How can Rumi’s belief in loving all existence stem from the same religious tradition as ISIS’s jihadist ideology calling for unrestricted violence against everything considered “un-Islamic”? In this course, we examine changing interpretations of Islam across time and space. We study religious, intellectual, cultural, and socio-political developments in the societies of the Middle East, the heart of the Muslim world, from the emergence of Islam in the early seventh century to the present. Topics include the basic tenets of Islam and its main denominations; law, theology, mysticism, philosophy, education, and art and architecture in Muslim tradition; women and gender in Islamic history; Muslim relations with Christians and Jews; and modern intellectual trends in the Islamic world. This knowledge will help us make sense of the current events in the Middle East and reflect on their implications for our lives in a globalized world.