The School of Theology will offer the new course in Islam from 2012, broadening its offerings to students interested in faith and religion. Theology at the University has traditionally focused on exploring the beliefs and practices that have developed within Christianity.
“The study of Islamic cultures and societies is an important component of any internationally recognised university given their contribution to world civilization, historical prominence, and involvement in contemporary global politics,” says Dr Zain Ali, Head of the Islamic Studies Research Unit at The University of Auckland, who will teach the course.
“It will be of great interest to students, given the recent levels of interest in Islam within both academic and public domains and the diversity of competing perspectives that often surround this religious tradition.”
Islam and the Contemporary World will provide an introduction to Islam as a living tradition within a global context, while paying particular attention to Muslim presence and experience in New Zealand and Australia.
The course will provide a historical survey of Islam, including developments in Muslim theology, philosophy, and the interpretation of its sacred text, the Qur’an. There will also be a focus on contemporary themes relating to Islam, with core questions asked such as: is Islam compatible with democracy? What is the position of women in Islam? Is Islamic law practicable? How should the Qur’an be interpreted?
Dr Ali completed his PhD in Philosophy at The University of Auckland and helped establish the Islamic Studies Research Unit to promote scholarship in the field of Islamic Studies.
He will teach Islam and the Contemporary World along with Clare Wilde from the Department of Sociology, who has also been involved in the course’s design and content. Dr Wilde came to Auckland from Washington DC, where she taught courses on Islam for Georgetown University and the US Department of State.
The course is part of a Bachelor of Theology degree and will also be available to students more widely throughout the University as a General Education course.