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Level 4

4AAT1001 Introduction to Islam


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr. Kazuyo Murata
Assessment: One three-hour examination

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one two-hour weekly lecture over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none

The module provides an introduction to Islam, exploring key aspects of its thought and practice and early history. The module content is built on the structure of the Hadith of Gabriel, which presents the religion as comprising islam, or submission (action), iman, or belief (understanding), ihsan, or doing what is beautiful (sincerity), and proper understanding of human history. Topics covered typically include the social and cultural setting in which Islam emerged, religious and political developments during and after the Prophet's life, internal divisions within the Muslim community, the authoritative texts, law, and major schools of Islamic thought.

Sample topics

  • Hadith of Gabriel and the three dimensions of Islam
  • The five pillars of Islam
  • The life of Muhammad and the early Muslim community
  • The Qur’an and Hadith
  • Sunnism and Shi’ism
  • The Islamic approach to monotheism (tawhid)
  • Prophecy and the purpose of human life
  • Various intellectual schools (e.g., dogmatic theology, philosophy and Sufism)

Further information

Module aims
  • To introduce students to key beliefs and practice of Islam
  • To introduce students to a basic Islamic worldview, including the concept of God, the God-human relationship, the role of prophets and scripture(s), Islam's relation to other religions (such as Judaism and Christianity), and general cosmology and eschatology
  • To familiarise students with the early history of Islam
  • To help students understand the diversity within Islam (schisms, various intellectual schools, etc.) 
Learning outcomes

Generic skills:

  • Ability to engage critically with primary and secondary sources
  • Ability to summarise and present arguments

Module specific skills:

  • Develop a familiarity with the main aspects of the early history of Islam 
  • Understand main themes and key doctrines of Islam
  • Develop a familiarity with major aspects of Islamic thought
Preliminary Reading

Module textbook:

  • William Shepard (2014) Introducing Islam. 2nd edition. London & New York: Routledge. Students are expected to purchase this book.

Recommended additional readings:

  • Brown, Daniel (2004) A New Introduction to Islam. Blackwell
  • Denny, Frederick M. (2004) An Introduction to Islam. 3rd revised Edition. Prentice Hall
  • Rippin, Andrew (2005) Muslims: Their Beliefs and Practices. 3rd edition. Routledge
  • Rippin, Andrew (2007) Defining Islam: A Reader. London: Equinox
  • Saeed, Abdullah (2007) Islam Thought: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge
  • Turner, Colin (2006) Islam: The basics. London and New York: Routledge 


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