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Beyond the Stereotype: a Brief Introduction to Islam

From its emergence in Arabia in the seventh-century CE to its subsequent spread across the globe, Islam’s continued growth in contemporary societies is evidence of its variability, both in interpretation and practice.  Yet non-Muslim understanding of Islam continues to be stereotypic, reinforced by sensationalist media images and reports that depict the Muslim ‘terrorist’ wreaking violence on innocent bystanders or the mysterious, veiled woman leading a subjugated and sheltered existence.  While these images are very real, in the absence of a cohesive understanding of what constitutes Islam—its precepts and practices—the association of word and deed leads us to paint all Muslims with the same brush.

This two-session program aims to provide a general overview of Islam by analyzing its core beliefs – their genesis & contextual expressions; the development of Islamic practices such as the hijab; and the concept of jihad, a word that has entered our everyday speech.  Examples will be taken from across Muslim cultures to emphasize the non-monolithic nature of Islam.


About Dr. Sudeshna Baksi-Lahiri

Dr. Sudeshna Baksi-Lahiri received her BSc in Anthropology and her MA in Sociology from the University of Delhi, India. She continued her education at Cornell University, completing her Master’s en passant while working towards her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology. She received a Fulbright to conduct dissertation research in the Republic of Maldives for her PhD on women’s power and ritual politics in a traditional Islamic society.

Two Tuesdays, May 9 and 16; 6:30 pm to 8:00
At the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture
Members $45, Nonmembers $60, Member Teachers $15

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