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Islam and Philosophy


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to BA students in Philosophy who have been enrolled in the Global and Comparative Perspectives track, who have successfully completed their first year, and also completed at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of their second year, including:

  • Language and Thought

  • Concepts of Selfhood


The assumed dichotomy between Islam and philosophy is a false one. The idea that one can speak of Islam, on the one hand, and philosophy, on the other, lapses into many problematic assumptions, chief among them is the tendency to lapse into crass essentialism and reductionist discourse. The same is true of philosophy.

The aim of this course is to offer correctives, re-readings, re-evaluations, re-conceptualizations, and re-imaginings of the assumed separateness between Islam and philosophy. The course will seek to demonstrate that philosophy and philosophical thinking has permeated all aspects and facets of Islamic intellectual traditions and that medieval and modern Islamic writing is suffused with thoroughgoingly philosophical themes, ranging from Arabic and Persian literature and qurʾanic exegesis to legal studies, theology, and poetry and linguistics.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course would have:

  • Understood the diversity of Islamic philosophical thinking in history and at present;

  • Acquired an understanding of Islamic attitudes towards learning, philosophy, and non religious sciences;

  • Addressed the hackneyed assumptions about the relationship between Islam and philosophy;

  • Understood use and abuse of problematic analytical categories in the study of Islamic philosophy;

  • Developed a thorough understanding of the different conceptions of philosophy in the medieval and modern Middle East;

  • Critically reflected on, distinguished between, and examined key varieties and aspects of argumentation for and against the use of philosophy in religious milieus;

  • Exhibited the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with their own assumptions and values;

  • Acquired a set of reading and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and others in an informed and conscientious manner.


See: BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives

  • Philosophy, BA3 - Global and Comparative Perspectives

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

A typical but not necessarily strict structure is follows:

  • Opportunity for questions and discussions about the previous textual segments;

  • Lecture on assigned selected readings. This will introduce the topic, offer historical context, and outline the main philosophical themes and/or arguments;

  • Discussion (sometimes in groups) of the primary text and responses to guiding questions.

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

Calculation of the course load to be announced.

Assessment method


Students will submit two essays, one to cover the material studied in the first half of the course, and another at the end of the semester to cover the second half of the material covered in the course. Your essays are expected to offer clear argument, philosophical reflections, and evidence that demonstrates knowledge of the main literature.


  • Midterm essay: 50%

  • Final essay: 50%


To be announced.

Exam review

Students will receive one-to-one feedback on the midterm and (should they request) the final essay.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Announcements

  • Posting of links for readings

  • Extra class discussions

  • Media articles

Reading list

Study of compulsory literature:

Our primary readings will draw from a series of Arabic and Persian texts in translation. The primary texts in translation will be available in a shared Dropbox folder, or at the University Library where students can make photocopies of the assigned readings.

  • S. Ahmad, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton and Oxford, 2016).

  • F. Rahman,* Prophecy in Islam: Philosophy and Orthodoxy* (London, 1958).

  • H. Yaman, Prophetic Niche in the Virtuous City: The Concept of Hikmah in Early Islamic Thought.

  • M. Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (Lahore, 1954).

  • A. Sadri, Reason, Freedom, and Democracy in Islam: Essential Writings of Abdolkarim Soroush (New York and Oxford, 2002).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. Ahab Bdaiwi


Not applicable.