The Muslim world extends across an immense area of the globe that includes widely diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious traditions. In the centuries following their initial movement out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century, Muslims dispersed from Europe to China, and eventually around the world. As they did so, Muslims individually and collectively continued to develop various practices as well as theological, legal, literary, artistic, and mystical traditions that in some cases were heavily influenced by the local cultures and religions they encountered, and in others, extremely resistant to them.
The Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition (CTSMT) area seeks to examine different regions of the Muslim world by focusing on the texts, practices, rituals, ideas, and other forms of Muslim religious meaning as they have developed over the course of history. While traditional Islamic Studies programs tend to encourage students to focus on only one region or one aspect of Muslim thought or action, the goal of CTSMT is to highlight the diversity of Muslim thought and practice by training students in the methods and theories of comparative religions in combination with anthropological methods of studying the transnational dimension of religion.