Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition

Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition

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.

This exam is divided into two sections:

  1. Islamic History from Origins to 1258
  2. Islamic History from 1258 to Present

It is based on an established bibliography of standard texts considered by the faculty to be “foundational” to the field. Specific topical foci for each exam are subject to agreement between you and the examiner.

This exam requires you to apply the theories and methods of Comparative Religion to particular Muslim phenomena (textual or ethnographic) as they exist in two different areas or time periods. The text or ethnographic moment will be assigned to you prior to the exam and you will respond to a specific question that will focus on using the methods and theories developed during the course of study to understand the religious meaning of the phenomena in question.

The exam requires you to exhibit their familiarity and comprehension of anthropological theorizing and empirical methods relevant to the study of a set of religious phenomena and/or practices in two separate ethnographic settings. You will have to demonstrate that you have a sense of how to pragmatically and analytically approach the phenomenon in question, as well as of the body of theoretical literature to which its exploration would contribute.

You are to choose an area of interest that will, in the dissertation phase of your research, become the central topic or issue for analysis. Topics can include, but are not limited to, Islamic law, theology, sacred biography, ritual, practice, art, media, mysticism, etc.; and issues can include examinations of how Muslims have addressed problems such as war, poverty, trade, migration, AIDS, identity, conversion, and so forth. Bibliographies for the exam will be developed in consultation with the examiner and should address the most pertinent aspects of the topic for the prospective dissertation.

The outside area exam will be based on a bibliography developed in conjunction with the advisor in your minor department.

Meet the faculty

These are the core faculty who support this area of study:

Kevin JaquesDepartment of Religious Studies

Rebecca ManringDepartment of Religious Studies

Aaron StalnakerDepartment of Religious Studies