How can you improve your understanding of Islam and its most important holy text, the Quran? How can you make sense of a tradition and a text that have been interpreted in different ways across vast geographical spaces for nearly a millennium and a half?

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Using a multimedia and student-centered approach, this religion course provides tools and perspectives for understanding the role of the Quran in the Islamic tradition. Learners will develop the skills and context to read the text themselves, while also being introduced to some of the issues classical and contemporary interpreters have addressed. This approach enables learners to explore the influence of the Quran on diverse Muslim understandings of Islam.

No previous knowledge of Islam or Religious Studies is required.

What you'll learn:

  • An introduction to the place of the Quran in Muslim cultures
  • Major themes of the Quran
  • The historical and cultural contexts of the Quran
  • Interpretive skills that enable a more nuanced reading of the Quran
  • Diverse approaches Muslims have adopted to engaging with Quranic texts, including issues in contemporary interpretation

This course is part of the World Religions Through Their Scriptures XSeries Program. 

Meet The Faculty

Ali S. Asani

Ali S. Asani

Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Harvard University

Ali S. Asani is professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures at Harvard University. A native of Kenya, Asani received both his undergraduate degree summa cum laude in the comparative study of religion and his PhD in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University. He has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of South Asian and African languages as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition. He currently directs the university's PhD program in Indo-Muslim Culture and chairs the department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations. He also serves as the associate director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program.

Asani has been active since Sept 11 in improving the American understanding of Islam and its role in Muslim societies by conducting workshops for high school and college educators and making presentations at public forums. He is also involved in the Islamic Cultural Studies Initiative, an international professional development program for high school teachers in Kenya, Pakistan, and Texas intended to promote a culturally and historically based approach to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. In 2002, he was awarded the Harvard Foundation medal for his contributions to improving intercultural and interracial relations.

PhD, Harvard University

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