The idea of Islam as an American religion can be surprising, if not polarizing.
And yet, Muslims have been a part of our country since colonial times, notes Andrea Stanton, Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences and Chair of DU’s Department of Religious Studies.
“It’s a fun religion to teach about in the U.S. because we think of Islam as a minority or immigrant religion, but we have denominations of Islam that originated in this country,” she says. “It’s a religion that actually has some very homegrown American aspects to it.”
Stanton will teach Islam in the U.S.: Belief and Practice on American Soil on September 6, 13, 20, and 27 for the Enrichment Program, which offers accessible short courses simply for the love of learning.
Stanton is a historian, not a theologian, and says that gives her a unique lens on Islam as a force in people’s lives. She began her academic career studying 20th Century events in the Middle East. But she quickly became interested in Islam as one of the world’s great religions, and the ways people embody it – or seek to influence it – in the contemporary world.
“It’s not just about reading scripture,” Stanton says. “It’s about seeing how people actually live. The reality of worship can be messy – people come in late and the audio system is questionable, and so is the air conditioning. I like thinking about the rich, complicated way humans live out their religion in practice.”
That means Stanton has studied things like online mosque-rating and mosque-finding apps, or the use of Islamic emoticons.
Stanton’s Enrichment Program course promises a dynamic venue for learning about how Islam is practiced in our nation, whether you’re coming as an afficionado of U.S. history, sociology, politics, or current affairs.
“I find that the people who take Enrichment Program courses are truly engaged, partly because they have such interesting life experiences,” Stanton says. “I love the way I’m not the only expert in the room.”
You can register for Islam in the United States or explore the rest of the Enrichment Program’s catalog.