Academic Program - Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Skip Navigation

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

(For 2015–2016 academic year)

Associate Professor Khan (Director)
Assistant Professor Musa
Senior Lecturer Abdal-Ghaffar
Visiting Lecturer Essa

Advisory Committee Abdal-Ghaffar, Balachandran, Kaimal, Khan (Director), Monk, Mundy, Murshid, Musa, Rutherford, Spadola, Spevack

This program focuses on the Middle East and North Africa while also studying the wider Islamic world. It provides students with an understanding of the origins and development of the Islamic faith in its heartland, as well as an awareness of the multi-cultural and dynamic character of modern Islam. It also trains students in the history, culture, politics, and political economy of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world.

The area encompassed by this program extends from Morocco to the Philippines. It contains an extraordinary variety of linguistic and ethnic groups such as Arabs, Iranians, Turkic peoples, Kurds, Baluchis, Malays, and others. This region is home to over 1.4 billion Muslims, who constitute more than one-fifth of the world’s population. It is the source of a rich religious and intellectual tradition that emerged from the same roots as the Western tradition and evolved over a long history of interaction with the West. It also plays an important role in global peace, security, and prosperity. These demographic, cultural, and strategic considerations will lead to a steady increase in contact between the Islamic world and the United States in the future. The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program (MIST) program equips Colgate students with the knowledge and conceptual tools needed to understand and manage this relationship.

The themes addressed by the program include the history and development of the Islamic faith; colonialism and its impact on the cultures, economies, and polities of the region; the rise of nationalism and its relationship to tribal, religious, and ethnic identities; the emergence and impact of political Islam; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the prospects for democratization; and United States foreign policy toward the Middle East, North Africa, and the Islamic world.

Major Program

The major in the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program consists of 11 courses, only two of which may be shared with a cognate major such as international relations:
  1. A MIST-related CORE course such as CORE 183C, Middle East; CORE 170C, Islamic North Africa; or another appropriate course.
  2. Proficiency equivalent to four semester of study in a single MIST-related language. This requirement is normally met through completion of four of the following courses in a single language:
  3. MIST 121, 122, Elementary Arabic; MIST 201, 202, Intermediate Arabic; MIST 301, 302, Advanced Arabic; MIST 301, 402, Topics in Arabic Language and Culture HEBR 121, 122, Elementary Hebrew and HEBR 201, 202, Intermediate Hebrew  
    Students who wish to fulfill the language requirement though study abroad must consult with the director to determine suitable programs and the procedure for transferring credit. In some cases, students are required to successfully complete a language proficiency exam upon their return to campus.  Students who place out of two or more language courses must still complete a total of at least nine MIST courses in order to fulfill the requirements of the major. Students pursuing honors are strongly encouraged to undertake additional language study.
  4. Five additional courses selected from among those listed below. Students must complete one 200- or 300-level course in each group (A, B, and C). These three foundational courses must be taken at Colgate. Students may not count more than two courses from any one group toward the major. At least two courses must be at the 300 level. One affiliated elective may be counted. Students may petition to count up to two 300- or 400-level language courses toward the major, in addition to the four required language courses mentioned in the previous section.

    Group A: Humanities
    MIST/RELG 214, Introduction to the Qur’an
    MIST/RELG 216, Life of Muhammad
    MIST/ RELG 310, Islamic Jurisprudence
    MIST/ RELG 337, Islamic Mysticism
    RELG 234, Woman and Religious Traditions: Islam
    RELG 247, Death and Afterlife: Islam
    RELG 248, Christianity, Islam, and Political Change in Africa
    RELG 282, Experiencing Islam
    RELG 329, Islam in the Modern World

    Group B: Historical Perspectives
    HIST 255, The Ottoman Empire, 1300–1924
    HIST 259, Introduction to Modern Middle Eastern History
    HIST 263, The Silk Road
    HIST 268, South Asian History to 1500
    HIST 269, History of Modern India
    HIST 359, Nationalism and Arab Identity in the 20th Century
    HIST 362, The Mughal Empire, c. 1500–1750
    HIST 385, Darfur in Historical Perspective
    HIST 459, Seminar on Modern Middle Eastern History
    PCON/MIST 351, Israel/Palestine Conflict

    Group C: Social Sciences
    MIST/POSC 215, Comparative Politics: Middle East
    MIST/ANTH 252, Muslim Societies in Transition
    MIST/POSC 304, Islam and Politics
    MIST/GEOG 305, Geopolitics of the Middle East
    MIST/POSC 363, International Relations of the Middle East
    ANTH 382, Nations, Power, Islam: Muslim Identity and Community in the Global Age
    POSC 364, Politics of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan

    Affiliated Electives
    ARTS 244, Temples, Caves, and Stupas (The Art and Architecture of India before 1300)
    ARTS 245, Palaces and Paintings (The Art and Architecture of India after 1300)
    CORE 174C, Multi-Ethnic Israel
    CORE 185C, The Sahara
    FREN 455, Francophone Voices from North Africa
    HIST 232, The Crusades (with permission of instructor)
    MIST 251, Living Egypt
    MIST 253, Aspects of Contempoaray Arab Societies: Morocco
    PCON 479, Research Seminar in Peace and Conflict Studies: Peace and Conflict, Themes and Analysis (with permission of instructor)
    RELG/JWST 340, The Land of Israel
  5. A capstone course consisting of a 400-level MIST-related seminar in a department such as History or Peace and Conflict Studies or an equivalent independent study. This capstone course entails completion of a substantial research project on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. If a student is a double major, the same course may be counted as the capstone in both majors, but the MIST capstone requires the research be presented as a paper and in a public forum such as a viva.

Minor Program

The minor in MIST consists of five courses: a MIST-related Core Communities and Identities course (such as CORE 183C, Middle East; CORE 170C, Islamic North Africa; or another appropriate course) and four other courses. Of these four, two courses must be chosen from among two of the three groups mentioned above (Groups A, B, and C). The remaining two courses may be chosen from these groups or from the list of affiliated electives. No more than two courses may be taken in any one group. For purposes of the minor, language courses are considered electives and a single semester of study counts towards the minor. Students are highly encouraged to take either Arabic or Hebrew.

GPA Requirements

Only courses in which a student earns a grade of C or better count toward the major or minor if the course was taken at Colgate.

Honors and High Honors

A minimum overall GPA in the major of 3.50 for honors and 3.70 for high honors is required, plus a written thesis of generally 40 to 60 pages. Students must earn a grade of A– or better in the capstone course in order to be eligible for honors. In order to receive honors, the thesis must be judged by a committee of two MIST faculty members from different disciplines with a grade of A– or better. For high honors, it must be judged by a committee of three MIST faculty members from two or more different disciplines with a grade of A or better. The thesis is normally completed over two terms. It may be started in any 300- or 400-level MIST-related course or independent study, including the capstone course. It is completed either in a MIST-related 400-level course or an independent study.

Study Abroad

The MIST faculty and the off-campus study office have identified a small number of programs that we highly encourage students to attend for a summer or a semester. Three course credits toward the major can be earned through study in off-campus programs. Approved off-campus language courses may also count toward the major and are not included in the three-credit limit. Consult with MIST faculty for further details.

Course Offerings

Courses unique to the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program (MIST) are described below. Descriptions of other courses noted above may be found under appropriate departments.

121  Elementary Arabic I
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This course offers elementary training in the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing through intensive training in the phonology and script of Modern Standard Arabic and its basic vocabulary and fundamental structure. There is a focus on simple interactive communicative tasks involving teacher with students and students among themselves. Basic grammar is taught through reading, writing, and speaking drills in conjunction with the formal exercises in the text. This training is supplemented with simple lessons on interpersonal transactions and cultural contexts. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

122  Elementary Arabic II
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This elementary-level Modern Standard Arabic course continues the presentation of fundamentals of Arabic grammar and the development of proficiency in reading, writing, and spoken communication skills and oral comprehension, including extensive cultural material. The course provides additional training in formal spoken Arabic, with significant consideration to deviations of certain Arabic dialects. In addition to standard drills, students are expected to engage in structured and semi-structured speaking activities, as well as content-based language activities built around regional topics. Prerequisite: MIST 121. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

201  Intermediate Arabic I
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This course continues the study of Modern Standard Arabic begun in MIST 121 and 122, or their equivalent. Emphasis is placed on grammatical analysis, writing, and reading of increasingly longer and more complex texts; further vocabulary acquisition; and continued practice in listening and speaking formal Arabic. Prerequisite: MIST 122. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

202  Intermediate Arabic II
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This second intermediate level course of Modern Standard Arabic continues the presentation of fundamentals of Arabic grammar and the development of proficiency in reading, writing, and spoken communications skills and oral comprehension, including extensive cultural material. In this course, the student should be able to receive instructions in Arabic. The course provides additional extensive training in formal spoken Arabic, with significant consideration to classical Arabic, as well as the deviations of certain Arabic dialects. This course concentrates on extensive reading and writing as well as correct prose. It encompasses interdialectical features as well as the variations of modern standard Arabic; and it completes and emphasizes the functional as well as the situational aspects of the Arabic language. The student is expected to write brief essays in Arabic and continue to engage in structured and semi-structured writing and speaking activities, as well as content-based language activities built around regional topics. Prerequisite: MIST 201 or equivalent. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

210  An Introduction to Arabic Literature in Translation
Staff
This survey of Arabic literature in translation is designed to introduce students to the wealth and richness of literary history and art of expression of the Arabs. Modern Arabic literature embodies the emotion, aspiration, and universal humanism of the millions of Arabic-speaking people. This literary production is deeply rooted in a tradition of eloquence and manifested in diverse forms in poetry and prose over the past 1,900 years. The course traces Arabic literature and its diverse forms in two distinctive approaches. The first is historical, starting with the pre-Islamic period (6th century CE) through the 18th century CE. The second approach is thematic, introducing students to a range of literary genres such as novels, short stories, modern poetry, and drama. A selection of major works in English translation and representative of the various genres provides the foundation for readings and discussions. The list is carefully selected to expose students to different literary genres as well as the diversity of Arabic-speaking populations and geographical regions. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

214  Introduction to the Qur’an
This course is crosslisted as RELG 214. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

215  Comparative Politics: Middle East
This course is crosslisted as POSC 215. For course description, see “Political Science: Course Offerings.”

216  Life of Muhammad
This course is crosslisted as RELG 216. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

251  Living Egypt
Staff
This extended study course concentrates on giving students a sense of the many layers and elements that make up living Egypt, the land and its people today. This requires a sense of both history and language, as well as a wide-ranging (if eclectic) understanding of the lived experience of the people. Thus, the class studies cultural aspects such as food and music, as well as historical and political issues. The course includes a three-week trip to Egypt, which exposes student to the actual environment in which all these aspects come together. Please note that ancient Egypt is discussed only in the context of its effect on Egyptians today; this is not an appropriate course for students who expect to learn a lot about archaeology and Egyptology. Corequisites: MIST 121, 122, or 201, and permission of instructor.

252  Muslim Societies in Transition
This course is crosslisted as ANTH 252. For course description, see “Anthropology: Course Offerings.”

253  Aspects of Contemporary Arab Societies: Morocco
Staff
This extended study course aims at introducing students to the dynamics and development of a contemporary Arab society through engaging critically with academic sources on campus and an on-site living experience. It provides students a sense of the many layers and elements of selected aspects of Moroccan society on both theoretical and practical levels. It includes a three-week extended study in Morocco, which is designed to give the students a unique opportunity to reflect on the society utilizing the program’s language study, homestay experience, cross-cultural orientation, lectures, and excursions. Students learn how to apply the practical knowledge, the skills, and the daily experience they gain during their visit, to have a better understanding of the country from the locals’ standpoints while simultaneously comparing and relating it to their own Colgate academic perspectives and personal perspectives as citizens of the world. Students must complete both the on-campus component and the extended study component of the course in order to earn credit for the course. Prerequisites: co-registration in MIST 122 or higher, and permission of instructor.

301  Advanced Arabic I
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This course is the first part of a year-long advanced Arabic sequence that aims to move students from the intermediate level towards the advanced level of proficiency as defined by the standards set by the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This course is designed to enable students to refine and expand their knowledge of Arabic grammar and sentence structures via intensive daily instruction that includes practice of all the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Cultural awareness is also integral to the advanced Arabic course and is introduced through readings, lectures, and activities, and further reinforced through an assigned cultural project. This course is conducted in Arabic and most of the materials are authentic. Prerequisite: MIST 202 or permission of instructor. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

302  Advanced Arabic II
N. Abdal-Ghaffar
This course is the second part of a year-long advanced Arabic sequence that aims to move students from the intermediate level towards the advanced level of proficiency as defined by the standards set by the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This course is designed to enable students to refine and expand their knowledge of Arabic grammar and sentence structures via intensive daily instruction that includes practice of all the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Cultural awareness is also integral to the advanced Arabic course and is introduced through readings, lectures, and activities, and further reinforced through an assigned cultural project. This course is conducted in Arabic and most of the materials are authentic. Prerequisite: MIST 202 or permission of instructor. This course counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

304  Islam and Politics
This course is crosslisted as POSC 304. For course description, see “Political Science: Course Offerings.”

305  Geopolitics of the Middle East
This course is crosslisted as GEOG 305. For course description, see “Geography: Course Offerings.”

310  Islamic Jurisprudence
A. Musa
This course addresses Islamic jurisprudence from the historical background of Islamic law, known as Shari’ah, namely the five Sunni and Shiite Schools of Law, the concept of “Ijtihad,” and Islamic criminal law. Students also study the relationship between Islamic and other systems of jurisprudence. Consideration of Muslim theology offers an important context for understanding Islamic law. This course is crosslisted as RELG 310.

337  Islamic Mysticism
This course is crosslisted as RELG 337. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

351  Israel/Palestine Conflict
This course is crosslisted as PCON 351. For course description, see “Peace and Conflict Studies: Course Offerings.” This course counts toward the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement.

363  International Relations of the Middle East
This course is crosslisted as POSC 363. For course description, see “Political Science: Course Offerings.”

401, 402  Topics in Arabic Language and Culture
Staff
MIST 401 and MIST 402 comprise a year-long course sequence aimed at moving students from the Advanced-Low level of proficiency towards the Superior one. Six themes (three in each semester) are selected to represent a wide range of topics that are highly discussed among Arabs and non-Arabs in today’s world. These themes enable students to further develop their abilities to extract essential information and identify linguistic nuances in the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) as well as further deepen their understanding of Arab cultures. The courses are designed in accordance with the latest pedagogical philosophy and in light of the national standard guidelines and best practices in teaching Arabic as a foreign language. The only language allowed in class is Arabic. Prequisite for MIST 401: MIST 302 or permission of instructor; for MIST 402: MIST 401 or permission on instructor.