Write a report on the first chapter of Shahab Ahmed’s What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic

Stage One: Book Report (25%)
Write a report on the first chapter of Shahab Ahmed’s What is Islam? The Importance of Being
Islamic. In this chapter, Ahmed engages with six situations that further complicate the notion of
“Islam” and “being Islamic” and “being Muslim.” From the six situations, choose one to further
investigate and use one or two scholarly sources that address the same question to help you
develop an informed discussion. Upload your paper to cuLearn by 11:55PM on February 26,
2020. Late essays will be deducted 10% per day including weekends. CuLearn will disable the
upload option one week after the due date.

II. Formatting:
– Upload your papers in WORD format ONLY. Papers uploaded as PDF will be assigned a grade
but given no in-text feedback.
– Your paper must be between 1500 and 2000 words.
– Double spaced, Times New Roman and 12-point font.
– Include a cover page with this information: paper’s title, submission date, your name, student
number, course title and code, instructor’s names, and the word count.
– Use footnotes, not endnotes and not in-text citations.
– Include a copy the Grading Rubric (on cuLearn). Just copy it and paste it at the very end of
your report (after the Bibliography). Do not upload it as a separate file or attach it as image.

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It is vital that you cite throughout your paper. Not citing is an act of plagiarism which may result
in forwarding your paper to the Dean’s Office for violation of academic integrity.
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Use Chicago Notes and Bibliography (NOT Chicago Author Date) for footnotes and bibliography.

Writing Instructions
1. Reading:
Read Shahab Ahmed’s chapter with a focused eye. In other words, read it with the intention not to
summarize every single idea that he says about the subject, but with the goal of “establishing your
own area of interest in the reading.”
In the assigned chapter, Ahmed reflects on six main situations where the meaning of the term
“Islam” and the question of “being Islamic” and “being Muslim” is further complicated. At the end,
you must focus on only one of these six situations. This is very important because your choice will
define both the theme you will cover and the external source or sources you will cite and use.
2. Summarizing:
Reading with the aim to establish an area of focus will help you develop a summary that is useful,
since your summary will be shaped by the theme/topic in the book that interests you.
Avoid a summary that tries to cover every idea and thought. Instead, your summary must: (1) give a
clear idea of the main argument and heart of Ahmed’s discussion, and (2) press more on the theme
of your interest. See “Summarizing Chapter” on cuLearn/course/ Assignments for tips.
3. Finding and Using Scholarly Sources:
Find one or two sources to give you a deeper understanding of one of the six questions in Ahmed’s
chapter that you with to further explore.
Start your research at Carleton Library’s page: http://www.library.carleton.ca
Your sources must be scholarly, such as a journal article, book or book chapter. NO Wikipedia, NO
blogs, NO newspapers and NO opinion pieces from online sources.
Your source must be an academic study that address the question of your discussion, NOT a
general survey of Islam.
For example, a proper source has a title such as, “Ritual and Law in the Sufi practices of a South
Asian Community,” not “Islam in History.”
V. Paper’s Structure:
Your paper must consist of a proper introduction, several body paragraphs and a conclusion.
1. Introduction:
Write a proper introduction which includes a clear thesis statement. Your introduction must:
– Identify the subject of the book and the author’s position and main argument (if he has one).
– Identify the author’s name, book title, and any other necessary information.
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– Include a thesis statement that shows your niche of interest in the reading and your position
(if you agree, disagree or being indifferent).
2. Body Paragraphs:
There is no limit on the number of body paragraphs you can write. A good practice is designate
one paragraph for one key argument, idea or theme. For example:
– Paragraph 2 gives a summary of the general discussion in the chapter (all six questions).
– Paragraph 3 gives a summary of the specific question you engage with (one of the six
– Paragraph 4 brings both together and introduces your position/reflection on the matter.
– Paragraph 5 brings in the external discussion and summarizes it (the source that further
discusses one of the six questions).
– Paragraph 6 analyses the discussion using the external source.
– Paragraph 7 gives a general evaluation of the book highlighting its strengths and weakness
and indicates its significance for the study of Islam.
3. Conclusion:
End your paper with a paragraph that brings your discussion to a firm conclusion. You can do
this by giving a condensed summary of your paper or the reviewed book, or a set of questions
that open the conversation for further deliberation. Whichever style you follow, make sure
that your conclusion communicates clearly that you have come to an end.
VI. The Critical Discussion:
– Situate Ahmad’s text within the intellectual context where it was written. Notice that he often
talks in conversation with other scholars and think about who are his interlocutors and what
are their views on the subject (i.e., Ahmed’s argument vs. the others’). Defining the context of
the book’s discussion is important since you, too, will have to talk in conversation with Ahmad
and his interlocutors, and others in your external source.
– Use scholarly sources only, support your claims with clear evidence, and cite where necessary.
– If you critique Ahmad, make sure you understand his views well and present them accurately.

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