Spring 2023

The Lives of Muslim Saints

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-288  |  Religion, as RELI-288


Tariq Jaffer (Section 01)


(Offered as REL 288 and ASLC 288) A study of the most venerated saints in the history of Islam. We will read from their biographies, poetry (paying special attention to the themes of love), and theoretical and literary works. We will examine how such literature discloses the dimensions of Islamic mysticism: rituals and practices (some of which were considered socially deviant), theories of the self/soul, epistemologies, cosmologies, and ontologies. We will examine the ways that Sufi theories and practices challenged other self-professed Islamic orthodoxies and orthopraxies. We will ask: what made these aspects of Islamic mysticism (often subsumed under “Sufism”) so appealing as articulations of Islam? To answer this question, we will attempt to grasp how Muslim saints understood their expressions of Islam in relation to the disciplines—especially law, theology, and philosophy—and to understand how their ways of being Islamic are meaningful expressions and interpretations of Islamic institutions, concepts, principles and values. In this course we will also engage with the theories that scholars of religion in North America and Europe have used to analyze and interpret the various dimensions of Islamic mysticism. In doing so, we will examine the ways that perceptions of Sufism (and Islam more broadly) have been shaped by European theories, paradigms, and methods of interpretation and discuss their value for understanding Sufism and Islam. No pre-requisites; first-year students welcome.

Spring semester. Professor Jaffer.

How to handle overenrollment:

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Attention to speaking and writing.

ASLC 288 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 204
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 204


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Spring 2023