Spring 2020

Orthodoxy and Heresy in Islam

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-185  |  Religion, as RELI-185


Tariq Jaffer (Section 01)


In this course we will explore the past and present of Islamic orthodoxy—the authoritative prescription of the correct (T. Asad). We will examine pre-modern and modern Muslim authors and schools of thought that are engaged in establishing and prescribing normative standards of Islamic ideals and practice. In the course of exploring works of Islamic law, theology, philosophy, mysticism, Qur'anic commentary, and other genres that exhibit an “orthodox-izing" tendency (S. Ahmed), we will pay close attention to the roles played by political authorities and events, social and religious institutions and concepts; and to the ways that these motivate, shape, and guide Islamic discourse that is directed toward establishing authoritative truth. Our objectives are to address several principal questions. Can the emergence of Sunnism be interpreted as the development of orthodoxy? To what degree is Islam directed towards the authoritative establishment of an exclusive truth? Are Muslims perpetual and persistent orthodox-izers? How can interrogating “Sunni" orthodoxy and “sectarian” heresies teach us about how claims to authority are made and how truth is conceptualized in Islam?

Spring semester. Associate Professor Jaffer.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2021