Course Information


Welcome to IDST 29 (Islam: Identity and Culture)! This fall semester, my colleague Neela Chatterjee will be my co-teacher. She will teach the last one-third of the course. Neela is a specialist in Islamic art and architecture and will teach that unit in addition to the Unit on Women in Islam and a part of the section on Sufism. Please check her website to know about her. What you learn in this class on Islamic faith and culture will continue to amaze you with authentic and verifiable facts. It is true especially for those who have been subjected to learning about this religion through books and media that are heavily biased against Muslims.


Please treat this page as your orientation to the course. During the semester's first week (the orientation week), you will learn course navigation tips and acquire a clear understanding of the course content, assignments, and grading criteria, which are all means to enhance your enjoyment of the course.

For students who have never taken an online class before

You will be led step-by-step. You will be surprised to discover how easy it is to take an online class.

Course title: IDST 29 (Islam: Identity and Culture)

Professor: Abdul Jabbar, Ph.D.

Message phone (415-239-3792).

After you are enrolled and can access course materials, the preferred and quicker means of communication is by e-mail, using Canvas mail. Before enrollment, students can e-mail me at I answer e-mails within 48 hours during week days. On weekends and during holidays, I monitor my e-mail occasionally and answer only urgent e-mails.

100% online

This entire course is online, including all quizzes and exams. City College of San Francisco uses Canvas for online delivery of this course.

Start and end dates

It is a late-start 16-week class. It begins on September 3, 2019, and ends on December 20, 2019.

Course Objectives

Learning about Islam's basic tenets, its many contributions to civilization, its place as one of the three Abrahamic faiths together with Judaism and Christianity, and the potential of these and all other major religions to improve the quality of life and achieve peace through embracing pluralism and accepting differences respectfully.

College Catalogue Description of the Course

An interdisciplinary survey of Muslim identity and the origins, principles, and practices of Islam, comparing and contrasting them with those of other major religions. Focus on the historical development and current practices of Islam and its impact on philosophy, art, music, architecture, gender, media, popular culture, and politics.

Technical Support

The Educational Technology Department sends out a welcome message with important information on technical support to all online registered students. It will be sent to your official ccsf e-mail address.

Graduation requirements that this course meets

This course meets CCSF graduation requirements in the areas of humanities and ethnic studies; it transfers to University of California and California State University systems. This is a required course to complete our new certificate program in Critical Middle East (SWANA) Studies and for a major in this subject area for an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science (AA or AS) degree.

Honors credit

You can take this course for a letter grade, for pass/no-pass, or for Honors credit:

Honors Office Phone: 415-239-3376. Office: Cloud 214. E-mail address of the Honors Coordinator, Prof. Sami Kudsi:

Anti-Discrimination Policy Information

The San Francisco Community College District is committed to the principles of equal opportunity, and the prevention of discrimination and harassment in any program or activity of the District on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, gender, gender identity, marital status, domestic partner status, sexual orientation, disability or AIDS/HIV status, medical conditions, or status as Vietnam-era veteran, or on the basis of these perceived characteristics, or based on association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

Inclusivity Statement

Our students represent a rich diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. City College of San Francisco is committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity. To achieve that goal, the following steps are necessary:

  1. share our unique experiences, values and beliefs
  2. give respectable audience to each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner
  3. be open to the views of others as long as they fall within the limits of reasonable and civilized discourse
  4. honor the uniqueness of peers
  5. appreciate the opportunity that we have to learn from each other in this community.

Some specific points of information to make your use of Canvas easy and trouble-free


When you log into the course, on the home page you will see recent announcements link on top. Click on it for instructor's weakly messages. Treat them as instructional weekly lectures.You should check this link frequently, at least twice a week.


I use Canvas mail to send students urgent messages.


Click on Modules for all of your reading, viewing, writing, and discussion assignments. This class is module-driven. Clicking on "Modules" in the menu in system navigation will take you to "Getting started." As you scroll down, you will find links, module by module, to the complete details of your reading and viewing assignments, quizzes, the Midterm grade, Final Exam, your graded and ungraded discussion posts, and your course grade.


Under "Getting started," you are asked you to introduce yourself. Follow the linked instructions to complete that task.

Navigating Canvas and technical support

You will find this information under "Getting started."


Following the Department's suggestions and instructional methodology's recommended best practices, at the start of the semester, I am going to open assignments of about three to four weeks at a time. Research suggests that opening the entire list of reading, viewing, writing, and discussion assignments at once confuses and overwhelms students. However, if you wish to have a quick overview of the semester's graded assignments, that information is given at the bottom of the Syllabus page.

Major Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course a student will be able to:

  • Identify the origins and foundational principles and practices of Islam, comparing and contrasting them with those of other major religions.
  • Evaluate major differences among historical and current Muslim groups, including those represented in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Analyze gender equity and disparity in Muslim texts and identify notable Muslim women.
  • Compare and contrast the diversity and history of American Muslims.
  • Describe the development and spread of Islamic arts.
  • Assess the development and spread of Islamic philosophy and scientific contributions.
  • Analyze the portrayal of Islam in the media and popular culture.

Course content and organization

The course consists of 8 units organized as follows:

Unit 1: Many Paths to One God: Islam as one of the three Abrahamic faiths

Unit 2: Islam's contributions to civilization

Unit 3: Diversity in Islam: Includes coverage of Islam's main sects

Unit 4: Islam in America, includes Islamophobia and media bias at cultural and state levels

Unit 5: Islam and the West: Includes discussion of Orientalism, the clash of civilizations theories, and how contemporary Islam faces the challenge of democratization and complications of global politics

Unit 6: Women in Islam

Unit 7: Islamic art and architecture; includes Islamic music

Unit 8: Islamic philosophy; includes Sufism and Islam's philosophical literature

Only One Required textbook:

Islam: History, Religion, and Politics by Tamara Sonn (Wiley Blackwell, 2016) ISBN: 978-1-118-97230-4

This book is a lucid introduction to Islam, is very easy to read, is only 192 pages long, and costs under $30 for a new copy. Used copies are available for $15 and below.

Recommended books for optional further reading and research (in alphabetical order)

Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam by Akbar Ahmad (Brookings Institution Press, 2011)

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong (The Modern Library, 2002)

Islam: The Straight Path by John Esposito (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Intro to Islam by Carole Hillenbrand (Thames & Hudson 2015)

Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook, Ed., Charles Kurzman (Oxford University Press, 1998)

The Three Abrahamic Testaments: How the Torah, Gospels, and Qur'an Hold the Keys for Healing Our Fears by Ejaz Naqvi (White Cloud Press, 2017)

The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (HarperOne, 2004)

Domes, Arches and Minarets by Philip L. Pasquini (Flypaper Press, 2012)

What Is Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (Harper San Francisco, 2004)

What the Qur'an Meant: And Why It Matters by Garry Wills (Viking, 2017)

Frequently asked questions are answered below.

Weekly Assignments

In an online course, it is crucial to stay abreast of the assignments. Don't let yourself fall too far behind the instructional calendar. Each week's objectives and tasks should be completed in a timely manner, that is, within the week of the assignments. The quizzes and graded discussion posts on each module will be based on your reading and viewing assignments. When reading and viewing, make it a habit to keep a very brief list of the most important points. You can use such a list during quizzes.

The quality of your completed weekly assignments will determine, to a large extent, your Midterm and Final grades.


There will be short quizzes to reward you for doing your homework. Some of them will be multiple-choice type and some will require short written answers. You can easily get 100% score on those quizzes if you keep up with the assignments.

Posting assignments

There are two kinds of posting assignments. One is for the Students' discussion forum. It is meant to give students an opportunity to exchange views and help one another with course work. The posts on this forum are not graded. However, there is a reward for those who post on this forum regularly with good quality work. In borderline situations, when a student's final grade falls between two grades, the higher of the possible two grades is assigned to actively participating students.

The second kind of posts are graded, asking you to post your reflections on the reading and viewing assignments of your choice. You will also be asked to respond to at least one of your classmates' post in each posting cycle. These postings will be worth 20 points each (15 points for your post and 5 points for your comment on a peer's post).

Midterm grade

Since this late-start class is considered a short-term course, there is no formal Midterm Exam or grade, but I may give you a Midterm self-assessment graded exercise. Your Midterm grade is calculated on the basis of your work up until the designated end of the Midterm period (October 18, 2019).

Final Exam and course grade

The Final exam questions will be released at 9 a.m. on Friday, December 20, 2019, and should be answered within a 3-hour time slot before the deadline of 11:55 p.m. on the same day. Keep this date free for the exams. Contact me if it is absolutely impossible for you to take the Final on the assigned date. This exam will have multiple-choice and essay questions.

How much time you will need to put in per week

Using the prevailing academic standards, you may be spending a minimum of 9 hours per week to complete the assigned work. Students with less than college-level reading and writing proficiency may have to spend more time to keep up with the work load and do well in class.


Adding and dropping classes is the student's responsibility. Please be mindful of the relevant deadlines. Do not count on instructors to drop you. If you fail to drop before the deadline, you will end up getting an F in the class. Instructors have no choice in this respect.

Requesting the grade of incomplete

If you encounter an emergency situation and cannot finish the class on time, you can request the grade of incomplete. If your request is approved, you will have the following semester to complete the course work. Your grade of incomplete will then be changed to the grade that you actually earn.


If you are a student with a disability and would like help accessing your online course materials, please read "An important message from the DSPS for students with disabilities."

Course grade

Your work throughout the semester, including your participation in discussions, will be assessed to determine your grade for the course.

Standard grading key: 91-100% = A; 81-90 = B; 71-80 = C; 61-70 = D