Introduction to Islam, 600-1300

**This course will be conducted entirely in English including lectures, class discussions, student presentations, and written assignments.**
Islam is one of human civilization’s great religions. There are more than one billion Muslims living all over the world today. Politics in the Middle East and the broader Islamic world play important roles in international relations. For these and many other reasons it is crucial to have an understanding of the history of Islamic societies.
This course covers the first half of Islamic history from 600 to 1300 C.E. At the beginning of this period, Arab Muslims established a new religion and empire at the intersections of religions: Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian faiths and the crossroads of empires: Roman and Sasanian states in the Middle East. Within in this context, we will study the construction of Muslim empires and the dynamics of life in Islamic societies during the classical and medieval periods.
The course concludes in the 1300s, a pivotal moment when Islamic societies had to find a response to Turkish, Latin Christian (Crusader), and Mongol invasions that contributed to the fragmentation of Islamic civilization. By studying early Islamic history, we can witness the construction of such a major civilization from its very origins.
The period we study has received an enormous amount of attention over the last few years. Today’s Islamists and their opponents all look to the Prophet Muhammad and the community he established as an ideal and true representation of Islam to be copied or even reestablished. Contrary to seeing the past from such ideological perspectives, we will approach the study of early Islam from a historical perspective. We will examine the historical circumstances that led to the establishment of a new faith, why peoples adopted these beliefs, and how Muslims shaped new societies.
Introduction to Islam, 600-1300
Discussion section (伊斯蘭文明研導)
Wednesday 10:20-11:10 in 普通╴Pǔtōng 301
In addition to the main course, students are encouraged to enroll in the discussion section. In this small-group class, students will have an opportunity to learn more about and discuss the readings. I will also work closely with students to develop important skills of analysis, interpretation, framing, and presentation. The discussion section is worth one credit and to take it, you must to enroll in it online. You cannot only take the discussion section, without taking the lecture course. Auditors are not allowed in the discussion section. Grading will be based on the quantity and the quality of participation in discussions.
This course will examine a variety of historical topics:
The life of the Prophet Muhammad
The division of the Muslim community into Sunni, Shii, and other sects (religious groups)
The lives of women and diverse ethnic and religious communities
Literary and material culture
The spread of the faith to Asia, Africa, and Europe
The interrelationship and friction between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism
This course will study a variety of historical concepts:
The nature and functions of premodern empires
The nature and effects of diversity in human experience
The nature and effects of decentralization in human experience
Encounters between mobile and sedentary societies
Evolution and development of social structures
This course will help students develop a variety of skills:
The ability to read, write, and converse in English
Analyze and interpret original sources in English translation College of Liberal Arts Main Campus Class sessions: Students must attend all class sessions. Lectures and class discussions will provide information that is not covered in the readings and interpretations to help you understand the history. You should take careful notes. Please stop me if you have any questions about the history or language during lecture.
Readings: You will be reading around 50 pages of English text per week. Readings will consist of chapters from a textbook, scholarly articles, and original sources. All readings will be available as pdfs and may be downloaded from CEIBA. Please read texts assigned for the appropriate class session. By reading and absorbing information from these texts, you will learn the most in lectures and discussions. You should take careful notes on the readings.
Class discussions: Together we will discuss information presented in lectures and readings. Discussions are opportunities to practice thinking about ideas, concepts, and theories presented in readings. By sharing thoughts and asking questions, we can explore the fascinating history of Islamic societies more deeply and directly.
Exams: There will be three exams. The first one will ask you to locate physical and political geographic features on maps. The second exam will require you to identify historical terms such as names, places, events, and dates, and discuss their significance. The third exam presents select passages from class readings for you to identify and comment on their significance. This exam will demonstrate that you have digested readings and analyzed their importance. Keep in mind that in lectures and discussions I will help you understand the readings and how they fit into the broader history. Taking good notes in class lectures and discussions will therefore help you prepare for this exam.
Final essay: The course will end with a final essay four pages in length (1250 words). I will hand out the essay assignment towards the end of the semester. Please be aware that for the essay I will ask a question that will require you to analyze and provide examples from what you have learned from the entire course. This essay question will reflect the analytical-style questions that I will be constantly asking you in lectures and discussions during the semester. Yuen-Gen Liang 40 Tuesday 7,8,9 Hist2219 (103E52730) 3 (College of Liberal Arts) Department of History
*Registration eligibility: undergraduates.