Harold Rosen

phone 778-782-8000, or learn@sfu.ca or online sfu.ca/liberal-arts


6 Saturday afternoons, 12:30 to 2:20pm, October 29 to December 3, 2016


SFU Continuing Studies – 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3


$110 (for adults 55+) or $169

Course Description:

Islam is a great world religion which gave rise to a lofty, expansive civilization. We will explore some positive and universal legacies of Islam, which include: Abraham’s extended family, a story of hope and promise amidst cultural and religious diversity; Muhammad as a Prophet of peace, uniting previously hostile tribes and guiding Arabia as a new spiritual nation; the Qur’an’s power to elevate the mind, polish the heart, activate the creative spirit, and educate a vast multicultural society; Islamic philosophy, theology, law and spirituality as vigorous quests for wisdom, understanding, justice and moral development; peaks of Islamic civilization and cultural refinement in Spain, Egypt, Persia, Turkey and India; and Islamic Reform as an unfolding dimension of modern and contemporary developments. An open-minded look at these clear bounties to humanity will provide a more just and productive outlook on Islam today and on our world’s current challenges and prospects.

1 - Abraham’s Extended Family – Muslims embrace Abraham as the founder of monotheistic faith, revering him as a bearer of blessings for all of humanity, respecting the lineages of his three wives and the five world religions which developed through them –all this giving Islam deeper historic roots and more universal application than commonly understood in the West.

2 – Muhammad as a Prophet of Peace – The peace and unity teachings of Muhammad are also not well-known in the West, nor his advanced ‘just-war’ guidelines and emphasis on moral-spiritual jihad, nor his institutional support and protection of Christians and Jews – legacies which can diminish our anti-Islamic prejudices.

3 – The Qur’an’s Transformative Power – The compositional order of the Qur’an is neither thematic, nor sequentially narrative, nor historical; and therefore its moral-spiritual beauty and potency are usually hidden from Western readers; but we attempt to penetrate these barriers, and initiate a respectful approach to the Qur’an’s creative power.

4 – Islamic Philosophy, Theology, Law and Spirituality – Islam’s masterpieces of scholarship, rational exploration, scriptural interpretation; its wide-ranging and detailed systems of jurisprudence; and its mystical and searching poetry – are usually under-appreciated by Western audiences, but we attempt a fair appraisal.

5 – Islamic Civilization’s Heights in Spain, Egypt, Persia, Turkey and India – Glimpses of the cultural peaks attained in such Islamic cities as Cordova, Seville, Cairo, Baghdad, Isfahan and New Delhi – all amaze Western reviewers – as do the historic achievements of Islamic rulers such as Abdur-Rahman II, Harun Al-Rashid, Sulayman the Magnificent, Abbas the Great, and Akbar the Great.

6 – Islamic Reform as a Contributor to Modernity and Today’s World – To conclude our survey of some of Islam’s constructive legacies, we listen to the high-minded teachings of such Muslim reformers as Muhammad Abduh and Muhammad Iqbal, as well as some feminist, pacifist and universalist voices among today’s global-minded Muslims.