College of DuPage will offer a new course this fall that will introduce students to both the Islamic religion and Islamic civilization.
"Introduction to Islam" will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning on Aug. 26. Les Wolf, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy, said the course will help students understand the basic points of Islam.
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"Few people think of Islam as both a civilization and a religion. In the West, for example, it's thought of almost exclusively as a religion," he said. "But you can't understand world civilization without studying Islamic civilization."
The course will explore such topics as the life of Muhammad, early Islamic history, the Qur'an, the hadith, Islamic law, Shi'ism, Sufism, art and architecture, the role of women in Islam, interfaith relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the experience of Muslims in the West.
Wolf began studying Islam in-depth while an undergraduate at New York University. As a teaching fellow at Augustana College, Wolf taught a course on Islam, focusing mainly on contemporary Islamic politics. He said most people are unaware of the continued influence of this 1,400-year-old global civilization and that Islam currently can be found all over the world, with the largest number of Muslims being located in Indonesia.
"As with Christianity or Hinduism, you have to distinguish Islam between its religion and civilization. Islam produced some of the greatest art in the world. The calligraphy alone is highly geometric and stunning," he said. "The architecture of mosques located in various parts of the world reflect the local culture and history. For example, many Islamic mosques in India incorporate Hindu architectural elements."
Through the study of Islam, Wolf hopes students also learn something about themselves.
"Despite Islam's profound effect on Western civilization, few Americans have a rudimentary understanding of the Qur'an and don't realize that a majority of Muslims in the world are not Arab," he said. "We all need to learn more about Islam, and by doing so we can grasp a better understanding of who we are, what we believe and even our own politics