ISLAM AND BUDDHISM
TERM: FALL 2018
Instructor: Dr. Bert F. Breiner
Scope of the Course
This course will look briefly at the origins, beliefs, scriptures, rituals, and practices of each of the two
religions in the course title. Buddhism, the older of the two religions, represents a non-theistic religion
in which the ultimate categories used to understand and interpret the human condition do not rest on
belief in a supreme being. Islam, on the other hand, is a theistic religion in which God plays the ultimate
role in understanding the human condition. The two religions, therefore, represent an interesting
contrast of two different approaches to human religious experience.
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
✔ You must begin the Subject line of ALL your emails with “REL324_LastName_FirstName”. You
If you do not do this, your email will not be filtered correctly and YOUR EMAIL WILL NOT BE
READ IN A TIMELY FASHION.
The subject line of your email should look like this, changing ### to the appropriate course number
(REL324). Of course, the “From” line will contain your email address rather than mine.
BLACKBOARD, REQUIRED READINGS, and THE DISCUSSION BOARD
All students will be required to activate their Blackboard accounts for this course.
All required readings will be posted on Blackboard.
I will activate the “Discussion Board” in Blackboard. Students often raise good questions in
class that go beyond the level of the course and would take us too far off topic. When this
happens, I may suggest that the question be posted on Blackboard. I will respond to the question
there, and other students can also join in the discussion.
You might want to have access to a copy of the Qur’ān for the sessions on Islam. There are
several online versions that you may download and others that you can consult online, so it is not
necessary to purchase one.
✔ OFFICE HOURS
My office is in the West Building, Rm. W1241. Office hours are by appointment, and the appointment
must be made by email. My normal office hours are Mon/Thu 9:40 AM TO 10:10 AM. If you cannot
make either of these times, I will try to reschedule an office hour to accommodate you if possible.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND ASSESSMENT
Two Objective Quizzes (Average).........................................................................................40 points
There will be two objective examinations (multiple choice and matching), a midterm (Buddhism) and a
final (Islam). These examinations are designed to make sure that you are familiar with the basic
concepts of the course and important vocabulary items.
As you read, look up words with which you are unfamiliar in a dictionary (or GOOGLE them). The
lectures will assume that students have done the reading. The class lectures are not intended to simply
go over the material in the readings. The readings provide a starting point for further discussion. The
lectures will, however, attempt to clarify and expand upon the main points of the reading. At the
beginning of each class, you will be given an opportunity to identify material which was unclear to you.
The lectures will stress the most important points and explain some of the more difficult concepts.
However, you are responsible for all of the material, and it will be your responsibility to make sure
that you keep up with the reading AND that you inquire in class about anything in the reading that
was not clear.
ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT IN CLASS: You may use a computer during class to take notes and to
refer to the readings electronically. You may not, however, use them for social networking or email
during class. Please, make sure all cell phones are turned off during class. If you choose to use a
smart phone to read the material, you must print it out before coming to class.
On the course schedule you will find dates for two essays.
EACH PAPER SHOULD BE A MAXIMUM OF 7 TO EIGHT PAGES.
The two essays constitute an intellectual journal. An intellectual journal chronicles your thoughts and
any new ideas and/or questions that occurred to you in the course of your reading. The assignment is to
present what you thought about the readings (or some aspect of them) and how they affected your ideas
about the topic. The assignment does not ask you to report on new information you may have learned.
Your paper should NOT be an essay presenting the information already given in the readings – even
new information gained from outside research. It is NOT a research paper. The question I expect you to
answer in the paper is “and how does that affect your views on and understanding of anything?" Or
"and what difference does that make to you?" If your paper does not present your thoughts, ideas, and
questions, you may lose up to 15 points for not fulfilling the assignment.
(1) You will need to choose a topic from the readings. It should be something that caught your
attention; something that made you stop and think. It can be chosen from any of the assigned readings.
The material you choose to reflect upon in your paper could be just one sentence, or it could be a central
idea discussed in many places. The important thing is that it caught your attention and made you stop
(2) One way to approach an intellectual journal is to take note of what the readings make you think
about. Does a reading make you think about a person you know, an event in your life, a topic from a
different class, something you have been thinking about on your own for a long time? If so, why did it
make you think about that? What thoughts did it raise for you? Did it make you consider the subject
(person or event) in a different light or not?
(3) Obviously, the paper must include appropriate references to the assigned reading.
If you are unclear about writing your paper after reading this description, you should come see me
during my office hours, or, if you cannot possibly make any of the office hours, email me.
YOU MAY REWRITE THE FIRST PAPER IF (1) it is handed in on time, (2) you get a grade of 85
points or less, and (3) you follow all the relevant syllabus instructions. There is a checklist in the
supplement to the syllabus that you can use to make sure you have complied with the syllabus
instructions. Any rewrites are due one week after the original paper is returned to you. Please note that
a ‘rewrite’ is not an opportunity to do a completely different paper.
YOU WILL LOSE POINTS IF YOU DO NOT FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.
1. All papers must be submitted electronically. The essays are to be submitted in Microsoft Word
(NOT Works) or in odt format (used by the free software listed in the supplement to the syllabus). If
you do not have Word, the supplement to the syllabus lists some free word processors that are
compatible. The file name (with which you save your paper to disc) must have the following format —
“CourseNumber_LastName_FirstName_Assignment.doc(x)” Check the examples in the supplement
to the syllabus which is available online.
2. You should use the MLA in-text citation style. This means there must be at least one citation from
the readings and a "Works Cited" page at the end of the paper. The most recent MLA guidelines (8th
edition) have returned to the practice of requiring a URL or DOI for online resources. If you are clear
about what a URL and DOI are, you may either Google them or check the supplement to the syllabus on
3. Each page should be numbered. Use either the header or page numbering function in your
4.The short papers will be graded primarily on content, although spelling and obvious grammar
mistakes will be taken into consideration. The essays, however, assume a more thorough and careful
preparation on your part.
Good writing is clear, concise, correct, and credible. In other words, good writing is well organized,
without padding or unnecessary wordiness, grammatically correct (including spelling and
punctuation), and well-reasoned (including logical development with supporting facts and references
as needed). A clear essay is well organized. It should have an appropriate introduction and conclusion.
Each paragraph should be well constructed as well. You must underline the topic sentence in each
paragraph, so that the structure of your paper is immediately clear.
A longer paper is not necessarily better than a shorter one. In fact, repetitiveness and wordiness will
cost you points. The assignment is not onerous in terms of content or length. However, I do expect you
to proofread it several times to make sure it is well organized, factually correct, and that it contains no
errors of grammar, spelling, word use, or punctuation.
5. Each paper must include the following information in the top left of the page:
Course Name and Number
Number of Words
Student’s Email address
Name of the Assignment being submitted
Date of submission
Note that the information required is different from the usual MLA requirements.
6. ESL Dictionaries. I strongly recommend the use of an ESL dictionary as an aid to writing, even if
English is your first language. Check the supplement to the syllabus for an on-line ESL dictionary.
CRITERIA FOR ASSESSMENT OF WRITTEN WORK
(These are discussed more fully in the supplement.)
I. How well does the essay fulfill the requirements of the assignment? 15 points
II. Facts and argumentation. 20 points
III. Considerations of organization and style. 25 points
IV. Compliance with MLA style and syllabus instructions. 15 points
V. Grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage. 20 points
VI. Punctuality based on the date your email with the paper attached was sent. 5 points
TOTAL GRADE FOR PAPER 100 points
You may, with the advance permission of the professor, submit one (1) of the two essays in one of the
following languages: French, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian. The same criteria will be applied to
papers written in these languages as to papers submitted in English. Before you ask for permission to do
this, however, you should be prepared to explain why you believe this option would help you
POLICY ON INCOMPLETES
You should contact me as soon as you are aware of circumstances that would interfere with your ability
to complete the course. If, after a meeting with me, it seems that you are in a position to adequately
complete the remainder of the course, I will work with you to arrange a schedule for the completion of
the course work.
Incompletes will be allowed only under exceptional circumstances and only if most of the term has been
successfully completed (both in terms of attendance and course work). Incompletes must be requested
by the student. According to Hunter policy, a substantial portion of the coursework must have been
completed in order for an incomplete to be given. A conditional Credit/NoCredit option is also
available. Of course, you may be asked to provide appropriate documentation when you request an
THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ARE STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR THE
An ESL dictionary (see the supplement to the syllabus).
Weston, Anthony. (1992). A Rulebook for Arguments (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Raimes, A. (2002). Keys for Writers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. [This is STRONGLY
recommended as it covers all aspects of writing your paper and is an excellent resource.]
The following two resolutions were passed at the meeting of the Hunter College Senate on May 11,
“RESOLVED, that the Hunter College Senate requires that the following statement be included on all
“Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations,
obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses
against the values of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on
Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College
Academic Integrity Procedures.”
FURTHER RESOLVED, that this statement also be included in all sample syllabi submitted as part of
new course proposals.”
“RESOLVED, that the faculty at Hunter College are encouraged to use commercial and non-commercial
devices to prevent and detect some forms of plagiarism and to educate and promote student commitment
to academic integrity.”
Please note that plagiarism (the submission of anyone else's work under your name – in terms of content
or form, ideas or words, in whole or in part – will result in an F for the course. This also applies to
submission of work originally written by you but already published or submitted for another course. In
addition, there may be disciplinary action in accordance with the School's policy. Continuation in this
course will serve to indicate your acceptance of this policy. If you have any doubts about what actually
constitutes plagiarism, you may check the following web sites. Some of these sites link to further
Note especially the example of plagiarism without any direct quotes. It is not enough to just rephrase
your source in order to avoid plagiarism. Note also the reference to internet resources for tracking down
If you have a recognized disability which requires any kind of accommodation in terms of classroom
activities or assessment of required course work, it is your responsibility to let me know in writing
within the first two weeks of the term. You should also make sure that the School is aware of your
disability. Contact the Office of AccessABILITY, East 1214B (212) 772-4857, Email:
AccessABILITY@hunter.cuny.edu, FAX: (212) 650-3449, TTY: (212) 650-3230.
DAILY SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS
The midterm and final objective quizzes will be offered online. The letters RP next to a date indicate
that a “Reaction Paper” for that reading must be submitted the day before that class meets.
INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE
INTRODUCTION TO RELIGION
INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHISM
Ebook, “The Background to Buddhism”
BUDDHISM: THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Ebook c. 3; (Supplemental reading Tree c. 4)
BUDDHISM: THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Eight Steps to Freedom
Buddhist Abhidhamma Readings
Buddhist Abhidhamma Readings
Tree cc. 8-13
MON 10/8 NO CLASS
THERAVADA AND MAHAYANA
Ebook c. 6
THERAVADA AND MAHAYANA
Tree cc. 22-27
First Essay Due
Tree cc. 13, 21, 28, 29; Sigalovada Sutta
INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM
Eaton, The Destiny of Man, cc. 4-5
ISLAM: HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
Eaton, The Destiny of Man, cc. 7-8
ISLAM: THE FIVE PILLARS (SHAHĀDAH & ṢALĀT)
Mawdudi ch 5; Haneef c. 2 and c. 7
Video Presentation on Salāt
ĪMĀN: BELIEF OR FAITH
Mawdudi cc. 1-4; Haneef c. 1
THU 11/22 NO CLASS
Second Essay Due
ĪMĀN: BELIEF OR FAITH
Mawdudi cc. 1-4; Haneef c. 1
IḤSĀN: INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY
Eaton, The Destiny of Man, c. 9
Haneef cc. 5-6
Haneef cc. 8-11
SUFISM AND SHIʻISM
Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, c. 6
SUPPLEMENT TO COURSE SYLLABUS
This supplement contains.
ALTERNATIVE WORD PROCESSORS AND GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON WRITING WELL
A CHECKLIST FOR THE VARIOUS REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR PAPER (PAGE 3)
On page three, there is a checklist for the various requirements for your paper and more detailed information
about topics mentioned in the syllabus proper.
COMMON SENTENCE PATTERS (Page 8)
This is particularly helpful in illustrating the basic rules about punctuation. If you understand and learn these
patters, you will be able to deal with all the common uses of the comma, colon, and semicolon.
TWENTY COMMON ERRORS (Page 10)
As the title implies, these errors are very common. I run across them all the time. You should go over this list
several times. Each error is accompanied by a helpful explanation of what is wrong to help you avoid it in your
FIFTY COMMON ERRORS WITH COMMENTS USED IN THE MARGINS OF STUDENT PAPERS (Page
This is a longer list of common errors (mostly ESL) from a different web site. The comments in red between
the “wrong” and “right” versions of the sentence, illustrate the kind of comments you will find in the margins of
your paper when I am done grading it.
A BRIEF EXCERPT FROM WILLIAM STRUNK’S THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (Page 21)
ALTERNATIVE WORD PROCESSORS
If you do not have access to Microsoft Word, there are several free alternatives available online. One is
LibreOffice (https://www.libreoffice.org/). An very similar office suite is OpenOffice
(http://www.openoffice.org/). Both of these can read Microsoft Word files and save files in that format. They
can even read the new .docx format that Microsoft has used since Word 2007. Both are available in two
versions, one that will install on your machine and one that can be run as a portable application from a USB
drive. Both are complete suites, including a Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Database, and Presentation program.
GENERAL COMMENTS ON WRITING WELL
✔ This is a writing intensive course, and your written work must count for at least 50% of your final grade. I
am primarily looking for well-written essays. Good writing is clear, concise, correct, and credible.
• Clear: This means your writing should be clear to your reader. It is not enough if it is clear to you. The
final decision about whether your writing is clear or not must be made by the reader.
• Concise: This is related to clarity. Your writing should be as concise as possible. Most readers will lose
interest if your writing is wordy. Would you willingly read 10 pages of text if you knew that the same
amount of information could be found in a 3 page version.
• Correct: Your writing should be grammatically correct, including spelling and punctuation. Writing that
is clear and concise also tends to be more grammatically correct.
• Credible: Any facts you use to support your argument need to be either commonly accepted or supported
with appropriate documentation. Your essay should be constructed such that your conclusion follows
from the arguments in your essay. In most cases, you should be able to state your thesis in terms of one
or more logical syllogisms. If you don’t know what that means, you should definitely read the
recommended book A Rulebook for Arguments.
✔ A long paper is not necessarily better than a short one. I would much rather read a shorter essay that is clear,
concise, and correct than a longer rambling paper that doesn’t have a clear structure and is full of errors. In
some cases, errors of grammar, spelling, and punctuation can change your meaning substantially. Check the
following court case that was decided on the basis on a comma,
https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/15/health/oxford-comma-maine-court-case-trnd/index.html Students often make
a fairly constant number of mistakes per hundred words. Therefore, a long paper is likely to contain many more
mistakes and be less clear than a short one. I am looking for papers th ...
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