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William W. Haddad, chair and professor of history, recently taught a lesson on the history of Islam. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

Studying Islam

New Minor Expands Comparative Religion Department

August 25, 2009

By Mimi Ko Cruz

James A. Santucci

Students interested in Islamic studies can now choose to minor in the subject.

The new 21-unit minor, being introduced this fall, represents “an expansion of focus for the Comparative Religion Department,” said James A. Santucci, chair and professor of comparative religion.

“For years, the department, in its drive to fulfill its mission and goals, has offered three minor degrees — religious studies, Christian studies and Jewish studies — in addition to the major degree in religious studies,” he said. “Since the attacks on 9/11, there have been innumerable observations in newspaper columns, articles and books that attempted to understand both the motivations of the attackers and subsequent actions taken by ‘terrorists,’ together with the underlying principles in Islam that are perceived by both the participants and commentators that instigate such actions.

“The department is of the opinion that there is a great need to explain Islam to the college population because of the impact that Islam is having on Southern California (home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the country), the nation, Europe, and the world,” Santucci added. “The minor in Islamic studies, therefore, is considered by the department as an important and necessary addition to the curriculum.”

As part of the new minor, a new course — "History and Development of Islamic Thought" — is being offered this semester. It is being taught by Zakyi Ibrahim, assistant professor of comparative religion.


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