62-008 Religion: Islam and Christianity
second cycle master study programme Political Science
Course Supervisor: Assist. Prof. Primož Šterbenc
Relations between the West and the
Muslim World have for several years been very strained, due to the 9/11
destructive terrorist attack in the United States, the US-led attacks on
Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, and subsequent American occupations of
both countries. In addition, in recent years there have been other important
developments in the Middle East. Ever since 2011 the process of »Arab spring«
has considerably shaken the region, also causing destructive war in Syria. In
2014 the ultra-radical Islamist group »Islamic State« emerged and it has been
controlling considerable territory in Iraq and Syria, promoting aggressive
interpretation of Islamic law, and slaughtering Shiites, Christians and Yazidis.
The coalition of countries led by the US has been striving to defeat the Islamic
State while several painful terrorist attacks occured in Europe. Moreover,
radical Islamist groups have been operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan
(Taliban), Somalia (al-Shabab), and Nigeria (Boko Haram).
The course »Religion: Christianity and Islam« is aimed at enabling students to comprehensively understand relations between the West and the Muslim World as well as developments in the Muslim World. Students will be familiar with Christianity and Islam, more specifically, with religious-theological, social, legal and (para)political dimensions of both religions. Furthermore, they will gain insight into development of relations between the Christian and the Muslim Worlds throughout history, including most neuralgic points like the Crusades, colonialism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Western military interventions in the Muslim World since the second World War. Students will grasp divison within Islam into Sunni and Shia branches as well as divisions within both branches since without this knowledge one cannot understand events in the Middle East after the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003, let alone complex conflict in Syria. Finally, students will be familiar with relevant findings of sociology of religion and political science which one needs to apply to relations between the West and the Muslim World in order to understand seemingly unfathomable events, for example suicidal attacks on civilians. All in all, students will be able to comprehend complex issues and to transcend conventional simplistic (also media) explanations by relying on their own knowledge.