Category Archives: Lectures (Islam)

This category includes information I have taught in lectures on Islam… it is meant to be a very basic introduction.

Very Basic Introduction to Islam

Information/terms to assist you with the reading (I created this brief summary for my NRM students who needed some supplemental background information regarding why many American NRMs were invoking terms sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and what these concepts signified for the older “mother” traditions.)

A. Quick Introduction to Islam: Islam (the root word) means “submission” or “surrender”. Islam requires surrender to the one god, Allah, the god of Abraham. Muslims are those who submit to Allah and follow His prophets .Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last of God’s prophets, the seal of the prophets.

Not all Muslims are Arab, not all Arabs are Muslims, Muslims live all over the world.  Muhammad, according to Islam, came to re-establish the monotheism of Abraham. Muhammad, although greatly revered, is just the messenger … he is human, not divine, he is the instrument through which the word of God… the Qur’an came to earth. Muslims believe that Allah (Arabic name for the one creator God) sent revelations (in Arabic) to Muhammad, just as Allah had sent previous messages. These revelations are referred to as The Qur’an (also spelled Koran) and it is thought to be the literal voice of Allah speaking to mankind. The Qur’an contains references to important individuals in other Abrahamic religious traditions… such as Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Prophet Muhammad (570-632 c.e.) was born in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia). He was born into a powerful tribe in that area called the Quraysh. Mecca was a site of pilgrimage for many tribes around Mecca, the tribes would come to Mecca to worship their idols in the Kaaba, a large rectangular building believed by many Muslims to have been built by Abraham. Mecca was a powerful and wealthy trading center due to its religious significance. Muhammad accompanied his uncle on trade routes and became a well-respected merchant and caravan driver. His nickname was al-amin (the trustworthy). He worked for a wealthy widow who later became his 1st wife, Khadijah. Muhammad was a monotheist, he often spent time on spiritual retreat on Mt. Hira. During one of these retreats, when Muhammad was 40 years old, he has a vision of the angel Gabriel (Jibril, in Arabic). Gabriel tells Muhammad that he has been chosen by Allah to be a prophet to his people. This is the beginning of the transmission of the revelations of the holy Qur’an in Islam. These revelations come to Muhammad over 22-23 years until the time of his death.

Muhammad begins telling close friends and relatives about the revelations. He builds up a small group of believers around him. Muhammad preached monotheism… and as his small group of believers grew… the more the Quraysh, the large tribe of tribes, worried that if this monotheism spread the less the surrounding tribes will come to Mecca to worship idols in the kaaba. In 619 c.e. , Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and the uncle who had raised him and protected him from the wrath of the Quraysh, Abu Talib, both died (this year is known as the “year of sorrows”). Muhammad and his followers faced intimidation, rejection, and out right assault from powerful Meccans that saw Muhammad and his followers as threats to polytheism in Mecca and the money that came from the various pilgrims visiting the Kaaba to worship their tribal gods. Muhammad and his community receive an invite to a small own called Yathrib… he decides to leave Mecca due to the hostility his followers faced.

The hijrah (emmigration) from Mecca to Yathrib (later called Medina which means “city of the Prophet) takes place in 622 c. e. and this marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In 630 c. e., Muhammad and the Muslims of Yathrib retake Mecca. Muhammad “cleanses” the Kaaba of idols and rededicates the Kaaba. Two years later (632 c.e.) Muhammad dies in Medina and the ummah (community of Muslims) elect Abu Bakr as the new community leader, according to Sunni Muslims (roughly 80% of the Muslim population). Abu Bakr becomes the first rightly-guided Caliph (leader of the Muslim community). The Shia (the other 20% of the Muslim community) believe that Muhammad had previously endorsed Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, before his death.

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New Religious Movements syllabus spring 2011



CRN: 17146 Spring 2011   Classroom: General Classroom 617  Instructor: Daley

Class times: 12-1:15 pm Mondays and Wednesdays

Office hours: 10-11 am Mondays and Wednesdays 

Office: room #1147  11th floor of 34 Peachtree Street     Contact:

Motto: “You don’t have to believe anything, but you must know everything.” Dr. Thomas Slater

Course Description: This course will focus on New Religious Movements primarily in the context of theUnited States.  The term “new,” in this instance, refers to religious developments within the last three hundred years. Topics include but are not limited to the following: the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements, the Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness movements, Christian Science, the Nation of Islam, African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement, Hasidism, Neo-Paganism, Sufism inAmerica, as well as modern variations in Catholicism.

Primary learning objectives: By the end of this course, students will be able to discuss the theoretical components which usually constitute a religious tradition. Students will be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the origins and historical context of the topics listed above in an articulate manner in both academic discussions and through the written word.

Course requirements:

*Students are required to complete ALL assignments by the due date.*

*Students must come to class well-prepared to be actively engaged on the topic of the day. This requires students to read all materials assigned.*

*Students should bring their course textbook(s) with them to class each day.*

Course assignments:

Terms quiz: 10%

2 Tests each 25%= 50% 

1 Final=30%

Group Project=10%

Assignment details:  Class attendance and participation requires that a student come to class on time, be prepared to discuss the homework assigned and actively engage themselves in the class. All tests will consist of matching, multiple choice, and two short-essay questions.

Grading policy:

100- 98%= A+             97-93%= A                92-90%= A-                

86-89%= B+                 83-85%= B                  80-82%= B-

76-79%= C+               73-75%=C                 70-72%=C-

69-60%= D                 59% or below= F

Attendance policy: Students should attend class regularly. You will not receive an attendance grade. However, a word of caution, there is a direct correlation between students who come to class and those who do well in this class.

Make-up examination and late papers: Emergency cases only: Should a student miss an exam due to an emergency, they must provide official documentation explaining why they missed the exam: for example: a doctor’s note, a tow-truck slip, a note from another academic or government office. Make-up exams must be completed within 1 week of the original exam date. All make-up exams will be different from the original exam. One letter grade will automatically be deducted from all papers turned in late.

Required course materials:

  1. America’s Alternative Religions edited by Timothy Miller, $32.95 Paperback, Release Date: July 1995, ISBN10: 0-7914-2398-0, ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2398-1
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  3. Sacred Matters by Gary Laderman

Recommended: Course copy packet from The Print Shop (you will need the CRN #)

*** “The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.”***

***Important Date: Feb. 25th: Midpoint (last day to withdraw) ***

Week 1: Snow week

 Week 2: Monday, Jan. 17th **No Class** MLK Jr. Holiday

Wednesday, Jan. 19th Introduction (Miller) and Terms

HW: Course Packet (CP) The Transformation of American Religion (Porterfield), (CP) Miller Introduction p.1-10, Miller chapter 2 p. 23-32

 Week 3: Monday, Jan. 24th Brief Overview (with Porterfield highlights) and Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal spirituality (Miller chapter 2)

 HW: Miller chapter 4 p.47-59

Wednesday, Jan. 26th Methhodist Holiness and Pentecostal cont’d

 Week 4: Monday, Jan. 31st Finish Holiness and Pentacostal, Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: (CP) Hackett- Genesis of Mormonism p. 167- 184

Wednesday, Feb. 2nd  Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: Miller chapter 5 p. 61-68, p.99

 Week 5: Monday, Feb. 7th Christian Science and American Culture, Contemporary Christian and Jewish Movements

 HW: read Miller chapter 9 p.101-107, chapter 10 p. 109-117

Wednesday, Feb. 9th Roman Catholic Traditions and Hasidism and Its Effects on Alternative Jewish in America

HW: read Miller p. 231, 233-242, 275, 277-283,

Week 6: Monday, Feb. 14th  **TERMS QUIZ**Expressions of Islam in America and Black Jews and Black Muslims, Nation of Islam

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Introduction, chapters 1-2)

Wednesday, Feb. 16th The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 3-10)

 Week 7: Monday, Feb. 21st  The Autobiography of Malcolm X

 HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 11-15)

Wednesday, Feb. 23rd The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: finish The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters16-19),(CP) Hackett- Martin and Malcolm p. 407-421

 **Feb. 28th– Mar. 6th: Spring Break**

 Week 8: Monday, March 7th The Autobiography of Malcolm X (conclusions)

  HW: read Miller chapter 23 p. 249-258, (CP) Smithsonian Article on Sufism p. 37-47

Wednesday, March 9th Sufism in America

HW: Read Miller p. 275, (CP) Hackett- African Americans, Exodus, and the American Israel p.73- 86

Week 9: Monday, March 14th African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement

HW: read Miller chapter 28 p. 291-296, chapter 33 p. 331-337

Wednesday, March 16th Test 1

 Week 10: Monday, March 21st Santeria and Vodou in the U.S. and Spiritualism and Channeling

HW: Read (CP) Hackett- The Lakota Ghost Dance p. 327-342

Wednesday, March 23rd The Lakota Ghost Dance (clip about the Ghost Dance in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee)

 HW: Sacred Matters Introduction (xiii-xviii) and Chapter 1: Film (1-22)

 Week 11: Monday, March 28th Sacred Matters

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 2: Music (23- 42)

Wednesday, March 30th (Guest lecturer: Christa Lasher, topic: Wicca and Neo-Paganism)

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 3: Sports (43-62), Chapter 4: Celebrity (63-84)

Week 12: Monday, April 4th Sacred Matters

Wednesday, April 6th: Test 2

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 5: Science (85-102), Chapter 6: Medicine (103-122)

 Week 13: Monday, April 11th Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 7: Violence (123-140)

Wednesday, April 13th: Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 8: Sexuality (141-160), Article: The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture (

 Week 14: Monday, April 18th: (Guest lecturer: Kenny Smith, topic: New Religious Movements)

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 9: Death (161-180)

Wednesday, April 20th: Sacred Matters

 Week 15: Monday, April 25th: conclusions

**The final exam will be given during the appointed final exam period.**

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Filed under Lectures (Academic Study of Religion), Lectures (Christianity), Lectures (Islam), Lectures (Judaism), Lectures (New Religious Movements), Teaching World Religions