Courses

Queen's University offers a variety of courses that focus on themes related to the Muslim world. Course offerings vary from year to year. Please see the applicable Department website for current course offerings or check SOLUS. 

Courses

Undergraduate

HIST 267 The Modern Middle East

Ariel Salzmann, Winter 2023

An introduction to the multi-faceted history and cultural diversity of North Africa and Southwest Asia, a region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan. Using a variety of sources including historical documents, films, music and literature, the course explores the social coordinates, political dynamics, culture and chronology which are necessary to understand modern events (from WWI) and contemporary conflicts.

HIST 296 The Making of the Muslim Middle East (550-1350 C.E.)

Not offered in 2022-23

This course surveys the process by which the Middle East became predominantly Muslim while maintaining a cosmopolitan and plural social order—what I call "Islamicate" societies.  The story begins with the Late Antique world and the advent of Islam and continues until the aftermath of the devastating Mongol invasions, before the emergence of the Ottoman empire in the fifteenth century. The course will examine the myriad political, social, religious, cultural and intellectual transformations of the region through the Arab conquests, the establishment of a new Muslim empire on the foundations of ancient Near Eastern polities, and the process of forging a Muslim society and culture from its classical efflorescence through its medieval elaboration and extension from al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) to Central Asia. It will introduce students to Islamic civilization through a broad, interdisciplinary range of topics: political formations including empires, "slave" states, and Turkic tribal confederacies; the historical development of Islamic religious institutions, practices, doctrines, and literatures, their relationships to political authority and its legitimation, and the manifold sectarian and mystical movements of the region, including the challenge of Shi'ism to Sunni Islam and the spiritual aspirations of Sufism; social structures and their evolution; the historical content and context of intellectual and cultural productions including philosophy, theology, mysticism, literature, art and architecture; and the problem of medieval encounters with Christendom in the Levant and the Maghrib (the Muslim West in North Africa).

HIST 305 Muslim Societies

Not offered in 2022-23

This course uses History 296: the Making of the Muslim Middle East as a broad base from which to continue an exploration of various topics related to the historical experience of pre-modern Muslim societies. The course aims to develop skills of critical reading of historiography, primary source interpretation and analysis, and engagement in historical argumentation in writing and oral discussion in the special context of non-western, global and interdisciplinary contexts and perspectives. To accomplish this we will examine primary sources like Islamic religious writings, chronicles, philosophical treatises, literary and artistic productions, and cultural artifacts alongside scholarly studies and debates on major historical questions in the field, like the relationship between religious and political authority, cosmopolitanism and religious pluralism, urban society and social order, and the interrelationships between philosophy, theology and mysticism.

HIST 337 Multiculturalism in the Ottoman Empire

Ariel Salzmann, Summer 2022 and Winter 2023

The roots of modern-day Turkey lie in the foundations of the Ottoman Empire. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire, a Muslim dynastic state, ruled over much of southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. By the end of the 16th century, the empire counted the largest cities in the Mediterranean, in which Muslims represented only a portion of the population.  Eastern and Western denominations of Christianity were also present in the empire, from the Coptic Christians of Egypt and the Armenian villagers of the Persia frontier to the Protestant visitors residing in coastal entrepots and the Catholic monks of Cyprus. There were also significant communities of Sephardic and Arab Jews in such cities as Izmir, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Edirne. This course explores how Ottoman institutions integrated such diverse populations into a single polity and the ways in which these communities adapted to living with one another in multi-faith contexts. Students will have the opportunity to analyze and interpret accounts of the Ottoman Empire by contemporary Western European visitors who commented on these multireligious settings and on Islamic principles of toleration, both of which differed radically from their experiences at home in an age of religious wars, the Inquisition, and sectarian violence. The final third of the course will be devoted to discussions concerning the late empire: the impact of 19th century reforms, nationalism, and war on an increasingly fragile political order and its multireligious and multiethnic societies.

HIST 430 The Crusades and the Latin Kingdoms

Not offered in 2022-23

The crusades were among the most formative as well as dramatic episodes of the Middle Ages. While their history has been heavily romanticized or vilified over time, depending on the cultural perspective from which they are viewed, there can be no doubt that they brought people from the societies of medieval Western Europe into direct contact, often into violent conflict, but also into situations of significant cultural exchange with those, Muslim and Christian, of the Eastern Mediterranean. In doing so they forged new relationships, developed new attitudes and ideas, created new patterns of behaviour and thought. These would play a vital role in Western Europe and the Middle East during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries but would also continue to be of influence for centuries afterwards, even down to the present day. Study of the crusades has in recent years become one of the most vibrant topics in the discipline of history. This upper year seminar will give students the opportunity to examine key topics in the history and interpretation of the medieval Crusades both in the Middle East and Western Europe from the late eleventh to the late thirteenth centuries. The society established by the crusaders in the Eastern Mediterranean and its interactions both with the different peoples of the region and with those of Western Europe will also be studied in some depth, while students will also be encouraged to relate medieval crusading to relevant present day debates and issues. Stress will be placed on the use of original source material (in translation) and the development of research, analytical, writing, and communication skills of students in the upper years of a History concentration. The course will be of particular interest to students of the Middle Ages, the Middle East, Byzantium, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the history of Christianity and Islam.

HIST 449 Topics in Medieval Mediterranean History: Messiahs, Mystics, and Martyrs in Muslim and Jewish Religious Culture

Adnan Husain, Fall 2022

This course explores the interplay or “symbiosis” between Jews and Muslims, Judaism and Islam, to understand the religious identities and cultures of both and their mutual development from the time of Muhammad to the mysterious messiah and convert to Islam Sabbatai Zvi in the 17th century Ottoman empire. Among the key topics discussed are religious dissent, sectarianism, conversion, polemics, plagues and pandemics, politics, power, the treatment of religious minorities, and apocalyptic or messianic movements across the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean world. The course explores shared intellectual movements in philosophy, theology, and mysticism while investigating the tensions between traditional and text-based authority and popular rebellious movements based on charismatic leaders.

HIST 456 Islam in World History

Not offered in 2022-23

An advanced study of a particular topic on the Islamic world and/or Muslim diaspora in relation to a global historiographical theme, whether religion and state, gender, migration, war, cosmopolitanism, or other issues.

RELS 226 Islam

Not offered in 2022-23

Historical and topical survey of Islam, its development through the study of its rise, institutionalization of its beliefs and practices, formation of its theology, law, mysticism; as well as its modern interpretations and practices.

RELS 296 Islam in Canada

Shobhana Xavier, Fall 2021

This course examines the historical and contemporary expressions of Islam in Canada. Starting from early Muslim migrants to Canada to current issues of media representations, Islamophobia, and gender and sexuality, as they are unfolding in Canadian contexts for Muslims. 

RELS 326 Religion and Politics in Muslim Societies

Forough Jahanbakhsh, Fall 2021

The interaction of religion and politics has becomes a global phenomenon of the modern time. Studying the nature of this interaction raises fundamental questions of 'why' and 'how' this is happening. This course explores the interaction of religion and politics in Muslim societies. The objective of this course is to examine these questions and situate the debates in their relevant historical background. By the end of the course, students should have acquired appropriate knowledge to be able to recognize 'the variability of the politics of religion' in order to 'critically' analyse cases and everyday events related to religion and politics in an informed and educated manner. Case studies span from the Far East to Latin America and Muslim minorities in Europe.

RELS 396 Islam in the Modern World

Not offered in 2021-22

Exploration of Islamic developments since the 19th century: major thinkers, trends of thought, and contemporary movements as responses to modernity.

ENGL 487-001 Contemporary Muslim Literature

Not offered in 2021-22

This course is designed to introduce students to the growing body of writing by and about Muslims as a diverse but distinctive diasporic group, particularly in North America and Europe. Our objective is to gain a more complex understanding of Muslim identities by examining how Muslims represent themselves as well as the contexts in which they write. Thus, the course will focus on experiences of colonization, occupation, war, immigration, citizenship, racialization and  racism, and the consequences of 9/11 in shaping Muslim lives. In particular, this course explores the complex and conflicting attitudes and practices around gender and sexuality that inform Muslim identities as well as how Muslims are perceived by non-Muslims. The course will thus address contemporary debates bout hijab and niqab in Canada and elsewhere. In addition to literary texts such as novels, memoir, poetry, plays, and film, this course demands intensive engagement with theoretical and historiographical texts. Some authors include: Lela Aboulela, Monica Ali, Nafisa Haji, Mohja Kahf, Yussef El-Guindi, Amina Wadud.

GNDS 365 Gender Dialogues: Jewish and Muslim Experiences

The global and historical scope of Jewish and Muslim experiences provide rich contexts within which to explore the many and varied meanings that sex and gender can manifest in practice and material culture. Intersectional analyses and multidisciplinary methods inform course design and discussions of artifacts, texts, popular culture, social history and practices. This, in turn, enables a more nuanced exploration of relevant social justice questions. The instructors’ encounters with each other and with cultures more and less familiar to them represent an invitation for students to engage in dialogue with the subjects they encounter through the course. The course emphasizes diversity within as well as across Muslim cultures and Jewish cultures. Similarities as well as differences are equally important threads in our cross-cultural conversations.

GNDS 401 Debates on Feminism and Islam

This course focuses on the theories, political activities, and organizing of Islamic feminists. It situates itself in relation to contemporary debates around the status of women in Islam and problematizes the nature of feminism and its assumed relationship to Islam. The course will focus on questions of religion, race, class, and nationalism in relation to Islam and Muslim women. This course contains an intensive and independent study component.

DEVS 395 War of Dreams: Social Movements of the Middle East Today

This course focuses on the insurrectionary movements for social change that are currently sweeping across the Middle East, from Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya to Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These movements have been variously referred to as ‘the Arab Spring’ or the ‘Islamist Winter’. In order to better understand them we will trace their roots in Middle Eastern history, European colonialism and resulting anti-colonial struggles, looking at the theory and practice of current and previous social movements, as well as the relevance of Islam, in both local and global contexts.

Graduate

HIST 801 Religious Identity, Dissidence and Interaction in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean

Not offered in 2022-23

This course examines the formation of religious identities and confessional cultures in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean world, including Muslim, Byzantine and Latin societies. It approaches these issues from two complementary vantages, examining intra and inter-religious difference. The course investigates the construction of religious orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, the nature of dissent, controversy and "heresy" in Muslim and Christian religious cultures. Likewise, it examines interreligious relations and experiences among Muslims, Christians and Jews and the treatment of religious minorities in the Mediterranean. It explores the possibility of an interplay between these two processes historically in the Mediterranean world in order to understand the consequences on religious and political cultures and identities. Three term hours; fall and winter.

HIST 812 Selected Topics: Topics in Medieval Mediterranean History

Adnan Husain, Fall 2022

What did it mean to be a Christian, a Jew or a Muslim in the pre-modern period? How was this experience shaped by an awareness of religious difference in a pluralistic world of the Mediterranean? What did interaction, exchange, and encounter with other religious communities and their traditions contribute to a sense of religious identity? How this did sense of religious identity develop and change over this period? These are starting points for an inquiry into the encounters of Christians, Muslims and Jews across the Medieval Mediterranean world from Iberia to the Levant through: pilgrimage, commercial trade, diplomatic exchange, crusade and conquest, social co-existence in plural societies, translation of scientific, philosophical and religious texts, missionary preaching, literary and artistic representations, and polemical treatises and disputation.  The course will focus on the intellectual and religious cultures in dialogic and dialectical relationship but with attention to the economic and political conditions underpinning a shared but contested world of the Mediterranean. May be offered jointly with HIST 449. 

HIST 828 The Crusades and the Latin Kingdoms

Not offered in 2022-23

An exploration of key topics in the history and interpretation of the medieval Crusades. The society and culture of the Latin kingdoms will be studied, as will the impact of the Crusades on the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, both Muslim and Christian. Three term hours; fall and winter.

RELS 896 Islam In The Modern World

Exploration of Islamic developments since the 19th century: major thinkers, trends of thought and contemporary movements as responses to modernity.

GNDS 831 Debates on Feminism and Islam

This course focuses on the theories, political activities, and organizing of Islamic feminists. It situates itself in relation to contemporary debates around the status of women in Islam and problematizes the nature of feminism and its assumed relationship to Islam. The course will focus on questions of religion, race, class, and nationalism in relation to Islam and Muslim women. This course contains an intensive and independent study component.

Language

ARAB 100 Modern Standard Arabic, Level 1 

Introduction to the basic structures of Modern Standard Arabic. This course gives intensive training equally in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In addition to three hours of classroom work and one hour tutorial, extensive use of audio-visual materials on CD-ROM is expected.

ARAB 200 Modern Standard Arabic, Level 2

This intensive intermediate-level course is designed to provide a review of the basic elements of Modern Standard Arabic and continues the development of students’ communicative skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking Arabic. It will offer an introduction to more complex syntactic and grammatical forms and structures, preparing students for carrying on a simple conversation, reading an intermediate level text, and understanding basic conversations.