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University of North Florida/Paul Halsall/Spring 2005
ASH 3932 AE 072: Islamic History to 1798
ASH 5935 AA 021: Islamic History to 1798

UNF: Islamic History to 1798

Note: The Online Syllabus May Still Change

Office: Building 8, Room 2215.
Office Hours: Tues:12:30-1:30, Thu 12:30-1:30, 3-6 and by appointment
Class Hours: Building 15/Room 1304: Tues/Thu 10:50-12.05
Office Tel: (904) 620 1856
Email: phalsall@unf.edu
Class Website: www.unf.edu/classes/islamichistory/
Islamic Studies Page: www.fordham.edu/halsall/islam/islamsbook.html
Islamic Bibliography: www.unf.edu/classes/islamichistory/islam-bibliography.htm

The Course

Islamic History to 1798 examines the Islamic world from its origins, c.600 CE until the decline of the last of the great Muslim gunpowder empires in the 18th century. Acknowledging that modern Muslims constantly appeal to the early centuries for guidance in politics, law, social and personal morality, and religious belief, the first half of the course will concentrate on the religious, political, and cultural achievements of the united Islamic world. The unity of Islam did not last, and the Islamic world became the location of a series of political formations and regional cultures whose variety and scope is hardly known in the West. The second half of the course will focus on the spread of Islam in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, the success of Islamic "gunpowder" states in the early modern period, and the crisis they faced at the end of the 18th century with the rise of Western industrial military might. Our approach to Islamic history will be interdisciplinary combining the approaches of history, literary analysis, religious studies, and art history.

The course is informed by a definition of culture drawn from the sinologist Patrica Ebrey. It sees culture as the system of shared ideas and meanings, explicit and implicit, which a people use to interpret the world and which serve to pattern their behavior. This concept of culture includes an understanding of the art, literature, and history of a society, but also less tangible aspects such as practices, attitudes, prejudices, folklore and so forth. It is especially useful in the study of Islam, where we find a constantly expanding religious culture that repeatedly succeeded in incorporating and "Islamicizing" entire peoples and regions. Important works by Muslim authors and other cultural creators are required for every single class of the syllabus. A great deal of effort has been expended to make sure this cultural wealth is presented using all multi-media methods world wide web and Blackboard based aspects of the course offer students access to Islamic images and music at all times.


ASH 3932 AE Islamic History to 1774 is A 3000 level history course. It is focused on a study of the medieval and early modern Islamic world with the aim of introducing students to this essential area of world history. In a modern world where conflict between Islam and the West has been a repeated theme or world politics, an imperative behind the course is that students go far beyond the simplicities of headlines and pundits in understanding Islam. Students should learn how to weigh both original source material and modern scholarship in determining their own understanding of the period.  To this end the development and execution of an individual research project is central to the course.

Course Material: Books, Primary Sources,
and Audio-Visual Material

Students are required to do a certain amount of assigned reading outside class.  The reading for this course comes in two forms -- print books, and articles and primary documents available on the World Wide Web or Blackboard. 

Required Books

Lapidus, Ira. M.  A History of Islamic Societies, 2nd Ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0521779332

Goffman, Daniel. The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0521459087 

Primary Sources and More on the World Wide Web

Almost all the primary source readings for each class are on the World Wide Web.  If you are reading the online version of this syllabus all you need do is to select [often by "clicking"] the texts in question, which are listed under each class.  You can then read on screen, or print out the document. 

The Internet is now a valuable research tool for students. Accordingly I shall also make this syllabus, course outline, and other class handouts available on the Web. Under each class there may also be reading material (marked as such), gathered from various Web sites. 

To access the class page from any web browser, just type in (at the prompt):


Discussion via Blackboard

The purpose of the wide reading in primary and secondary literature is that students be able to discuss the issues with a firm grounding. As well as discussion in class, students will use the "discussion forum" aspect of Blackboard. 


Frequently students feel under pressure and tongue-tied in class. Contributing comments via Blackboard allows you more time to think about what you want to say. Each student should contribute at least two Blackboard posts (comments/ questions/discussions) before each class session. These can be short or long, but over the semester they should be substantial. What I am looking for is real thinking about the issues. You are especially encouraged to comment on my class remarks and other students' comments. 

See the Guide to How Discussion is Graded and Basic Blackboard Instructions prepared for this course.

Internet Discussion Lists

In previous courses, some students have found it interesting to subscribe to Internet-based academic discussion lists on the subject. The most general list (and among the most active) is called Mediev-l. Instructions on how to join it can be found at http://scholar.chem.nyu.edu/mediev-l/mediev-l.html

A more focused list is H-Mideast-Medieval, which focuses exclusively on the Medieval Middle East. Instructions on how to join can be found at http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~midmed/.

With either list, please make sure to read for at least a week before to get the "feel of the list," and do not ask basic questions that could easily be answered from your textbook or by a little bit of library or Internet research. You can look really stupid to a lot of people if you suddenly start posting inappropriate questions and comments to one of these lists! 


There are a number of movies directly relevant to the course. Extra credit may be available for students who take the time to watch them and compare them to written historical sources. The movies are:

Mohammad, Messenger of God/The Message (1977)
Lebanon-UK, 180 mins, Color. Director: Moustapha Akkad. In English.
Cast includes: Anthony Quinn, Irene Pappas.
The most important film attempt to explore the career of Muhammad. In accordance with Islamic precepts, Muhammad himself is not represented in the film.

El Naser Salah el Dine [Alt: Saladin] (1963)
Egypt, 175 mins, Color. Director Youssef Chahine. In Arabic with English subtitles.
The story of Saladin as a savior of the Arabs. Curiously the film does not mention that Saladin was a Kurd, but does invite constant comparisons with the Egyptian leader of 1963 - Nasser.

Destiny [Alt: Al-Massir] (1997)
Egypt, 135 mins, Color. Director Youssef Chahine. In Arabic with English subtitles.
Chahine (perhaps the greatest Arab director) used the life of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) to criticize modern Islamic fundamentalists.

Islam: Empire and Faith Documentary (2000). In English.
An impressive, if somewhat uncritical, documentary.


The tradition of music in Islamic culture is extensive, and very diverse -- from Arab cultures all the way to Indonesia. In most genres, however, the traditions were passed down orally or from teacher to student: historical reconstruction is thus problematic. Qur'anic cantillation (chanting or reading) is an important genre, but most people will probably enjoy Qawwali (Sufi music from India/Pakistan) more than anything else. The Mouwachaha music from Andulusia is also interesting.

The Music of Islam (Sampler)
Music of Islam (Celestial Harmonies Series)
Celestial Harmonies
[A really useful disk for people wanting to get an overview of types of Islamic music for teaching. Serious investigators should buy the whole set. The Music of Islam (BOX SET - 17 CDS)]

Class Requirements and Grading [Undergraduate]

  • Paper: "Paper on the Qur'an" - 20% of total grade Jan 20
  • Research Paper - 30% of total grade
    • Paper - topic due Feb 3
    • Paper - annotated bibliography Feb 24
    • Paper - outline and thesis due Mar 10
    • Complete paper due (with rewrite option) Apr 7
    • Complete paper due (without rewrite option) Apr 14
  • Midterm Exam - 10% of total grade tba
  • Final Exam - 20% of total grade tba
  • Participation in class and Blackboard discussions, short answer tests, and exercises - 20% of total grade. [See How Blackboard and Class Discussion is Graded]

Class Requirements and Grading [Graduate]

  • Paper on The Quran (7 pages) - 10% of total grade Jan 20
  • Substantial Research Paper - 50% of total grade
    • Paper - topic due Feb 3
    • Paper - annotated bibliography Feb 24
    • Paper - outline and thesis due Mar 10
    • Complete paper due (with rewrite option) Apr 7
    • Complete paper due (without rewrite option) Apr 14
  • 25 Minute Class Presentation with annotated bibliography - 20% of total grade tba
  • Participation in class and Blackboard discussions, short answer tests, and exercises -20% of total grade

Class Policies

As adults in college you are entitled to know what the class policies are, and to adhere to them. They are designed to help with your education, and to enable all class members to do their best.

Attendance: Attendance will be recorded. You are required to attend both lectures and discussion sections. Significant patterns of absence will lead to lower final grades. Since this is a once a week class, three absences for any reason lead to an F grade for the course.

Classroom courtesy: Out of respect for your fellow students, come to class on time and do not move around during lectures or discussion. Turn off beepers and mobile phones (see me in emergency situations). Do not tape or record lectures.

Class preparation: You must read assignments before class sections. Papers must be handed in on time, unless an extension is given. They must conform to the Stylesheet guidelines available online. All projects must be submitted in order to earn a final grade.

Ownership of class work: All class work must be your own. In cases of cheating or plagiarism, the penalty will be flunking the course. For written work, keep your preparation materials, and be prepared to explain the meaning of everything you write.

Make up exams: Make up exams will only been given in the case of certifiable family or health emergencies.

Students are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor
to discuss papers and/or issues raised in class.

Course Content -- Brief

The course is based on thematic sections of varying length through which we shall analyze the development of Islamic cultures and states. Because this class meets for an extended once per week session, one or more of these sections will be covered in each class meeting. PowerPoint presentations used in class will be available for download from the course Blackboard site (not the World Wide Web).

I.                    Introduction: Geographies, Peoples, Nations, and Religions
II.                   The World of Islam's Birth
III.                 Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman
IV.                The Early Caliphs and Conquests
V.                 The Arab Kingdom: Islam Confronts Byzantium
VI.                The Islamic Empire: The Abbasid Golden Age: Islam and Persia
VII.              Islam: Theology and Law
VIII.             The Shia Tradition
IX.                 The Fragmentation of the Islamic Empire: The Maghreb and Umayyad Spain
X.                  The Fragmentation of the Islamic Empire: Fatimid Egypt
XI.                 The Turkish Irruption
XII.               Islam and the Crusades
XIII.              Islam and the Mongols
XIV.            Mamluk Egypt
XV.              The Rise of the Ottomans
XVI.            The Ottoman State
XVII.           The Safavids
XVIII.         The Spread of Eastern Islam: India and Further East
XIX.             African Islam
XX.               Islam Confronts Modernity


Class Title

Textbook Reading


1/11 Introduction: World of Islam's Birth Lapidus 3-9, 10-17



Lapidus 18-30



Early Caliphs and Conquests

Lapidus 31-44



The Arab Kingdom

Lapidus 45-51



Islamic Empire: The Abbasids

Lapidus 51-66, 67-80



Islamic Theology: The Shia

Lapidus 81-102, 133-146, 147-155, 156-193




Lapidus 103-117, 197-225, 283-287, 299-236



Turks: Crusades

Lapidus 117-132, 287-298



Mongols: Mamluks

Lapidus 226-234



Rise of Ottomans

Lapidus 248-258
Goffman chaps 1, 2



Spring Break


The Ottoman State

Lapidus 258-275
Grad: Goffman chaps 3, 4, 5, 6



Safavids: Eastern Islam

Lapidus 226-247, 337-355, 356-381, 382-399.



African Islam

Lapidus 400-428, 442-449



Islam Confronts Modernity

Lapidus 275-282, 453-468, 489-511
Grad: Goffman chaps 7, 8





Course Content -- Extended (Not Finalized)

1. Introduction: Geographies, Peoples, Nations, and Religions
The World of Islam's Birth


Lapidus. Xviii-xxiii, 3-9, 10-17.

Irfan Shahid. "Byzantium and the Arabs of the 5th century."

Patricia. Crone, "Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam"

Primary Sources:

Ancient Accounts of Arabia

Pre-Islamic Arabia: The Hanged Poems, before 622 CE

Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

Marshal. G.S. Hodgson, "Introduction to the Study of Islamic Civilization." Pp. 3-73 in The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Volume I: The Classical Age of Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. [Lib: DS36.85 .H63] 

Marshal. G.S. Hodgson, "Role of Islam in World History" in E. Burke III, ed. Rethinking World History. pp. 97-125   

R. Frye. "History of Ancient Iran."

Alternate Surveys and Basic Guides: 

John L. Esposito, ed. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 
Recent multi-author survey by OUP.

Philip K. Hitti. History of the Arabs.10th Edition. New York: Macmillan, 1970. Orig. 1937
Often derided and somewhat old-fashioned, but quite straightforward and well organized into numerous short chapters.. [Compare Ostrogorsky and Vasiliev for Byzantine History]

Hourani, Albert. A History of the Arab Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991. 
Well-written and relatively up-to-date. Its emphasis on Arab as opposed to Muslim history prevented its use in this course.

Sydney Nettleton Fisher and William Ochsenwald. The Middle East: A History, Volume 1: to 1914. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997. 
Over-priced as a textbook, but clear.

Marshal. G.S. Hodgson The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Volume I: The Classical Age of Islam. Volume I: The Classical Age of Islam. Volume II: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. [Lib: DS36.85 .H63]   
Made a serious effort to introduce a new vocabulary into Islamic studies (for example creating the word "Islamdom" so that a distinction could be made similar to Christianity/Christendom). That did not work, but this is a highly regarded survey.

Bernard Lewis. The Arabs in History. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. [Lib: DS36.7 .L49 1993]   
A short account by Lewis, a prolific and highly-skilled scholar and writer.


Islam and Islamic Studies (University of Georgia)
Dr. Alan Godlas' excellent website. This is by far the best place to start for academic resources on the web.

Middle East Medievalists Bibliographic and Teaching Resources
A very useful list of further resources.

Teaching Islamic Civilization with Information Technology
A guide especially directed to teachers of Islamic civilization.

Internet Islamic History Sourcebook

My own contribution emphasizes primary texts.

Richard Hooker: World Civilizations: Islam

An online textbook for Islamic Civilization.  

Al-Khazina is an interactive database for the study of Islamic Culture, particularly in the early centuries

Islamic Timeline

The Arabic Alphabet
An interactive method to pronounce the Arabic alphabet.

Arabic Fonts
Illustrates modern versions of various traditional Arabic scripts.

Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906)
A very useful (if somewhat dated) resource. Jews played a major role in the history of Islamic civilizations.

Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)
Also dated, and sometimes unduly polemical (the 1967 version, available only in print is much better), but many of its technical, historical, and archaeological articles (especially those by Fr. H. Thurston S.J.) are superb.

Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)
The 1911 edition of the Britannica was a superb work of scholarship (although marred by racism in parts.) The entire text is accessible via this site. Unfortunately, it has been mounted with little care, is not searchable, and can be a bit confusing. Plus the leeches who mounted it have filled it with pop-up ads. Since the text is public domain, we may hope for a better effort from some other, more public-minded, institution. Note that for Islamic subjects a very old transliteration system is used, so Muhammad is discussed under "Mahomet."


  • For images used in class PowerPoint presentations, see under the "Lectures" Tab in Blackboard. They will be posted after each class.
  • Questions:

    1. What aspects of the world into which Islam emerged made it possible for an entirely new world culture to come into existence?

    2. Who were the Arabs, and what was their history before the advent of Islam? [See http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/arabia1.html ]

    3. What is impact of pre-Islamic Arabic literature on the reader/hearer? [Since few of you know Arabic, you will have to try to answer this from the English translations...See http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/640hangedpoems.html ]

    2. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman


    Lapidus. 18-30.

    M. Watt, Muhammad Prophet and Statesman

    Maxime Rodinson: Muhammad, New York: Pantheon Books, 1980, pp. 38. ff, Chapter 3

    Michael Hart. The 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. New York: Citadel Press. No 1: Muhammad.

    Toby Lester. "What is the Koran." The Atlantic, January 1999 [At The Atlantic]

    Primary Sources:

    Ibn Ishaq, selections from the "Life of Muhammad"

    The Qur'an. Suras 1 and 47

    Muhammad's Last Sermon

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Karen Armstrong. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
    This is only placed here because the book is so widely assigned. Armstrong is so determined to overthrow what she says is a generally negative view of Islam an Muhammad in the West, that she really glosses over issues that need an airing.

    Michael Cook. Muhammad. New York: Oxford University Press, repr. 1984.

    Michael Cook. The Qur'an: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    Maxime Rodinson, Muhammad, New York: Pantheon Books, 1980.
    Sympathetic account by a French Marist intellectual.

    W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad, Prophet and Statesman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961.
    Essentially a condensation of the same writer's
    Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953. and Muhammad at Medina. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956. [Lib BP75 .W3]

    Michael Sells. Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations. Book and CD edition. Ashland OR: White Cloud Press, 1999.
    This was the book that caused such
    a fuss when it was assigned to all incoming University of North Caroline students last year. In fact, Sells is trying to get across in English the verbal power of the Qur'an that is proclaimed by so many Arabic speakers.

    John Wansbrough. Qur'anic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation. (London Oriental Series, No 31). London: Oxford University Press, 1992.
    One of the first books to argue that critical methods needed to be applied to the textual history of the Qur'an. Crone and Cook were his students. 

    Ibn Warraq, ed. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000.
    Ibn Warraq is well-known as an antagonist of Islam. This book, however, brings together a series of articles, etc., by other writers on the difficult issue of the amazingly late and sparse sources for early Islamic history. [Texts by Ernst Renan, Henri Lammens, C.H. Becker, Arthur Jeffrey, Joseph Schacht, F.E. Peters, etc.]



  • Web:

    PBS: Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

    The Qur'an Issue

    The textual integrity of the Qur'an, and its lack of variants, is a major claim of Islam. Until quite recently there were few efforts, even among western scholars, to interrogate this claim. In recent years, however, even among the general educated population, this has become an issue. [See Toby Lester. "What is the Koran." The Atlantic, January 1999 [At The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99jan/koran.htm with responses at http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99apr/9904lett.htm.]

    The Christian polemical website (and it must be understood as such)  http://www.answeringislam.org contains a page devoted to "refuting" (in fact attacking) Muslim claims. http://answering-islam.org/Quran/index.html. Of particular interest is the work John Gilchrist, Jam' aL-Qur'an: The Codification of the Qur'an Text http://answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Jam/index.html ]. I repeat that this site is polemical. The website Islamic Awareness directly answers the above pages http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/ . [It does not help, in my opinion, that it threatens its opponents with the fires of Hell!]

    Although his site is much more academic than http://www.answeringislam.org, Alan Godlas' page on the Qur'an [http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/primsourcisl.html] is notable for providing (with minor exceptions, i.e. the Lester Article) links only to Orthodox Islamic discussions of the Qur'an and its text. [This is quite remarkable: no serious scholar of Christian origins would create a web page on Biblical studies that only linked to Biblical literalist resources on Bible origins.] These defenses should be assessed by anyone who wants to investigate the issue further.

    The fundamental problem for western scholars is made clear in the Response of Seyyed Hossein Nasr of
    George Washington University to Toby Lester's Atlantic article. He writes (my emphases): 

    The main issue in "What Is the Koran?," by Toby Lester (January Atlantic), is not how one looks at the Koran as a so-called historical text and analyzes it according to the principles of textual or biblical criticism but, rather, how one conceives the very notion of revelation. What corresponds to Christ as the word of God in Christianity is not the Prophet Muhammad but the Koran in Islam.

    The acceptance of the Koran as the word of God suggests that the so-called historical and textual study of the Koran is tantamount to questioning the historical existence of Jesus Christ, as some people in the West have claimed. The rules of biblical criticism do not apply to the Koran as God's revelation, because what corresponds to the Bible is the hadith collection, which comprises the words and deeds of the Prophet of Islam as the Bible comprises the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. Both the hadith books and the Bible were compiled after the revelation, whereas the Koran has existed in its present form from the very beginning of Islamic revelation. To claim that the so-called history of the Koran undermines or casts doubt on its being a divine revelation is not only to misunderstand the nature of the Koran but also to go against the historical evidence.

    Nasr's comments do seem make some sense for Muslim scholars - one could not really continue to call oneself a Christian if one denied the very existence of Jesus of Nazareth or the significance of his teaching. But non-Muslim scholars do not (or they would be Muslim) accept the claim that the Qur'an (or any other text) is different from any other ancient or modern text, whether it claims to be revealed (The Bible, Zoroastrian texts, The Book of Mormon, The Lotus Sutra ) or not (The Iliad, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Jane Eyre). In particular western scholars claim the right to at least interrogate the claim that "the Koran has existed in its present form from the very beginning of Islamic revelation." There seems, therefore, to be an unavoidable conflict of approach on the issue. 

    The Orientalism Issue

    The Palestinian-American scholar and polemicist Edward Said's book Orientalism (1978) is among the most important scholarly books published in the past 40 years. In it, Said charged almost all previous western scholars of Islam (as well as India, China, etc.) with a new crime "orientalism." This was the crime of using knowledge and scholarship to advance the political project of western imperialism. There was some (limited but real) truth to this charge, although Said has never been in a secure personal position to charge others with using scholarship to advance a political agenda. It should be noted that Said (actually raised in Cairo and educated in Western schools)  himself has a Christian background, rejects radical Islamicist politics, and is a firm supporter of liberal democracy. 

    Said's arguments about orientalism, however, are now routinely trotted out by anyone who wishes to reject the findings of Western (and in fact many Arab/Indian/Turkish) scholars. This has been especially the case for the religiously orthodox or the extreme nationalists. For an example see Ab Imn cAbd al-Rahmn Robert Squires http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/orientalism.html. For an anti-Semitic twist see an article by Shahid Alam in Counterpunch 11/26/1002 http://www.counterpunch.org/alam1126.html

    An example of how this works in practice can be seen in what is meant to be a response to John Gilchrist's work.  [http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Gilchrist/GilJeffery.html ] Rather remarkably, the attack is directed at another scholar entirely - Arthur Jeffery [See http://answering-islam.org/Books/Jeffery/thq.htm

    Before we begin it is a nice idea to introduce Arthur Jeffery. He was an Australian-American Orientalist who conducted research on various aspects of the Qur'n. Among his works the most celebrated is his Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur'n: The Old Codices.

    Along with his important work on Biblical studies, he pursued his research on the Qur'n while serving in Cairo, Egypt, as the director of the American Research Centre, as a Professor of Semitic languages at Columbia University, and as an adjunct Professor at the Union Theological Seminary. Besides his studies on variant readings, he wrote on topics such as foreign vocabulary in the Qur'n (The Foreign Vocabulary Of The Qur'n: 1938, Arthur Jeffery, Oriental Institute, Baroda). He also translated selected surahs of the Qur'n and devised a new arrangement to establish 'development in Muhammad's thought' (The Koran - Selected Suras: 1958, Arthur Jeffery, Heritage Press, New York). Professor Jeffery belongs to that section of Orientalists who, in post-colonial times, shifted from textual and philological studies and, unlike their predecessors, had no chance to act as advisor to the colonial masters of Muslim Asia and Africa.

    In another twist, "Orientalists" are sometimes accused (by the more vulgar) of not understanding Arabic (for an example see here) and hence Islam. Said would never make this mistake, and his critique of "orientalism" needs to be distinguished from its use by others.

    Bernard Lewis, one of the "orientalists" attacked most aggressively by Said, provided what is perhaps still the best response in a review of Said's book "The Question of Orientalism" in the New York Review of Books (later republished in Bernard Lewis. Islam and the West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)[See http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=6547 ]. [A rather aggressive summary is provided by the right-wing columnist Jonah Goldberg at http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg020402.shtml ]

    Other scholars note that Said himself may not have expected this sort of use of his ideas by the religiously Orthodox - see Martin Kramer at http://www.ivorytowers.org/pages/832320/ . Kramer's own ideas are almost an antithesis of Said. He accuses American teachers of the middle east of systematically distorting their teaching in favor of Islam. See http://www.ivorytowers.org/pages/832317/index.htm. This worry that some students if Islam might be too "pro-Arab" received important publicity in an article "Tales from the Bazaar" by Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic in 1992. http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/saudiara/kaplan.htm.]


    1. Do you find the arguments that Muhammad was the "greatest man in history" to be persuasive? [See http://www.amaana.org/ismailim.html

    2. The issue of Muhammad's teaching on women is often raised. What are the main issues?

    3. Is it fair to distinguish between doctrinal and moral aspects of Muhammad's message?

    2. What issues are involved in studying the Qur'an according to standard methods of textual criticism. 
    3. What assumptions underline Crone and Cook's project in Hagarism
    4. What is "orientalism" and does it fundamentally distort western scholarship on Islam? What alternate ways of understanding "orientalist" behavior might be proposed? For example, what is the equivalent to "orientalism" in the study of Christian origins?

    3. The Early Caliphs and Conquests


    Lapidus. 31-44

    Fred Donner. The Early Islamic Conquests

     Philip K. Hitti. "Umar Ibn al-Khattab." Pp. 21-42 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

     Primary Sources:

    The Battle of Yarmuk

    The Conquest of Egypt

    Two Pacts of Umar

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):  

    Richard W. Bulliet. Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period: An Essay in Quantitative History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.

    Fred Donner. The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

    Walter Emil Kaegi. Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

    Bat Ye'or. The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam. Translated from the French by David Maisel (author's text), Paul Fenton (document section), and David Littman. Rev. and enl. English ed. Rutherford NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London : Associated University Presses, 1985.
    A book that arouses passions in some quarters, but one that must be taken into account.


    The Rightly-Guided Caliphs



  • Questions:

    1. Why did Abu Bakr emerge as the first successor of Muhammad?

    2. Assess Umar Ibn al-Khattab as a statesman.

    3. What was the practical basis of Muslim military success? Assess both arms and rewards.

    4. Assess the theory that Byzantine treatment of Monophysite Christians permitted easy Muslim victories.

    5. Why did the Roman Empire survive the Muslim attack while Sassanid Empire collapsed?

    6. What methods did Muslims use to establish political control of the conquered regions? Think of both palliative and defensive actions.

    4 The Arab Kingdom: Islam Confronts Byzantium


    Lapidus. 45-51.

    Philip K. Hitti. "Mu'awiyah." Pp. 43-58 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Oleg Grabar. The Formation of Islamic Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973; new ed. 1987. pp. 43- 71: Chap. 3 "The Symbolic Appropriation of the Land" chapter 3

    Primary Sources: 

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):  

    Patricia Crone. Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity. New York : Cambridge University Press, 1980

    Oleg Grabar. The Formation of Islamic Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973; new ed. 1987. 
    A vital book, with an especially important argument about aniconism in Islamic art. 

    G.R. Hawting. The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750.  2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge, 2000. [Available online via netLibrary to UNF students]


    Pictures of an Umayyad Palace, Near Jericho

    Pictures of the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount/Haram as Sherif in Jerusalem

    Umayyad Coins



  • Questions:

    1. Why did Damascus become the capital of the new Empire?

    2. Explain in detail the conflict between Ali and Uthman's family? 

    3. Identify the stages of the Muslim attack on the Roman Empire (Byzantium). How did Byzantium respond?

    4. Did the Umayyad failure to challenge Byzantine imagery lead to Islam aniconism?

    5. What was the role of Jews and Christians in the early Islamic Empire?

    6. How did Muslim rulers and legal scholars treat their non-Muslim (dhimmi) subjects? 

    7. Compare the Muslim treatment of religious minorities with  the treatment of minorities in other civilizations.

    5 The Islamic Empire: Islam and Persia
    The Abbasid Golden Age


    Lapidus. 51-66, 67-80.

    Philip K. Hitti. "al-Ma'mun." Pp. 76-94 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Wiet, G. "Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate."

    Primary Sources:

    Abul Hasan Ali Al-Masu'di (Masoudi) (ca. 895?-957 CE). The Book of Golden Meadows, c. 940 CE

    Ibn-Miskawaih. The Experiences of the Nations, c. 980 CE

    Yakut. "Baghdad under the Abbasids"

    Al-Tankh. Ruminations and Reminiscences, c. 980 CE

    An Arab Ambassador in Constantinople, late 10th century

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Ahmad Dallal. "Science, Medicine, and Technology: The Making of a Scientific Culture." In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John L. Esposito. 155-213. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.  

    Muhammad `Abd al-Hayy Muhammad Sha`ban. The `Abbasid Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.

    Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom. "Art and Architecture: Themes and Variations." In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John L. Esposito. 215-67. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 

    Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture. London: Thames & Hudson, 1998




  • Questions:

    1. Characterize the role and function of a caliph in the Abbasid period. Is he presented (in primary sources and/or secondary literature) as a political authority, a religious authority--or both? 

    2. Does the office of caliph more closely resemble that of a pope, king, pharoah, prime minister or president? 

    3. What is the relationship between the caliph and: (1) the law; (2) the jurists and scholars; (3) the Muslim community?

    6 Islam: Theology and Law
    The Shia Tradition


    Lapidus. 81-98, 99-102, 133-146, 147-155, 156-182, 183-193.

    Philip K. Hitti. "al-Ghazzali." Pp. 145-166 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Philip K. Hitti. "al-Shafi'i." Pp. 167-183 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Philip K. Hitti. "ibn-Rushd." Pp. 219-237 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Primary Sources:

    Islamic Political Philosophy: al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Majid Fakhry. "Philosophy and Theology." In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John L. Esposito. 269-303. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 

    Moojan Momen, An Introduction to Shia Islam. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.
    (esp. chaps. 2, 4, 5, 6, 13) [Lib: BP193.5 .M66 1985]  

    John Renard. Seven Doors to Islam: Spirituality and the Religious Life of Muslims. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.


    Islamic Philosophy Online

    Sources on Islamic Philosophy from the Encyclopedia of Islam

    A Shi'ite Encyclopedia
    A Shi'ite site that presents a great deal of information from a confessional perspective.

    Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project
    Many Shi'ite primary texts online.



  • Questions:

    1. What was at issue in the Mutazilite debates?

    2. Identify the four main schools of (Sunni) Islamic Legal interpretation, their distinctive aspects, and current geographical sway.

    3. What were the attractions of Shi'ism?

    4. How might a Shi'ite account of Islamic history differ from a Sunnite account?

    5. What are the differences between Ismaili and Twelver Shi'ism?

    6. What does an understanding of "muta" do to common modern Western characterizations of Shi'ite Islam?

    2/18 The Fragmentation of the Islamic Empire:
    The Maghreb, Umayyad Spain and Fatimid Egypt


    Lapidus. 103-111, 112-117, 197-225, 283-287, 299-236.

    Philip K. Hitti. "Abd al-Rahman I." Pp. 59-75 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Philip K. Hitti. "'Ubaydullah al-Mahdi." Pp. 95-115 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Primary Sources:

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):


    For fuller bibliography see: http://www.unf.edu/classes/crusades/crusadesbibliography.htm#THE%20SPANISH%20RECONQUISTA

    Yitzhak Baer. A History of the Jews in Christian Spain: From the Age of Reconquest to the Fourteenth Century, translated by Louis Schoffman. New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1993

    Roger Collins. Early Medieval Spain: Unity in Diversity, 400-1000. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1983.

    Roger Collins. The Arab Conquest of Spain, 710-797. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989.

    Olivia Remie Constable, ed. Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.

    Thomas F. Glick. Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.
    Online at http://libro.uca.edu/ics/emspain.htm

    Hugh Kennedy. Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History of al-Andalus. London: Longman, 1996. [Lib: DP102 .K46 1996]

    Vivian B. Mann and Thomas F. Glick, eds. Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain. New York: George Braziller, 1992.

    W. Montgomery Watt. A History of Islamic Spain. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965.

    Kenneth B. Wolf.  Christian Martyrs in Muslim Spain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
    Will be online at http://libro.uca.edu/


    Yacov Lev, State and Society in Fatimid Egypt. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991

    Farhad Daftary, ed. Mediaeval Isma`ili History and Thought. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 

    Bernard Lewis. The Origins of Isma`ilism: A Study of the Historical Background of the Fatimid Caliphate. Cambridge" W. Heffer, 1940. repr. New York: AMS Press, c1975.

    Andr Raymond. Cairo. Translated by Willard Wood. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. [Chaps 1 and 2.] 

    Paula Sanders. Ritual, Politics, and the City in Fatimid Cairo. Albany NY: State University of New York Press, c1994
    [Available online for UNF students via netLibary]

    Paul E. Walker.  Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002.

    Islam and (Christian) Europe

    Ibrahim A. Abu-Lughod. Arab Rediscovery of Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.

    Malcolm Barber. "How the West Saw Medieval Islam." History Today 47:5 (May 1997): 44-50. [Online via Infotrac Onefile]

    Blanks, David R. and Michael Frassetto. Western Views of Islam in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Perception of Other. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

    Norman Daniel. Islam and the West: The Making of an Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1962.

    Norman Daniel. The Arabs and Mediaeval Europe. London : Longman, 1975.

    Benjamin Z. Kedar.  Crusade and Mission: European Approaches toward the Muslims. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

    Bernard Lewis. The Muslim Discovery of Europe, New York: W.W. Norton, 1982.

    Bernard Lewis. Islam and the West. New York : Oxford University Press, 1993.

    M.C. Lyons. The Land of War: Europe in the Arab Hero Cycles. In The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World. Edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh. 41-51. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2001. [Online at http://www.doaks.org/LACR.html ]

    John Tolan, ed.. Medieval Christian Perceptions of Islam: A Collection of Essays. New York: Garland, 1996.

    W. Montgomery Watt. The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1972.


    Library of Iberian Resources Online (LIBRO)
    A wonderful collection of full text modern scholarly works, along with some translations, on medieval Iberian history.



  • Questions:

    1. What aspects of Al-Andulus have made it so attractive to later scholars? Do the very high conversion rates of Christians to Islam support or detract from the generally positive assessment?

    2. Create a timeline of the major stages in the history of Al-Andulus.

    3. Why the Umayyad Caliphate collapse?

    4. What was the role of the Jewish community in al-Andulus? Where Jews always well tolerated?

    5. Why did the reconquista succeed? Create a timeline of its major stages.

    6. What was the role of Egypt in the medieval Mediterranean economy?

    7. How did Ismailism impact on Fatimid government?

    8. When did Cairo become the most important of all Arab cities?

    7 The Turkish Irruption
    Islam and the Crusades


    Lapidus. 117-132, 287-298.

    J.J. Saunders: A History of Medieval Islam, London: Routledge, 1965. Chap. 9. "IX The Turkish Irruption"

    Philip K. Hitti. "Salah-al-Din." Pp. 116-42 in Makers of Arab History. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1971, c. 1968. [BB]

    Primary Sources:

     Ibn Batuta (1307-1377 CE): Travels (on the Turks)

    Urban IIs Speech at Clermont

    The Jihad Sermon of al-Sulami

    Richard the Lionheart makes Peace with Saladin

    The Latins in the East

    Usamah b. Munqidh, Autobiography: Excerpts on the Franks

    Hadia Dajani-Shakeel, "Some Medieval Accounts of Salah al-Din's Recovery of Jerusalem (Al-Quds)" in Hisham Nashabe (ed) Studia Palaestina: Studies in honour of Constantine K. Zurayk, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut 1988.

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Francesco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades. Translated by E. J. Costello. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

    Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2000. [Lib: DS38.6 .H55 2000]  

    Kenneth M. Setton, ed. A History of the Crusades. 6 vols. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969-.
    http://libtext.library.wisc.edu/HistCrusades/ [Complete text online.]

     See extended Crusades Bibliography at

    Peter Golden: "The World of the Steppes" from his An Introduction to the History of the Turkic peoples: Ethnogenesis and State-formation in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia and the Middle East. Wiesbaden 1992. [BB][Web]




  • Questions:

    1. Where did the Turks come from? 

    2. What was the political role of the Turks in central Asia before Islam?

    3. Why did Muslim rulers begin to use Turkish troops?

    4. What were the stages by which Turkish leaders took hold of political power.

    5. Identify the stages of the Muslim response to the crusades.

    6. Where was Saladin's power based?

    7. Did the Crusades affect Islamic thought and action in other areas?

    8. Who "won" the crusades?

    8 Islam and the Mongols: Mamluk Egypt


    Lapidus. 226-234,

    Bernard Lewis, "Race and Slavery in the Middle East"

    Primary Sources:

    Ibn al-Athir: On The Tatars, 1220-1221CE

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Reuven Amitai-Preiss. "Mamluks and Mongols: An Overview." Chapter 10 of his Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260-1281. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. [BB] [Web]

    Claude Cahen . "The Mongols and the Near East." In A History of the Crusades (Editor in Chief, Kenneth Meyer Setton) Vol. II The Later Crusades, 1189-1311. Edited by R. L. Wolff and Harry W. Hazard. 715-34. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969-89. [Online at http://libtext.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/HistCrusades/HistCrusades-idx?type=header&id=HistCrusades.CrusTwo ]

    P. M. (Peter Malcolm) Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517. London; New York: Longman, 1986. [Lib: DS38.3 .H65 1986]   




  • Questions:

    1. What drove the Mongols.

    2. Describe Mongol military methods?

    3. Why did the Mongols in China end up Sinicized and the Mongols in Iran end up Islamicized?

    4. What was the impact of the Mongol destruction of Baghdad on late power structures in the Middle East?

    5. Outline the structure of Mamluk society in Egypt.

    6. What was the basis of the strength of Mamluk Egypt?

    7. How useful is "slavery" as a concept to understand the power structures of Mamluk society? What groups other than Mamluks held actual power.

    --Spring Break 3/21-25--


    9 The Rise of the Ottomans


    Lapidus. 248-258.

    Primary Sources:

    Muhammad El-Halaby: The Liberation/Fall of Constantinople 1453

    The Counsels of Nabi Efendi to his Son Aboul Khair; Eulogy of Istanbul http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/OTTOMAN/EULOGY.HTM

    James M. Ludlow: The Tribute of Children, 1493

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):  

    Goffman, Chaps 1 and 2.

    Jean-Louis Bacque-Grammont. "The Eastern Policy of Suleyman the Magnificent 1520-1533." in  Suleyman the Second and His Time. Edited by Halil Inalcik and Cemal Kafadar. 219-28. Istanbul: Isis Press, Istanbul, 1993. [BB] [Web] 




  • Questions:

    1. Discuss the relationship between geography and ideology in the rise of the Ottoman beylik.

    2. What did the Byzantines do to defend their territory from Ottoman expansion?3. 

    10 The Ottoman State


    Lapidus. 258-75.

    Primary Sources:

    James C. Davis, ed. Pursuit of Power: Venetian Ambassadors' Reports on Turkey, France and Spain in the Age of Philip II, 1560-1600. New York: Harper, 1970. 1-29, 125-72. [BB]

    Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (1522 - 1592): The Turkish Letters,   excerpts, 1555-1562

    The Status of Jews and Christians in Muslim Lands, 1772 CE

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Goffman, Chaps 3, 4, 5, and 6




  • Questions:


    11 The Safavids: The Spread of Eastern Islam: India and Further East


    Lapidus. 226-247, 337-355, 356-381, 382-399.

    Primary Sources:

    Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354

    Sidi Ali Reis (16th Century CE): Mirat ul Memalik (The Mirror of Countries), 1557 CE
    A Turkish traveler's account of the world of India and the Middle East.

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed: Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968.  

    Bruce B. Lawrence. "The Eastward Journey of Muslim Kingship: Islam in South and Southeast Asia." In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John L. Esposito. 395-431. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.




  • Questions:

    1. What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Safavid state?

    2. How did the Muslim conquerors of India treat the conquered population?

    3. Why did Java become Muslim?

    4. Why did China not become Muslim? 

    12 The Spread of Islam: East and West Africa


    Lapidus. 400-428, 442, 443-449.  

    Abdulaziz Y. Lodhi and David Westerlund. African Islam in Tanzania (MSS March 1997)

    Primary Sources:

    Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354

    Leo Africanus: Description of Timbuktu

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):  

    Mervyn Hiskett. The Development of Islam in West Africa. London: Longman, 1984.

    Humphrey J. Fisher. Slavery in the History of Muslim Black Africa. New York : New York University Press, c2001

    Nehemia Levtzion. "Islam in Africa to 1800: Merchants, Chiefs, and Saints." In The Oxford History of Islam. Edited by John L. Esposito. 475-507. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 

    Nehemia Levtzion & Randall L. Pouwels. Eds. The History of Islam in Africa. Athens OH: Ohio University Press, 2000. [Lib: BP64.A1 H62 2000]




  • Questions:


    13 Islam Confronts Modernity


    Lapidus. 275-282, 453-468, 489-511.

    Albert Hourani. "The Changing Balance of Power in the Eighteenth Century." In A History of the Arab Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991, 249-278. [BB] [Web]

    Primary Sources:

    Sir William Eton: A Survey of the Turkish Empire, 1799

    Graduate Reading (+Extended Bibliography):

    Goffman, Chaps 7 and 8  




  • Questions:





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