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Ebrahim College

Introduction to World Religions

Course title Introduction to World Religions Brief description This module is designed to give students an overview [...]

    Course title Introduction to World Religions

    Brief description

    This module is designed to give students an overview of the world’s major religions and an understanding of their important similarities and differences. The approach taken will be two-fold:

    1. the origins and development of each religion will be traced historically and core beliefs and practices described and explained;
    2. key perennial themes, such as law, spirituality, and charity, will be subject to critical analysis in order to evaluate their continuing relevance in today’s complex, modern societies.

    The religions studied include:

    1. Ancient Indian traditions and their later forms – Vedanta, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism
    2. Early Chinese thought – Confucianism and Taoism
    3. The influence of India on China – Chan and Zen Buddhism
    4. The early Hebrew religion an its development into Rabbinic Judaism
    5. The Egyptian, Greek and Roman world of classical antiquity
    6. Christianity
    7. Modern, ‘new age’ religious movements

    Prerequisites (Essential)

    Competence in English for academic purposes

    Recommended prior study (Recommended)

    Broad general knowledge of the humanities – history, geography, religious studies


    24 x 50 min lessons


    The curriculum at Ebrahim College embodies two aims: a first-class education in the traditional Islamic sciences, and a corresponding education in the modern social sciences as appropriate for the understanding and implementation of Islamic knowledge in the modern context. The programme of elective ‘contextual’ modules is designed to fulfil this second aim and this module on World Religions form part of the elective programme.

    In order to understand the significance and relevance of Islamic teachings today, it is important to understand the modern world and how it has developed historically. It is also essential to understand the diversity of non-Muslim beliefs and practices and the multiple ways in which they overlap with Islam, all the more so as we live in multicultural societies and communities where we aspire to be ambassadors for Islam.

    This module is intended to provide an overview of the world’s major religious traditions, which are still active today, and to lead to an understanding of humanity’s shared spiritual heritage.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students will;

    1. have a broad historical overview of the development of the world’s major religions over the last 4,000 years and will understand how and why they have similarities and differences

    2. be able to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each tradition studied

    3. be able to critically compare each of the traditions studied with their own developing understanding of Islam as a major social, cultural, religious and political force in the late-modern context

    Teaching and learning Staff/Student contact time: 65%
    Student private study: 35%

    (Include any other notes about teaching/learning, including guest lecturers)


    One terminal examination of 90 minutes during last lesson
    Indicative resources Textbook: The World’s Religions, by N. Smart

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