Written Assignments

Islam and Enlightenment


Web Resources for This Assignment

Selections from the Qur'an
The European Enlightenment Reader
The European Enlightenment

Modern Islam   The history of modern Islam is largely a history of the cultural importation of European ideas into the Islamic world; most of these European ideas are fundamentally Enlightenment ideas. This importation of the European Enlightenment into the Islamic world has produced both new forms of Islamic and European thought, but it has also produced conflict and resistance.
   In an earlier assignment, I asked you to speculate on how Islam differed from the European Enlightenment by using the Qur'an to explain how certain ideas and events from European history would have been viewed from an Islamic perspective. In this assignment, I want you to actively speculate on how European Enlightenment ideas would translate directly into Islamic culture. You are either going to find full out conflict between Islam and those ideas, or you're going to speculate on how those ideas might be transformed into uniquely Islamic forms.


The Assignment   On this assignment, I want you to show how one particular Enlightenment author might translate into the Islamic world. You can pick any of the authors that you have already read, or you can pick any other author in the Enlightenment Reader. You are then to show in a three paragraph essay how that author might translate into an Islamic world view. Either the ideas of that author are completely at variance with Islam or the Islamic world would absorb these ideas by transforming them in some way. If you pick the former approach, you have to explain the conflict; if you pick the latter approach, you must explain how Islam would transform that particular writer's ideas.
   In your first paragraph, you are to explain the basic argument of the European Enlightenment author that you're using. In a second paragraph, you are to explain the Islamic view for that subject by using two or more verses from the Qur'an , just as you have done in earlier assignments on Islam. In a third paragraph, you are to explain what would happen if the Enlightenment author's ideas mixed with Islam; in other words, you are to combine your explanation of Islam with your explanation of the Enlightenment author to either spell out the fundamental conflict between the two or explain how the Islamic world view would transform the author's ideas.


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