Islam and Islamic Culture in Morocco

Maymester 2004

Professor Kenneth Honerkamp

Department of Religion


Location: American Language Center, Marrakech, Morocco

1. COURSE ID: RELI 4310/6310


COURSE TITLE: Islam and Islamic Culture in Morocco



The class will use an analytical method that willfacilitate student understanding of Islam and Islamic culture in Morocco.This method will provide the student with a window from which to view the Islamic world and also his/herown world.The course will both cover the basic characteristics of Islamic beliefs and practices as well as explore some of the most significant aspects of Islamic culture in Morocco, in particular, the aspects of Moroccan Islamic culture that revolve around the mosque, the palace, the marketplace, the madrasa, the Sufi zawiyah and tombs of saints.Emphasis will also be placed on Moroccan music and art and architecture.


Acquire facility with some essential Islamic texts in Arabic (if they have sufficient language training ).

Maintain a diary of the trip, uploading it to the program website.

Either do a research paper or do religiologically based interviews with Moroccan cultural or religious figure.

5. GRADING SYSTEM: A – F, by means oftests and weekly essay/diaries.

6. CREDIT HOURS:one two hour class per day, everyday six days a week (plus more hours when travelling), equaling 55 contact hours, 4 credit hours


This is a maymester summer abroad program and will thus entail, with the course work,extensive travel throughout Morocco and homestays with Moroccan families.The educational experience of this course will be of an on-going “immersion” type.

REPEAT POLICY: Course can be repeated for credit


TEXTS:Readings in the course packet that will be supplied.

Course Objectives

The aim of the course is to introduce students to an in-depth and first-hand understanding of Islam and Islamic culture in Morocco, to present a broad view of the socio-religious and socio-political issues that are shaping the Islamic world of today, and to give students a framework for understandingthe complex relationship between Islam and the West in modernity.

Course Outline and Schedule

Schedule for the year 2001 (the schedule for 2004 will be similar except the course will begin close to May 10 and end close to June 7)
May 17, Thursday 
: Fly to Morocco, leaving Atlanta at 4:25 pm.

May 18, Friday:- Arrive Frankfurt at 7:20 am; Leave Frankfurt at 9 am, arriving at Casablanca Airport 10:30 am.

- Depart Casablanca for Marrakech at 12:30 PM

- Arrive at Marrakesh 3:30 pm., meet homestay families at the American Language Center

- Afternoon and evening free

aWeek 1 May 19 to May 25

May 19, Saturday - Part 1: Orientation and Introduction to the Islamic cultural world, Overview

- Marrakesh: Where city and country meet - The Basin (al-Haouz)

- Orientation: Walk around town, banks, Post Office, ALC and computer and e-mail sites; social mores and basic etiquette

May 20, Sunday - Free

May 21, Monday 

- Brief overview of the history of Islam in Morocco, emphasizing from the Colonial period until today (1hr.)

- Introduction to Religiology, comparative worldviews, Modernity; significance of reactions to culture shock. (1hr..)

May 22, TuesdayPart 2: In Depth Survey of the Core Islamic Worldview

- Epistemology: Sources of knowledge in Islam

May 23, Wednesday 

- Ontology : Muslim beliefs about Reality, God, the Hereafter

- Anthropology : Muslim beliefs about the nature of humans and human relationships in the world and afterlife

- Psychology : Muslim beliefs about the nature and faculties of  consciousness

May 24, Thursday 

- Guided historical visit of the Old City and its monuments

May 25, Friday 

- Teleology : the purpose of life in Islam

- Methodology of Islam

- Overview of Islamic institutions for implementing methodology: The Mosque, madrasa, palace, qadi, home, souq (agriculture), bazaar (crafts/trade), fortified city (jihad), zawiya (brotherhoods) and tomb.

aWeek 2 May 26 to June 1: Part 3: The Expression of Islam in Morocco

May 26 to May 28, Saturday, Sunday and Monday

- Depart for trip to the southeastern region of Morocco: Tamagrout, Dra Valley,  Nasiri Zawiya

- brief road talks: Moroccan geography, agriculture, Berbers and Arabs. 

May 29, Tuesday 

- Sunnah, Zuhd, Genesis of Sufism and Sufi Orders

- Zawiya / Sufi Pedagogy and means of transmission / Sufi ritual, Saint’s  Tomb

May 30, Wednesday

- Day trip to Tinmil fortified mosque

- brief road talk on the Muwahhidine and Ibn Toumert

May 31, Thursday 

- Quran, a Moroccan Institution

- The Mosque: its Social and Religious roles

June 1, Friday 

- Madrassa system of Morocco (rural and urban)

- Sufism in Morocco: Yesterday and Today

a Week 3 - June 2 to June 8 : Part 3 :The Expression of Islam in Morocco

June 2, Saturday 

- Feedback session over tea and Moroccan cakes

- Concert in the evening: Moroccan music

June 3, Sunday Free

June 4, Monday , Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 

-Visit Casablanca and Rabat

June 5, Tuesday - depart for Fes from Rabat - arrive in Fes early afternoon

- Lecture : Fes: a city founded by a saint - delivered from the Merinide Tombs

- Doorways to Islamic Art

June 6, Wednesday Fes 

- The Islamic City and Civil Society

- Andalusian influences in Morocco

-Lecture : Fatima Saddiqi : The Situation of Women in Morocco


June 7, Thursday Fes

- Traditional Crafts and Social Values

- Saint as Exemplar : Ibn Abbad, scholar and shaykh

- free afternoon and evening

June 8, Fridayreturn to Marrakech

- brief road talk : Worldly and spiritual travelling

aWeek 4 June 9 to June 14

June 9, Saturday 

- Saints of Marrakech : a pilgrimage to the Old City

June 10, Sunday - Free

June 11, Monday

- The bazaar, lifeblood of the Islamic City - guided tour of local crafts

- Classical Islamic Values and the Islamic City 

June 12, Tuesday

- Student presentations / discussions : Moroccan realities / American  responses /  religiological synthesis

- brief summary : Islam, coherence and modernity

- brief summary : Islam and Equilibrium

June 13, Wednesday

- Leave Marrakech - Arrive Casablanca; Fly from Casa at 1:40 pm to Frankfurt, arriving at 7:15 pm. Overnight at a hotel near the airport.

June 14, Thursday

- Fly out of Frankfurt at 10:25 am, arriving Atlanta at 2:20 pm.


This course will abide strictly by the standards of academic honesty set forth in the University of Georgia publication “A Culture of Honesty” Policy on Academic Honesty