This course provides an overview of one type of religious terrorism that currently constitutes one of the principal national security threats to the US and its allies. Students taking this class will be able to explain the doctrinal characteristics of Islamism – a radical anti-Western political ideology – and compare it both to Islam in general and to broader currents of Muslim traditionalism (including pious quietist movements) and fundamentalism (such as the official Saudi Wahhabi doctrine). They will be able to identify the historical factors leading to the development and rise of Islamism and list the ideas advocated by leading Islamist theorists (e.g., Sayyid Qutb, Maududi, al-Faraj, and others). Students will also be able to describe the sociological make-up of Islamist movements and the leading Sunni and Shi`i Islamist groups. The terrorist groups surveyed include Shi’i groups such as Hizb’allah in Lebanon and Sunni groups such as the Islamic Group, the Jihad Organization, and Excommunication and Exile in Egypt; the Armed Islamic Group and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Fighting in Algeria; HAMAS and Islamic Jihad in Palestine; Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; al-Qa`ida; Chechen groups; and similar groups elsewhere in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia, as well as their front groups operating in Europe and North America.
Research the origins and reforms of Islam
Assess social and political environments both historical and modern that influenced secular nationalism and Islamic theology hold in the Muslim world
Identify the theological principles and political arguments that counter radicals used to justify a global jihad
Explain in an ethical and professional manner
Demonstrate appropriate communications skills on the topic of Islam
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