With approximately 1.6 billion adherents today, Islam is a world religion that has inspired a vibrant civilization, massive empires, and abiding social institutions throughout the fifteen centuries since its inception. This course is an introduction to the religion of Islam and its development in history. Topics covered include: pre-Islamic Arabia and the rise of Islam, Muhammad and the Qur'an, the development and criticism of hadith, Islamic law (Sharia) and jurisprudence, Islamic theology and philosophy, Sufism, colonialism and modernity, Islamic political thought and jihad, and themes in contemporary Muslim societies (i.e. 'lived Islam'). Although the syllabus is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Islam, it is also engaging for students with a Muslim background.