Religion: Islam and Christianity

62-048  Religion: Islam and Christianity

second cycle Master degree study programme Political Science

Course Supervisor: Assist. Prof. Primož Šterbenc

  Content

The course deals with Islam, its main characteristics, division of Islam into different branches and (sub)groups, and sociopolitical develpment of the Muslim world throughout history. Furthermore, it deals with Christianity, its main characteristics and division into different groups. In addition, it regards position of Christianity in Islamic theological doctrine and attitude of Muslims towards Christian communities in the Muslim world. The course defines main points of conlict between the Muslim and the Christian (Western) worlds throughout history and analyses political as well as socioeconomic elements which in the present time mainly influence relations between the two worlds. In this regard, one has to take into account structural framework which was set up in the period of colonialism. Against this background, the course also provides explanation of possible unconventional, political role of religion. Finally, it deals with relations between Sunnis and Shiites throughout history and in the present time, also as a consequence of interactions between the Muslim and the Christian (Western) worlds.
Themes:

  • Definition of religion and its main functions.
  • Islam: origin and theological, political and social characteristics.
  • Christianity: origin and theological, political and social characteristics; division into different groups (early Christianity and divisions based on Christological disputes; Catholicism, Orthodox churches, Protestantism.
  • Division of Islam into different branches (Sunnis, Shiites, Kharijites); main political and theological differences between Sunnism and Shiism; division within branches into groups (Shiism) and legal schools (Sunnism).
  • Development of the Muslim world throughout history in the form of specific sociopolitical systems – caliphates.
  • Position of Christianity in Islamic doctrine (theological similarities and differences) and attitude of Muslim authorities towards Christian communities in the Muslim world.
  • Main points of conflict between the Muslim and the Christian (Western) worlds throughout history (the Crusades, colonialism-imperialism) and structural consequences of the colonial period (structural theory of international relations).
  • Most important elements in terms of quality of relations between the Muslim and the Christian (Western) worlds in the present time (Palestine, aggressive interventions of the Christian-Western world in the Muslim world, Western enforcement of neoliberal socioeconomic paradigm, globalization and disregard of special cultural identity); application of the concept of cultural defence.
  • Relations between Sunnis and Shiites troughout history; lasting influence of the non-Muslim interventions in the Muslim world (the Crusaders, the Mongols, colonialism).
  • Relations between Sunnis and Shiites in the present time; influence of the US-led attack on Iraq (2003) on those relations; Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq from a standpoint of different approaches concerning role of religion in outbreak of violence (primordialism, instrumentalism, constructivism) and application of the concept of cosmic war; civil war in Syria.

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