Dr. Omid Safi

Islamic Mysticism: Literary & Cultural Dimensions

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Course Summary

This course seeks to engage the mystical interpretations of Islam, primarily through the tradition of Rumi, as one of the most important historical manifestations of the Islamic experience. 

You will learn about the following topics:

Islam: From Arabia to Africa to the West
Black Religious Cosmology: From Africa to America
America, Whiteness, and Blackness
African Muslims in America Under Slavery
Black Religion and the Rise of Black Proto-Islam
The Moorish Science Temple and Nation of Islam
The Ahmadiyyah Mission
Malcolm X
Imam W.D. Muhammad / Minister Farrakhan
Five Percenters, Ansar-Allah and other groups
Independent Sunni Movements, Dar al-Islam, Salafi Movement
Black Orientalism
Blackamericans, Immigrants and the American State
Blackamerican Islam and Gender
Navigating this Course

This course is divided into a series of Modules, each containing recorded lecture videos, quizzes, and related information.

Course readings and handouts may also be available for download. These materials serve as background reading and resources related to the course content.

Use the navigation buttons to proceed through the sequence of course modules. You can always re-watch a lecture in this entirely self-paced course. Take the optional quizzes to check your learning.

About your Instructor


Dr. Sherman Jackson is the King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC). He was formerly the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Visiting Professor of Law and Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).

Dr. Jackson received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. From 1987 to 1989, he served as Executive Director of the Center of Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo, Egypt. He is the author of several books, including Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihâb al-Dîn al-Qarâfî (E.J. Brill, 1996), On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abû Hâmid al-Ghazâlî’s Faysal al-Tafriqa (Oxford, 2002), Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection (Oxford, 2005) Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering (Oxford, 2009), and most recently Sufism for Non-Sufis? Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah al-Sakandari’s Taj al-‘Arus (Oxford, 2012).

Course Readings

The main course book is:

Jackson, Sherman. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Paperback. ISBN: 978-0199782383. Kindle version available.

Please find selected additional readings for the course (articles and book sections within fair use parameters) in the Downloads section on the right. 

Patrick Jones - Course author

Dr. Omid Safi

American Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University | Visiting Faculty; Bayan

Course contents