Middlebury

 

Ata Anzali

Assistant Professor of Religion

Email: 
Phone: work802.443.5759
Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30-1:30; Fridays 10:00-12:00; and by appointment.
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I was born and raised in northwest Iran. After finishing my undergraduate years majoring in Electronics, I decided to switch to a completely different field of study focusing on the study of Islam. That is what I have been doing for the last fifteen years. After studying the philosophical and mystical traditions of Islam extensively in Iran, I moved to the US in 2006 to pursue a PhD in the study of religion. After six years I successfully defended my dissertation titled “Safavid Shi’ism, the Eclipse of Sufism, and the Emergence of Irfan” in 2012 and immediately joined the department of religion where I have been teaching courses on different aspects of the Islamic tradition. My ongoing research project is on the history of Persian Sufism during the 17th and 18th centuries. Other topics of interest to me are theories and methods in the study of religion, the comparative study of mysticism and religion, the early history of Islam and the Qur’an, Persian culture and civilization, and modern religious reform movements in the Middle East.

 

Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

GSFS 0258 - The Qur'an      

The Qur’an and the Feminist Subject WT
How was the Qur’an compiled, and who was involved in that process? What does the Qur’an say about Muhammad and the early community of believers? Why is it so difficult to approach? While considering the answers to these questions, we will explore the socio-cultural context in which the Qur’an was revealed and its similarities and differences with the Bible. We will also discuss major themes and concepts of the Qur’an and the various ways they have been interpreted by different Muslim communities throughout history. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

AAL PHL

Fall 2014

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RELI 0150 - The Islamic Tradition      

Introduction to Islam WT
What is Islam? Is it a religion, a way of life, a civilization, or a political ideology? Was Muhammad a political leader, a warrior, or an ascetic? What is the Qur’an? How did it develop as a sacred text and how does it compare to the Bible? This course is designed to provide a platform for us to explore such questions by focusing on historical, social, and intellectual developments in the wide swath of land known as the Muslim world. Special attention will be given to early developments of the Islamic community as well as the later response of different Muslim communities to modernity. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc

AAL PHL

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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RELI 0257 - Shi'a Islam      

Shi'i Islam
What is Shi'i Islam? How is it different from Sunni Islam? Is Shi'ism an ideology of revolt or an esoteric cult? What does it even mean to ask such a question? We will delve into the early history of the Muslim community to understand the contested ways in which religious authority, knowledge, and charisma were interpreted by different parties. We will read from classical primary sources about the Shi'i creed and compare and contrast it to the Sunni perspective. Finally, we will explore the many ways in which Shi’ite communities across the Muslim world have responded to the challenge of modernities, nationalisms, and their persecution as minorities. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

AAL PHL

Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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RELI 0258 - The Qur'an      

The Qur’an and the Feminist Subject WT
How was the Qur’an compiled, and who was involved in that process? What does the Qur’an say about Muhammad and the early community of believers? Why is it so difficult to approach? While considering the answers to these questions, we will explore the socio-cultural context in which the Qur’an was revealed and its similarities and differences with the Bible. We will also discuss major themes and concepts of the Qur’an and the various ways they have been interpreted by different Muslim communities throughout history. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

AAL PHL

Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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RELI 0350 - Mystical Tradition of Islam      

Sufism: The Mystical Tradition of Islam
In this seminar, we will start our adventure in the Sufi world by focusing on the historical and religious contexts in which the mystical tradition of Islam developed during the early Islamic centuries. We will then turn to the so-called classical period focusing on the institutionalization of Sufism, major themes of the classical Sufi literature; fundamental teachings and practices of Sufis; and important figures like Rumi, Ibn Arabi, and Hafez. Finally, we will move to the modern period to discuss the ways in which the Sufi tradition has been re-interpreted, contested, or transformed throughout the Muslim world in response to the challenges of modernity. In all this, our main concern will be to develop an understanding of the mystical perspective that has influenced the outlook of much of the world's diverse Muslim population. Requires familiarity with the Islamic tradition. 3 hrs. sem.

AAL PHL

Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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RELI 0500 - Independent Research      

Independent Research
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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RELI 0700 - Senior Project in Religion      

Senior Project
(Approval Required)

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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RELI 0701 - Senior Thesis in Religion      

Senior Research for Honors Candidates
Approval required

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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RELI 1032 - Islam in America      

Islam in America
Islam has a long history in America. However, beginning in the 1960s, large numbers of Muslims from across the globe began relocating to America after restrictive immigration laws eased. Today, Islam is reportedly America’s fastest growing religion. In this course we will consider the faith and teachings of Islam, Islam in the African American community, immigrant Muslim communities in the United States, issues of cultural and religious identity, Muslim women in America, and the ways that second generation Muslims are reshaping Islam in the American context. Throughout the course, our focus will be on the making of an American Islam.

CMP HIS NOR PHL WTR

Winter 2014

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