Non-Violence & Peace Studies

Module Overview

This course aims to provide a substantive understanding of nonviolence and peace studies' foundations and applications from reliable academic sources. The course starts by understanding the sources of power in the hands of rulers in dictatorships and democracies alike and how the way we think of power defines how we react to violence. It later discusses the limits of violent and destructive strategies in achieving their stated ends, and how nonviolent strategies present themselves as better alternatives on both practical and moral measures. Moreover, the course will expose students to a set of Muslim nonviolent strategists starting from the Prophet Muhammad's (SAWS) methods of dealing with his opposition to Shaykh Amadou Bamba's anti-colonial resistance in Senegal, and how they were all inspired by their faith in their struggle. It will also present the case for nonviolence as a fundamental ethical principle in Islam. The course will cover tens of different nonviolent strategies to persuade opposition or resist oppression, economically, socially, or politically. It will present an extensive history of the successful use of nonviolence across history through various methods and in different places around the world. Finally, it will compare, with the support of history and statistical studies, the short-term and long-term effectiveness of violence and nonviolence in solving conflicts. Finally, the course will provide a broad explanation of how and why nonviolence indeed works better than violence.

Topics covered

  • What are the full costs of war?
  • Can there be realistic alternatives to war and violence?
  • Can we compare the results of nonviolent struggles versus violent struggles?
  • Do Muslims have a history of nonviolent action against authoritarian rulers and occupiers?
  • How can peaceful methods enable people to defeat violent opposition?

Learning Outcomes

  • Become highly acquainted with the popular and academic literature on nonviolence and peace studies
  • Understand why war and violence are highly costly and inefficient methods of solving conflicts and moral dilemmas.
  • Confidently explain what nonviolent action is and how it is different from pacifism.
  • Obtain a strong background regarding the extensive use of nonviolent struggle across Muslim history.
  • Recall a broad set of nonviolent strategies (e.g., boycotts, strikes, etc.) that have historically replaced violence successfully.
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