Review Comment

Islam (Intro)

February 20, 2006

Awn, Peter Silver_nugget
Islam (Intro)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I can't believe anyone could say it's hard to get an A in this class. There is a lot of reading and I think 4 8-page essays, but Awn grades all the essays himself, which means he does so very quickly, and I never got below an A-. True, I was lucky enough to have Awn as my section leader as well, since our original section leader had to leave (and luckily, cause based on the first class he didn't seem to know anything about Islam).
Anyway, watching Awn lecture is a treat, and he is fascinating, down to earth and hilarious. Plus it's a joy to listen to his arguments, which are always level-headed, without being anti-religion. He obviously loves lecturing, and tells stories better than any other religion professor I've had. I'll admit I got a bit lost in the history of Islam at some point, but I didn't really keep up with the reading. He does a good job of clearly providing basic points of interest in the history of Islam.

Workload:

midterm, final, 4 8-page essays, lots of reading...but also lots of fun website links on courseworks. i thought the work was fun.

July 17, 2005

Awn, Peter Silver_nugget
Islam (Intro)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Awn is a great lecturer. Other than that, there isn't anything that great about this class; and it's not really his fault since it's ridiculous to try and cram so much into a single semester intro.
Problems that should make you think twice:
-Too much material (readings weren't too heavy, but very scattered, without much context, and as a Muslim, still confusing without proper guidance; I found myself correcting things and suggesting alternatives that Awn and his TA's just didn't offer in class; consider that a warning for those of you who don't have any background in this religion;)
-VERY vague topics: on both tests and papers, the topics were very strangely worded, and very amorphous so that there was little to grasp on to and structure an argument around; for Muslims: given the way you may have learned about Islam--that is to say with years of quotes and lessons from here and there, memorization, debate -- this class will be very strange. Awn does not allow for debate at all, just regurgitation of his (while certainly erudite) single view.
-The amount of work for papers and tests is hefty, and you still might not do great. This is certainly not a very difficult class: an easy B/B+ but a very difficult A, no matter what your level is. Remember to write very simple, uncluttered papers; do NOT take any outside source or personal viewpoint (he will say "he doesn't understand it" no matter how well you support and argue your point)

Overall: you will learn some new things, and Awn to his credit is an extremely engaging and entertaining lecturer, who has had the awful luck of having to teach such a complicated course without dumbing it down while having to combat preconceptions and misinformation (sometimes with only one explanation, instead of the many that actually exist).
You'll have to devote a lot of time to get an A; TALK TO HIM AND THE TA's; only then will you get an idea of exactly what they want you to write; don't be 'daring' with your essays unless you don't mind a slightly worse grade.

Workload:

Three papers of 8 pages (no less no more) each (though it was supposed to be four)
Midterm and final (reading checks, but still very vague and irritating; it's one of those things where you only understand the question after the assignment is over and he's told you what he's wanted.) Approachable man.

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