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FIRST YEAR WRITING SEMINAR: Understanding Shari’a: Home

Course Description

The universality of shari‘a is a topic of intense debate in the contemporary world.  Some assume the universality of shari‘a as they outline the necessity of its reform. Other writers regard its universal aspirations as a “threat” to “Western” values. Still others remain skeptical that the shari‘a was ever meant to be universal.  Without answering the question of whether it is, was, or should be “universal,” this writing course investigates the debates that the question has inspired.  How do different writers perceive the universality of shari‘a?   What are the political, ethical, or other stakes of arguments about shari‘a’s universality?  Readings connect theoretical approaches to individual case studies in milieus as diverse as shari‘a courts in Ottoman Turkey, fatwa councils in contemporary Egypt, and divorce proceedings in Iran. Through creative and critical writing assignments, students explore the contexts, motives, and forms of evidence brought to bear by authors who contribute to ongoing debates about the ways we understand shari‘a today.

The First-Year Writing Seminar

All students at NYUAD need intellectually rigorous writing classes that introduce them to the fundamentals of academic argument. The first-year Writing Seminar, the Writing Program’s signature course, is a place for all first-year students to engage in a semester-long study of academic writing. By participating in small writing seminars students develop a shared understanding of what we, as an international academic community, value in written argumentation — despite our many linguistic and cultural differences.

The Writing Seminar is an introduction to the academic work students will be expected to master as they advance through the Core Curriculum and into their majors: scholarly inquiry, elements of academic argument (e.g., thesis, evidence, analysis, and structure), critical reading, and the writing process itself. It is a course in college-level reading, writing, and inspired critical thinking taught by an award-winning, widely published interdisciplinary faculty.


Dr. Andrew Bush