Skip to main content

Online Learning

Course Number: CH 682
Course Title: Islam through Catholic Eyes
Term: Fall 2014

Professors: Msgr. Michael Witt and Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP

mwitt@holyapostles.edu and smahfood@holyapostles.edu

1. Course Description

This course will endeavor to explore the relationship between Christianity and Islam beginning with Nostra Aetate’s statement below and compare this relationship with the myriad ways in which Catholicism encounters Islam in the world.

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. (Nostra Aetate, § 3).

2. Envisioned Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate an appreciation for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Islamic world.
  2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of contemporary Islamic society through its history, traditions, literature, and statement of faith:

“There is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is his Messenger” – the Islamic Shahada

3. Course Schedule

Week 1: What is Islam? The Muslim Definition. The Catholic Truth of Islam.

Lectures:

  • “Putting a Billion People in a Nutshell” by Msgr. Michael Witt

Readings:

Activities:

  • Introduce self on discussion board: who are you, and what has prompted your interest in this class?

Week 2:  The Christian and Byzantine World at the Birth of Mohammed

Lectures:

Witt, Michael J. Medieval Church History

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: XI-XX, 3-22.
  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006:1-40.
  • "The Passion of Eesa" -- YouTube.com
  • Mhanna, Andre. "A Priest and a Prophet: A Study on the Origin of Islam and Its Christian Roots"

Activities:

  • Qur’anic Exercise I – Meccan vs. Medinan texts.
  • Discuss the Christological heresy grounded in Islam that Christ is the Messiah but not God.

Week 3:  The Message of the Prophet and the Four Caliphs

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Medieval Church History

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: 23-74.
  • "Islam: Empire of Faith -- The Messenger" - YouTube.com

Activities:

  • Pose three questions you have from the materials to which you’ve been exposed so far. Try to answer one question that a classmate has posted.

Week 4: Islamic Scholasticism: Paving the Way for St. Thomas

      Lectures:

  • Mahfood, Sebastian P. From Al-Kindi to Averroes (801-1198 AD)

Readings:

Activities:

  • Choose one of the five major Arabic philosophers (Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al-Ghazali, and Ibn Rushd) and pose a question concerning him. Answer one question that a classmate has posted.

Week 5:  Conquest: From the Invasion of Spain to the Conversion of the Turks

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Medieval Church History

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: 75-139.
  • "Islam: Empire of Faith -- The Awakening" - YouTube.com

Activities:

  • Post research topic for semester project.
  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.

Week 6:  Cross v. Crescent: The Crusades

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Medieval Church History

Readings:

  • "Compilation of Western Film Clips on the Crusades" -- YouTube.com
  • "2nd Compilation of Western Film Clips" -- YouTube.com

Activities:

  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.

Week 7:  Paradox: Judaism and Christianity in the Qu'ran

Lectures:

  • Our Abrahamic Brethren

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: 140-219.
  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006:41-77.

Activities:

  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.

Week 8:  Battle for the Mediterranean and the World: What Went Wrong

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History

Readings:

  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006: 173-249.

Activities:

  • Project Resource List Due
  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.


Week 9: Western Imperialism or Global Christian Evangelization?

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History 49, 50

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: 220-248.
  • Said, Edward. Covering Islam. New York: Vintage Books, 1997: 162-173.

Activities:

  • Post Resource List for semester project.
  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.

Week 10: The First World War and Pan-Arab Dreaming

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History

Readings:

  • Read first half of chosen novel.

Activities:

  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.
  • Post which book you’re reading and what your initial impressions are at the halfway point in the book.

Week 11: Secularism and the Muslim Brotherhood

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History

Readings:

  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006: 113-172.
  • Read second half of chosen novel.

Activities:

  • Semester Projects Due.
  • Post a 300-word response to what you perceive to be a central aspect of this week’s materials. Reply to another student’s post.
  • Post your final impressions as you complete the book.

Week 12: Twentieth Century Expressions I

Lectures:

  • Postcolonial Islamic Literature

Readings:

  • Fanon, Franz. Excerpt from A Dying Colonialism by ("Voice of Algeria")
  • HistoryChannel.com "Jean Baillard on the Algerian War"

Activities:

  • A discussion of the novels.
  • Peer interaction on semester projects.

Week 13: Qutb, Mawdudi, and Radical Islamists: The New Caliphate Dream

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History

Readings:

  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York:  Random House, 2005: 249-266.
  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006: 251-280.

Activities:

  • 5-page Article Review (summary/reflection) due by Saturday midnight

Week 14: Shi'ah Ascendancy

Lectures:

  • The rise of Shi’ism and the conflicts with Sunni Islam

Readings:

  • Greaves, Ron. Aspects of Islam. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown University Press, 2005: 96-117.
  • "Shah Flees Iran" HistoryChannel.com (52 secs)
  • "Ayatollah Arrives in Iran" HistoryChannel.com (51 secs)

Activities:

  • Discussion of Sunni/Shi’a relations on discussion board.

Week 15: Can We All Live Together?

Lectures:

  • Witt, Michael J. Modern Church History 80

Readings:

  • Mhanna, Andre. "The Prospects for Co-Existence of these Two Religions in the Third Millennium"
  • Rauf, Imam Feisal. What’s Right with Islam. New York: Harper One, 2006: 281-284.

Activities:

  • 2- to 3-page analysis of semester project topic due

4. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  • Discussion Postings – 25%
  • Semester Project – 50%
  • Article Review – 25%

Semester Project – Incremental due dates (see below)

Concerning the semester project, the following schedule applies:

  1. Pick a research topic on some aspect of current events (Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, the United States, Somalia, England, Bosnia, Iraq, etc.) in the Islamic world by midnight Saturday, Week 4
  2. Provide a list of the resources you’re using to develop it by midnight Saturday, Week 7 (make sure to use the HACS citation guidelines in the development of your bibliographies) – include one of the recommended novels or select your own, two of the suggested readings, and three sources outside those on this syllabus, one of which may be used for your article review that’s due Week 12.
  3. Develop a presentation for class via a blog, PowerPoint, or video, etc., on your topic by midnight Sunday, Week 10
  4. Write up a 2- to 3-page analysis of your topic by midnight Friday, Week 14.

These dates are meant to help pace you through the project, but you can do any of the parts in advance if you like.

Article Review - Due by Saturday midnight of week 12.

Find one article in the HACS online databases pertaining to any aspect of the course and write a 3- to 5-page summary reflection. A rubric for this will be provided in the course.

First four verses of the Qur’an:

In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful./  [All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds / The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.

5. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

  • Ali, Abdullah Yusuf. The Holy Qu’ran. Hertfordshire, England: Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 2001, ISBN-13: 978-1853267826 List Price $4
  • Aslan, Reza. No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York: Random House, 2005, ISBN-13: 978-1400062133 List price $8.48
  • Rauf, Feisal Abdul. What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West. New York: HarperOne, 2004, ISBN-13: 978-0060582722 List price $ 14.69
  • Messages for the End of Ramadan, from the Pontifical Concil for Interreligious Dialogue
  • Nostra Aetate
  • Joseph Azzi. A Christian Point of View about Islam. Available as a free download within the course site.

Choose one from among the following or any other novel by a Muslim from a different region or era. This does not need to be purchased, can be borrow from a local library.

  • Al-Shaykh, Hanan. Beirut Blues. New Kensington, PA: Anchor Publishing, 1996.
  • Ba, Mariama. So Long a Letter. Trans. Modupe Bode-Thomas. Oxford and Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1989, 1980 (African Writers Series).
  • Faiz, Faiz Ahmed. Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems. Trans. Agha Shahid Ali. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995, 1991.
  • Farah, Nuruddin. Sweet and Sour Milk. St. Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1992, 1979.
  • Laye, Camara. The Dark Child. Trans. James Kirkup. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1954.
  • Mahfouz, Naguib. Sugar Street. Trans. William Maynard Hutchins and Angele Botros Samaan. New Kensington, PA: Anchor Publishing, 1992, 1957.
  • Rushdie, Salman. Shalimar the Clown. New York: Random House, 2005.

6. SUGGESTED READINGS and RESOURCES:

  • Ali, Abdullah Yusuf .The Meaning of the Holy Quran. Beltsville, MD. Amana Publications, 2004.
  • Ali, Daniel, and Robert Spencer. Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics. Westchester: Ascension Press, 2003.
  • Ali-Karamali, Sumbul. The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and That Veil Thing. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 2008.
  • Ali, Mualana Muhammed. The Holy Qur'an with English Translation and Commentary. Wembley, UK: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat, 1991.
  • Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. New York:  Modern Library, 2002.
  • Bergen, Peter L. Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden. New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2001.
  • Egev, Tom. One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000.
  • Greaves, Ron. Aspects of Islam. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown University Press, 2005.
  • Ibrahim, Raymond. The Al-Qaeda Reader. New York: Doubleday, 2007.
  • Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Kepel, Gilles. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. Cambridge, Ma:  Belknap, 2002.
  • Kreeft, Peter. Between Allah & Jesus: What Christians Can Learn from Muslims. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010.
  • Lewis, Bernard. What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity. New York: HarperOne, 2002.
  • Nasr, Vali. The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will Shape the Future. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.
  • Pope Paul VI. Nostra Aetate. October 28, 1965. Online at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents...
  • Posner, Gerald. Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. New York:  Random House, 2003.
  • Ovendale, Ritchie. The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Wars. London: Longman, 1985.
  • Said, Edward. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Vintage, 1997.
  • __________. On Orientalism-Edward Said. YouTube video online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw
  • __________. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979.
  • Spencer, Robert. Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We're In. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2014.
  • Steyn, Mark. America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2006.
  • Weigel, George. The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics without God. New York:  Basic Books, 2005.
  • __________. God’s Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church. New York:  HarperCollins, 2005. (especially, Chapter 6, “Into the Future.”)
  • Ye’or, Bat. Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis. Madison:  Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005.

7. EVALUATION

Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl).

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Semester Project (SP), Article Review (AR), and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

0 pts. – SP/AR
0 pts. – DB Posting;

3 pts. – SP/AR
2 pts. – DB Posting;

6 pts. – SP/AR
4 pts. – DB Posting;

9 pts. – SP/AR
6 pts. – DB Posting;

12 pts. – SP/AR
8 pts. – DB Posting;

15 pts. – SP/AR
10 pts. – DB Posting;

 

CONTENT

Absence of Understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as the relate to the topic

Lack of Understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of  concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connec-tions to other con-cepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.

 

RESEARCH

Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format

 

WRITING & EXPRESSION

Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering;  simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment;  satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples;  level-appropriate syntax and diction;  mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development ; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage

 

COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development

 

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

11. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSORS

Msgr. Michael Witt is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Professor of Church History at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. He holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History from Saint Louis University. Among his publications include a 160-hour audio tour through Church history from the Patristics era to the present day – located online at www.michaeljohnwitt.com.

He is pastor at All Saints Parish in University City, Missouri.

http://api.ning.com/files/f*Gzdwtp6M5Re8o3PzPFiPUajUxicViIOTyMqhayDiWopcuKttOnnpbSXjOyHq3S2TFkx7SzaYQtRIT35BKKeSBvxNG9VuBC/sebbw.jpgDr. Sebastian Mahfood, OP, Vice-President of Administration at Holy Apostles College & Seminary, is a Lay Dominican of the Chapter of the Holy Rosary in the Central Province of St. Albert the Great. Dr. Mahfood holds a master’s in comparative literature from the University of Texas at Arlington, a master’s in philosophy and a master’s in theology from Holy Apostles College & Seminary, a master’s in educational technology from Webster University and a doctorate in postcolonial literature and theory from Saint Louis University. Among his publications include his book Radical Eschatologies: Embracing the Eschaton in the Works of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Nuruddin Farah, and Ayi Kwei Armah.

He lives in St. Louis with his wife, Dr. Stephanie Mahfood, and children, Alexander and Eva Ruth.

(860) 632-3010