarabadi.

IX. The Nurbakhshiyya
In this session, we will look at the Nurbakhshi movement of eastern Iran.

X. Course Conclusion

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