RLGS 2111 Islam & US Politics
This AI:Society & Culture religious studies course offers students a historically grounded introduction to the relationship(s) between Islam and United States politics.
Starting with an overview of the basic principles and practices of Islam, it quickly moves to the early United States. Students will examine the role played by Islam and Muslims in early American political thought, including 18th century debates on whether a Muslim could be elected President, as well as how Islam impacted early U.S. foreign policy. Advancing to the 19th century, students focus on Americans’ relationships with Muslims abroad – as travelers and as captives – and at home, with enslaved African Muslims.
They next look at early 20th century evangelization efforts and their political impact – both of Americans trying to convert foreign Muslims to Christianity, and of Indian Muslims trying to convert non-Muslim Americans to Islam. Moving into the mid-20th century, students assess the important role played by the Nation of Islam on African-American identity and on domestic politics, and addresses the impact of the Cold War on U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world. They then examine the impact of the Iranian Revolution and Gulf War I – two key events of the later 20th century – and their foreign and domestic impact.
The final third of the course looks at the impact of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the 2006 Congressional and 2008 Presidential elections and the Obama presidency. It concludes by asking students to reflect on the 2016 election and the Trump presidentcy, laying out suggestions for how Islam might impact U.S. politics at home and abroad over the next decade.