Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies First Year Courses

Colgate offers both a major and a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MIST). The MIST program focuses on the Middle East and North Africa while also studying the wider Islamic world. It provides students with an understanding of the origins and development of the Islamic faith in its heartland, as well as an awareness of the multi-cultural and dynamic character of modern Islam. It also trains students in the history, culture, politics, and political economy of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world.

The area encompassed by this program spans the Middle East, North Africa, North American, Europe, and East Asia. It contains an extraordinary variety of linguistic and ethnic groups such as Arabs, Iranians, Turkic peoples, Kurds, Baluchis, Malays, and others. This globe is home to over 1.4 billion Muslims, who constitute more than one fifth of the world’s population. It is the source of a rich religious and intellectual tradition that emerged from the same roots as the Western tradition and evolved over a long history of interaction with the West. It also plays an important role in global peace, security, and prosperity. These demographic, cultural, and strategic considerations will lead to a steady increase in contact between the Islamic world and the West in the future. The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program equips Colgate students with the knowledge and conceptual tools needed to understand and manage this relationship.

The themes addressed by the program include the history and development of the Islamic faith; colonialism and its impact on the cultures, economies, and polities of the region; the rise of nationalism and its relationship to tribal, religious, and ethnic identities; the emergence and impact of political Islam; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the prospects for democratization; and United States foreign policy toward the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world.

Courses

As the world's fourth most populous country, modern Indonesia is home to over 260 million religiously and ethnically diverse individuals. Despite its substantial population and rich regional cultures, Indonesia is often overlooked both in American popular discourse and at American universities. This course pushes back against this unfortunate pattern of neglect. Students approach Indonesia as a valuable window into a whole host of global issues including: the legacy of European colonialism, the complexities of nation-building, cultural evolution, religious revivals, literature and the arts, economic development, and climate change. The vibrancy and paradoxes of modern Indonesian lives are highlighted.

A multi-disciplinary introduction both to the region conventionally referred to as the Middle East, and also to the academic discipline of Middle Eastern Studies. In other words, it is a study of the people, religion, history, and culture of the region, and also about the politics of studying that region. One of the presuppositions is that a careful, rigorous, and critical study of cultural studies can help one understand one’s own assumptions, presuppositions, etc. Among the topics students examine are the multiple interpretations of religion, including sects within Islam, that exist in the region; a variety of cultural practices and various languages; and the effect of imperialism and colonialism on the area. Readings include what current native commentators are saying on cultural, economic, and social debates.

Teach modern Hebrew as spoken in Israel and are designed for students who are interested in developing oral and written Hebrew skills. The course is helpful to those who are interested in deeper knowledge of Jewish culture and wish to improve their knowledge of Hebrew for religious studies. Designed for students with no previous Hebrew background and students who have learned to read phonetically without comprehension.

Teach modern Hebrew as spoken in Israel and are designed for students who are interested in developing oral and written Hebrew skills. The course is helpful to those who are interested in deeper knowledge of Jewish culture and wish to improve their knowledge of Hebrew for religious studies. Designed for students who have completed HEBR 121 or have equivalent knowledge.

Continuing course for students who have completed HEBR 122 and for students with equivalent or advanced knowledge of modern Hebrew. These courses aim at enhancing the students' reading, writing, comprehension, and speaking skills and involve extensive teaching of grammar. Instruction tools include audiovisual materials, popular texts, Israeli newspapers, and exercises in the language laboratory.

Surveys the history of South Asian from the expansion of the Mughal Empire in the early modern period and the rise of the British colonial power in the 18th and 19th centuries to the emergences of modern nation states. The course also looks at the different political, economic, and cultural trajectories that these nation states, particularly India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, have taken since independence. With the aim of developing a historical perspective to the complex and often paradoxical social, religious, and political identities that the region of South Asia exhibits today, this course introduces students to a diverse set of primary sources ranging from Mughal court chronicles, European travel accounts and autobiographies to public speeches and official correspondences. Although this course complements the survey of the ancient and medieval history of South Asia taught in HIST 268, no prior background in South Asian history is required. (AS)

Offers elementary training in the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing through intensive training in the phonology and script of Modern Standard Arabic and its basic vocabulary and fundamental structure. There is a focus on simple interactive communicative tasks involving teacher with students and students among themselves. Basic grammar is taught through reading, writing, and speaking drills in conjunction with the formal exercises in the text. This training is supplemented with simple lessons on interpersonal transactions and cultural contexts.

An introduction to Middle Eastern politics, including historical foundations of the modern Middle East, competing strategies of state building, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Gulf War, the rise of political Islam, and American policy toward the region.

An introduction to Middle Eastern politics, including historical foundations of the modern Middle East, competing strategies of state building, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Gulf War, the rise of political Islam, and American policy toward the region. (CO)

In the desert landscape of 7th century Arabia, a middle-aged Arab tribesman and caravan trader named Muhammad began to hear the word of God and declared himself a prophet. Within decades, Muhammad’s message sparked a religious and social revolution that changed the course of human history. Students examine the rise of Islam, its emergence as a diverse global religion, and its multi-faceted encounters with Western-style modernity. Students begin by studying the Qur’an, the life of Muhammad, and the stories of his immediate successors. Who exactly was Muhammad, and what was the nature of his message? What challenges did the early Muslim community face? Following our exploration of the earliest phases of Islamic history, students then delve into the formation of two major streams of Islamic thought: shari’a (Islamic law) and Sufism (Islamic mysticism). The final third of the semester focuses on Muslim responses to European colonialism and Western-style modernity. Specifically, we examine colonial-era changes to shari’a, the Iranian Revolution, the rise of violent Islamists like Al Qaeda and ISIS, and modern Muslims living in the West.