HDS 3495

Invisibility as Sign of Majesty and Power in Religion, Politics and Law

Baber Johansen


Qur'anic exegesis describes in detail Moses' desire to see God and God's refusal to grant him this privilege. It interprets this refusal as a sign of God's majesty and power that withdraws Him from the sight of His creatures. The question whether this distance of the divine from the human will continue after the Day of Judgment is controversially discussed between different theological schools of Islam. We will discuss the influence of Greek optics on the theological and exegetical reasoning on this matter. The court protocols of Empire rulers in the Muslim world and French political theory of the 16th century insist that the rulers ought not to be seen by their subjects except at the rare occasions when they appear in public with all signs of their majesty and power.The course will focus on the complex analogy between these religious and political assumptions and the veiling rules for women. Is there a concept of female power that requires it to be hidden by the veiling? We will look for keys to answer this question in the writings of the pre-modern legal literature.We will read mainly literature in English language. If the reading of untranslated Arabic texts is necessary for the understanding of the legal, political or religious reasoning, the professor will provide translations of such texts.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: Yes


0.50 credits
Expected to be offered Fall 2015
Course times to be announced.
Course location to be announced.

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Islamic Studies
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Islam
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry None
Language Course Designation(s) None