Undergraduate Course: God of the Oppressed: Liberation Theologies in Christianity and Islam (DIVI10048)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Using a comparative framework, this course offers a thematic overview of liberation theology's development in Christianity and Islam, asking how socially concerned Christians and Muslims have (re)read their respective faith traditions to confront the problem of oppression.
In an unjust world, what role can religion play in the struggle for human rights and the alleviation of suffering? This is the question that drives liberation theology, one of the most influential theological movements of the twentieth-century. Using a comparative framework, this course offers a critical overview of liberation theology's development in Christianity and Islam. After analyzing the historical origins of liberation theology, we will examine a number of thematic categories, including class, race, and gender. Throughout the course, students will reflect on the following larger questions: How does social context shape our understanding of God, scripture, and religion as a whole? Whose lived experience gets to become 'the norm', the point of departure for theological reflection? How is religious authority construed and what are its social ramifications? Finally, how have Christians and Muslims (re)interpreted the Bible and Qur'an, respectively, through a liberating lens? That is, which new methods are they using, how do they depart from inherited, traditional methods, and what are the possibilities and potential pitfalls of these new methods?
This course is based on comparative analysis, encouraging students to draw linkages (and discrepancies) between Christian and Muslim contexts. The weeks alternate between Christianity and Islam - rather than having half of the course devoted to Christianity and the other half to Islam - precisely to encourage such comparative reflection. Hence, it is the categories of analysis (namely: class, race, and gender) which are the driving frameworks of the course, contrasting Christian and Islamic perspectives. The course concludes by assessing criticisms of liberation theology by the Vatican and mainstream Islamic seminaries.
A Note on Teaching Format:
The lectures will be in-person and all students are expected to have completed the weekly readings before the lecture. This will be particularly important for the tutorial that will directly follow the lecture, as the tutorial will be discussion-based and students should be prepared to engage the issues, questions, and perspectives raised in the readings. If any students need to self-isolate, the lectures will be recorded and the tutorials will be streamed live (though not recorded). This digital option is only a last resort; unless they are sick or self-isolating, students must be present at both the lectures and tutorials.
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 11,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||10% - Participation
30% - Critical Review: Students will submit a book review (1,000 words), outlining the argument of the work, its strengths, weaknesses, and wider contribution to the field. Students can choose a title from a list that will be circulated by the instructor. Alternatively, they can pick a title of their own choice, as long as it is first approved by the instructor
60% - Final Research Essay: The essay will be 2,500 words on a topic related to liberation theology. The essay should have a clear argument that is systematically evidenced. Detailed guidelines will be provided in class.
||Students will receive formative oral feedback, early in the semester, on their essay topics, and the sources, perspectives, and debates that they intend to engage.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Gain an appreciation of the social relevance of religion in the 21st century, especially in relation to human rights and justice.
- Familiarise students with the key figures, scholarly literature, and conceptual debates within the field of liberation theology.
- Appreciate the diverse, interfaith history of liberation theology (including Black and feminist theology) by exploring the interconnections between the world's two largest religions.
- Read texts comparatively and contextually, examining un/shared assumptions, audiences, social environments, and histories.
- Compose a research essay in a focused and nuanced fashion, carefully channeling the data to evidence the essay's argument.
Leonardo Boff and Clodovis Boff, Introducing Liberation Theology. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1999.
Dwight N. Hopkins and Edward P. Antonio eds. The Cambridge Companion to Black Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Jerusha T. Lamptey, Divine Words, Female Voices: Muslima Explorations in Comparative Feminist Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
Shadaab Rahemtulla, Qur'an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.
Christopher Rowland ed. The Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Shabbir Akhtar, The Final Imperative: An Islamic Theology of Liberation. London: Bellew, 1991.
Kecia Ali, Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur'an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence. Oxford: Oneworld, 2006.
Naim Ateek, Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Liberation Theology. New York: Orbis, 1989.
Asma Barlas, 'Believing Women' in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.
Katie Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Patrick Cheng, Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology. New York: Seabury Books, 2011.
James Cone, A Black Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2010, anniversary ed.
Rebecca S. Chopp, The Praxis of Suffering: An Interpretation of Liberation and Political Theologies. Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2007.
Sathianathan Clarke, Dalit Theology in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Tia Cooper, The Re-emergence of Liberation Theologies: Models for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Edward E. Curtis, Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-75. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.
Hamid Dabashi, Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire. Abingdon: Routledge, 2008.
Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.
Marc Ellis, Towards a Jewish Theology of Liberation. London: SCM Press, 2002, reprint.
Asghar Ali Engineer, Islam and Liberation Theology: Essays on Liberative Elements in Islam. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1990.
Farid Esack, Qur'an, Liberation, and Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective on Interfaith Solidarity against Oppression. Oxford: Oneworld, 1997.
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.
Mary Fulkerson, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Gustavo Gutiérrez. A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1973.
Gustavo Gutiérrez and Gerhard Muller, On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2015.
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation. Rider: 1999, reprint.
Dwight Hopkins, The Cambridge Companion to Black Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Lisa Isherwood, ed. Controversies in Queer Theology. London: SCM Press, 2011.
Sherman Jackson, 'Islam and Affirmative Action' Journal of Law and Religion (14:2) 1999-2000.
Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Yung Suk Kim, ed. Reading Minjung Theology in the Twenty-First Century. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013.
Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle, Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims. Oxford: Oneworld, 2010.
Kwok Pui Lan, Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology. London: SCM Press, 2010.
Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, The Jesus of Asian Women. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2006.
Susan Parsons, The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Ivan Petrella, The Future of Liberation Theology: An Argument and Manifesto. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004.
Aloysius Pieris, An Asian Theology of Liberation. London: T&T Clark, 1988.
Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes. New York: Orbis, 2014.
Anantanand Rambachan, A Hindu Theology of Liberation. New York: State University of New York Press, 2015.
Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology. Abingdon: Routledge, 2000.
Joerg Rieger ed., Religion, Theology, and Class: Fresh Engagements after Long Silence. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Towards a Feminist Theology. London: SCM Press, 2010, reprint.
Juan Segundo, Liberation of Theology. Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2002.
Ali Shari'ati, Religion versus Religion, translated from Persian by Laleh Bakthiar. Chicago: Kazi Publications, 2003.
Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator: A Historical Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth. London: Continuum International Publishing, 1994.
Amanullah de Sondy, 'Prophecy and Masculinities: The Case of the Qur'anic Joseph' CrossCurrents 61:4 (2011): 529-39.
Amina Wadud, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2006.
Amina Wadud, Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Delores Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1993.
Kim Yongbock, ed. Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1984.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||- Curiosity for learning and openness to different debates and perspectives
- Willingness to think comparatively, discerning both the similarities and differences between different liberation theologies
- Finely-tuned skills of close, contextualized reading and critical analysis
- Ability to communicate effectively with others, both orally and in writing
|Keywords||Religion and Politics,Liberation Theology,Feminist Theology,Black Theology,Islamic Thought
|Course organiser||Dr Shadaab Rahemtulla
Tel: (0131 6)50 8954
|Course secretary||Miss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227