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This essay reflects on a critical incident that occurred during a seminar discussion about the age of Aishah at the time of her marriage to the prophet Muhammed. I take students’ discomfort with the material and their expression of emotions – especially their desire to love Islam – as an opening to think about the opportunities and challenges of working with students’ emotions in the classroom. I begin by problematizing love (or the want of it) as an Islamophilic response to students’ awareness of the dangers of Islamophobia. I then go on to entertain the possibility of embracing love as a ‘productive’ emotion that offers insights into the study of Islam and Muslims. While I caution against the traps of Islamophilia, I take love as an important and perhaps overlooked dimension of pedagogy. This is one of three essays published together in a special topic section of this journal on critical incidents in the classroom.
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