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Study of Religion



Module 1: Research Essay (compulsory)


Under the individual guidance of a supervisor, learners will draft, revise, write and present a scholarly essay of approximately 15 000 words.

Module 2: African Spirituality

General traditional concepts and practices of pre-colonial indigenous people in Africa.

Module 3: Indigenous Religions and Ecology


Ecology (a philosophical science with an activist agenda) and indigenous religious traditions (actual dynamic societies) are studied comparatively.

Module 4: The Influence of Modernization on African Indigenous Religion

The changes prompted by Western modernization that influence religious, economic, political and social life of African indigenous people.

Module 5: African Indigenous Religion and other Indigenous Religions of the World

A comparative study of the commonalities and the differences between African Indigenous Religion and indigenous religions world-wide.

Module 6: The Divine in Religions

The universal human need for the construction of the “divine” and comparison of diverse discourses on the “divine” in various religions.

Module 7: Religions and Science

The relation of different religions to pre-, modern and post-modern worldviews in the religion-science debate.

Module 8: Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (compulsory)

The different methods and theoretical approaches in the study of religion, highlighting the complexity of this universal human phenomenon.

Module 9: Liberation Theologies in Religions

The origins and approaches of some prominent liberation theologies (e.g. political, gender, ecological) in diverse religions and their contribution to a fair and just society.

Module 10: The Context of Early Christianity

Selected themes from the Greco-Roman and Jewish religious, social, political & cultural contexts in which Christianity emerged.

Module 11: The Bible as Literature

A critical study of the Bible as literature including the utilization of different methodological approaches in biblical exegesis and interpretation; and theological and ethical issues of the biblical texts.

Module 12: The Christian Tradition

A study of the Christian Tradition as it grew and developed in history, including its organization and religious life, worship and non-canonical literature.

Module 13: Christianity and Contemporary Issues

Identify, describe and evaluate problems and provide solutions related to major issues in contemporary Christian debate e.g. gender & sexuality; eco-theology, body criticism; Christian cosmology and evolution. This will also include guided reading of main debates surrounding any major idea, institution or practice in modern Christianity.

Module 14: Biblical Texts

Reading and translation of selected texts from the Hebrew Bible; analyzing morphology and syntax as well as other linguistic aspects; comparing variant readings of the Hebrew Bible; using biblical commentaries and other auxiliary works in line with past scholarly research activity.

Module 15: Mishnah and Talmud

Selected aspects from: the compilation history of the Mishnah and Talmud, introduction to the theological system and reasoning processes of rabbinic Judaism as reflected in the age of Formative Judaism, translation skills and study of rabbinic reasoning processes from selected mishnaic and talmudic texts.

Module 16: Targums and Interpretative Texts

The contexts and functions of Targums; characteristics of targumic Aramaic dialects; targumic translation procedures; translation of selected targumic texts; translation and interpretation of selected midrashic texts.

Module 17: Judaism and Contemporary Issues

Selected themes from Hebrew literature, Jewish History (Ancient, Second Temple, Middle-Ages, and Contemporary), Jewish Politics (Theories, Political movements, Zionism, the Land of Israel), Jewish Culture (Orthodox and Secular trends, Literary and non-Literary Sources), Jewish Themes (Jewish Life-cycle, Jewish Feasts, and Sociological Aspects), Jewish Philosophers, and Jewish Studies as field of Research (Identifying and Evaluating Sources).

Module 18: Studies in Hadith

History and functions of hadith literature in Islamic civilization, the use and abuse of the words of the Prophet Muhammad in the fields of law, theology, Sufism and communal identification. Various methods Muslims used to uncover forged traditions and Western criticisms of the hadith tradition. Debates the Muslim world today about the proper role of hadith in interpreting Islam.

Module 19: Islam and Gender

The impact of modernity, post-modernity, the gender activism on traditional notions of gender are examined. The course will cover Women and the Qur’an and Hadith, contending notions of Islamic feminism, traditional gender activism, Gender and Sufism, Islamic Masculinities and Women in Muslim Family Law etc.

Module 20: Islamic Spiritual Tradition

Mystical experience and philosophy through an inquiry into Sufism. The course examines Sufism from several directions: it surveys individual mystics and Sufi martyrs; studies the social organization of Sufi communal life and religious practice; explores the symbolism of mystical poetry; analyzes the ideas of prominent Sufi philosophers; and traces the development of Sufism in Africa in general, and more specifically in South Africa.

Module 21: Selected Arabic Texts (Tafsir)

This module will draw on the interest of the class and/or instructor to select a theme for its content. Content will focus largely on an examination of the exegetical and linguistic methodologies of both classical and contemporary Arabic commentators of the Qur’an. All the texts studies will be in Arabic.

Module 22: The Qur’an and its Major Themes

Various approaches to the Qur’an and its exegesis as an historical document and as the foundational text of Muslim believers. The contested ‘history’/history of the text, notions of revelation, and some of the key genres of traditional qur’anic studies such as abrogation, occasions of revelation, variant readings etc., The major themes of the Qur’an, how these are appropriated by various claimants to religious authority in the contemporary Muslim world and the role of the text plays in the social and religious lives of Muslims.

Module 23: The Shari’ah and Constitutional Democracies

A variety of perspectives and approaches to Islamic Law and the complexities of the demand for its adaptation inside liberal constitutional democracies Sough as South Africa. The history and development of Islamic Legal Theory on the one hand and the diversity of classical legal systems on the other. An investigation of certain paradigm shifts within the broader juristic discourses of Islamic Jurisprudence” particularly the Maqasid and al-Fiqh al-Aqalliyat (The Fiqh of Minorities).

Module 24: Critical Issues in Contemporary Islam

Insights into debates in the Muslim world around some of the critical issues arising from the encounter with modernity and post-modernity as Muslims struggle to remain faithful to tradition Issues are covered under the following four sub-themes a) Introducing Islam. Tradition, Text and Authority b) Democracy, Pluralism, Justice and Human Rights c) Jihad, non-violence and Peace and d) Gender, sexual identity and HIV & AIDS.