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NEAR E 230 A: Introduction to Muslim Beliefs and Practices

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
DEN 113
Joint Sections: 
Terri Deyoung
Terri L. DeYoung

Syllabus Description:

NE 230A

Religion 211A

Muslim Beliefs and Practices: Shi'ism

(Autumn 2019)




Instructor: Terri DeYoung                                                                   Class Location: 113 Denny Hall

Office: 246 Denny Hall                                                                                           Class Time: TTh 3:30-5:20

                                                                                           Schedule Line Numbers:19254 (NE 230 A)

                                                                                                                                                 / 21004 (Relig 211 A)

Telephone: 543-6184 (direct)

                                or 543-6033 (main office--leave message)

Office Hours: TTh 2:00-3:00, or by appointment



Description of Course: In Autumn Quarter 2019, this course will focus on the Shi’i branch of Islam in the context of the larger Muslim community. Shi‘is comprise the second largest group of Muslim adherents, approximately 150-200 million, or 10-15% of Muslims world-wide. Shi’is form the majority of the Muslim population of Iran, Iraq and Bahrayn. They are a substantial portion of the population in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan, India. Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf States.


After an inquiry into the general framework of Islam as a religion, in the second half of the course, we will explore what the basic beliefs of Shi’ism are today, and how they developed over time The last two weeks of the course will also look at the three groups of Shi’is who have been most widespread and influential in the history of Shi‘ism: Ithna ‘Asharis, Zaydis and Isma‘ilis. These groups have used both Arabic and Persian to spread their ideas, but all the materials for the course will be IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION. No knowledge of Arabic or Persian is required for the course. There are no pre-requisites.



Course Requirements

Exams: There will be three exams for the course. Two of them will be midterms. The first will be tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, 2019 (based on a list of terms to be distributed at next class session). The second midterm is tentatively scheduled for October 29, 2018. It will be based on a second list of terms that will be distributed no later than October 12, 2019. There will also be a take-home Final Exam (due date will tentatively be the last day of exam week).It will be based on a set of questions distributed no later than 3 class sessions before the end of the course. The Midterms will count for 40% of the total grade, and the Final Exam will count for 30%.

                Students will have the option to substitute (with the instructor’s permission, obtained at least two weeks in advance of the end of classes) a final paper (usually about 5-8 pages in length) for the take-home final exam. This paper will be due on the same day as the final exam.


Other Assignments: 5% of the grade for the course will be based on a 2 pp. paper due on October 4, 2019. The topic of the paper will be “Why am I taking this course and what do I hope to learn from it?” If you have any questions about the topic or the due date, please feel free to ask Professor DeYoung.


            The remaining20% of the grade will be based on in-class participation. This means that you will be expected to have read the “Primary Readings” before coming to class, and do whatever other reading is necessary so that you can participate actively in the class discussions. Regular attendance (according to University Regulations) will not be included in this portion of the grade, so it is up to the student to participate in the class discussion, in order to receive full credit for "class participation."


            Any of these assignments, if turned in or completed late, may be subject to an automatic .3 deduction from the grade originally assigned. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all assignments are submitted on time and in readable format to the instructor.




Plagiarism: Plagiarism occurs whenever someone uses the ideas or writings of another as their own without giving due credit. This applies to both exams and papers. All policies in place concerning academic honesty at the University of Washington apply to this course. It is the student’s responsibility to become fully informed about those policies. Refer to the University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478120), for more information on the subject, or Search “Student Academic Responsibility” on the University of Washington homepage.




For Students with Special Needs: If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor as soon as possible so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.


Laptop Computers: Laptop (or other communication devices) may be used in class with the instructor’s permission. They may not be used during tests.


Classroom Courtesy: If you think you may have to leave early or arrive late to a class, please let the instructor know in advance and try to sit near the door, so that you will not inconvenience others.


            Since the consumption of food during the lecture can interfere with class participation and maybe distracting to others, students are requested to avoid this in the classroom unless they are prepared to share what they have brought with all the other students. Your cooperation will be appreciated by everyone.

                           In general, civil and respectful behavior in the classroom is expected from everyone. If there are any serious disruptions during class sessions, University police will be contacted.


Class Breaks. Whenever possible, there will be a break of approximately 10 minutes halfway through the class lectures. This will be an opportunity for students to conduct any personal business necessary outside of the classroom.




Required Texts: There is one required textbook for the course: Heinz Halm, The Shiites: A Short History (2007). Copies are available at the University Bookstore. Other required texts will be available on Canvas and Professor DeYoung will also send them by attachment to you on e-mail. If you think you cannot receive the texts this way, please talk to the instructor as soon as possible, in order to make suitable arrangements so that you can get access to the texts.


All the Primary Readings for the course will be either taken from The Shiites or from the reader.


Recommended Readings listed in the “Assignments” file on Canvas are for the most part available in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library, either on reserve or in the stacks.


Supplemental Readings will mostly be found in the Suzzallo/Allen Library, either in the “Reference” area or in the stacks. You should see the instructor if you have any difficulty obtaining one of these recommended or supplemental readings.




Recommendations: Professor DeYoung will be happy to write a recommendation for any student who receives a 4.0 in this course or any other of her courses.


Exam Comments: If you would like to have your Final Exam questions (or your paper) returned to you (with comments), please leave off a hard copy, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope in Professor DeYoung’s box in the NELC Main Office (Denny Hall), or make arrangements to pick them up in Winter Quarter 2020.

Catalog Description: 
Examines the origins and development of central beliefs in various Muslim traditions; such as monotheism, prophecy, divine judgment, and predestination. Looks at ritual and socio-cultural practices in Muslim societies in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Offered: jointly with RELIG 211.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:21pm