DU Proposes Course in Islam and International Relations, Critics Ask Why Not in Hinduism
The course expects to help students comprehend how the notion of Islamophobia has become an integral part of contemporary global affairs.
File photo of Delhi University campus (Image: du.ac.in)
New Delhi: For the first time in its history, the Political Science department of Delhi University has proposed “Islam and International Relations” to be taught at the post graduate level.
Awaiting a nod from the Academic Council (AC), the paper intends to introduce “students to the multi-layered and multi-faceted theoretical, conceptual and philosophical issues that act as roadmap when we attempt at understanding the linkages between the history, culture and theology of Islam and the structuration processes that are involved in the functioning of international relations”.
At a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Academic Affairs of Delhi University, a point was raised by an academic who questioned why other religions should be left out.
“Why just Islam and International Relations? Why can’t we study other religions as well in the arena of International Relations,” asked Dr Geeta Bhatt, an academic and a member of the AC who was present at the Standing Committee meeting.
Professor Sanjeev Kumar HM, who designed the course, told News 18 in an interview: “There was no opposition, but one suggestion was made on including other religions as well. We were asked why only Islam? Why can’t we design a course on Hinduism and International Relations or Buddhism and International Relations or Christianity and International Relations?”
He is hopeful that the course will get a nod in the AC. The Standing Committee has okayed the idea, but they think there should be designing of courses on other religions as well.
Islam and other religions?
Kumar believes that this argument of including other religions was made “to water down the idea of having a course in Islam”.
He told News 18, “Other religions can be taught under a different design – maybe a course on comparative religions in post secular International Relations, but that is going to be a different trajectory”.
He further said: “We cannot have full course on other religions and International Relations because the space you need in terms of ideas is not same with others.”
Islam and IR
Kumar said the scholarship in Islam and IR is booming and the reasons are plenty.
“Whatever has been happening, entire course of international relations has been defined in terms of one idea and that is - what is Islam and why it should be contested or protected?
“There is the whole idea of one religion and why it is so significant? “Why not Hinduism or Christianity? When there was enlightenment, there was this whole idea of reviving Christianity and Greco-Roman traditions. The entire enlightenment political philosophy and social theory centered on Greco-Roman traditions and Judaism Christian themes.”
He further emphasised that international relations is not just about relations between two countries but it is about culture, identities and differences.
He says the course is important as it is going to be a departure from “what the hegemonic traditions tell about Islam”.
The contemporary trends in the world, Kumar said, have also made the Islamic scholarship important to pursue.
“Why Islamic radicalism has spread more widely as compared to others – because of the way imperial forces, especially the US and the Europe, meddled with it,” he said.
What the Course proposal says
The course explains as to how in recent times, the genealogy and archaeology of the religious and political thought in Islam and its connection with the systemic contours of societies and political institutions has emerged to be one of the most contested subjects in humanities and social sciences.
The course then lays out as to how such an interest has been the product of the radicalisation of political Islam and the growing unhealthy interface that has developed between Islam and violence, as a result of the globalization of Jihad that has brought in the medieval notions of a contest between abode of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the land of unbelievers (Dar al-harb).
Owing to this, Islam has become a prominent element in the sphere of security studies.
The course expects to help students comprehend how the notion of Islamophobia has become an integral part of contemporary global affairs. Also, how the religion has been misrepresented in the sphere of international politics.
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