In our current society, the term Islam or its derivative (Islamic, Muslim) is increasingly problematic; raising many questions as to what is to be included under this designation. This course, which surveys the History of the Islamic world (ca. 600-today), aims precisely to unveil the intricacies of the emergence, development and spread of the Islamic civilization. Now and then, Islam always has been a global phenomenon, extending and penetrating widespread territories, including many diverse communities, cultures, languages, and confronting opposing parties. Despite its undergoing disparities and changes however, number of common features and trends helped shaping what is now known as the Islamic civilization. This courses concentrates on the religious, political, social, cultural, and economic trends that shaped the regions under Islamic rule, and engages with the nature and particularities of Muslim communities living inside (Middle East, Iran, Maghreb, India) and outside Islamic lands (especially in Western Europe). An important aspect of the course engages in the dialogue between Islamic societies with the non-Muslim world over time, and the exchanges (commercial, cultural and political) that took place between them.
The course is divided in two parts. The first part investigates the period of emergence, spread, development and consolidation of the Islamic civilization from late antiquity (ca. 600) until approximately 1700. It will focus on the different elements that were at the basis of an Islamic identity, such as religion, statecraft, institutions, language, urban and artistic development, law, religious communities and minorities. The history of this period covers a territory spreading from Spain to the border of China, and includes very diverse people, communities, languages and cultures. The second part investigates the period from ca. 1700 to the present, focusing on increasing Western economic influence in the Ottoman Empire, North Africa, and India and the local responses to such changes. It discusses how the Ottomans, Mughals, and North African state men coped with British and French colonial projects and discusses the emergence of anticolonial movements ranging from Islamism and secularism as two viable expressions of resistance. The course in this period covers also the interplay between religion and politics from Safavid Persia to post-revolutionary Iran. With increasing flow of Muslim migrants and refugees to Europe the class ends with a discussion of this East-West encounter in Europe and teaches students to position debates over multi-culturalism and tolerance in a historically informed and critical perspective.
Through this course, undergraduate students (BA1 and BA2) will acquire a broad knowledge of the history of Islamic world from the emergence of Islam up to today. Students will also be familiarized with the great array of social practices and cultural particularities that are included under the generic term “Islamic civilization.” In addition to the focus of content, methodological approach also constitutes a major aspect of this course. Furthermore, students will sharpen their skills of historical inquiry through progressive analysis of primary sources (in translation) as well as refinement of critical reading abilities through secondary materials (assigned essays for History students only). The essays and discussions will familiarized History students with the possibilities of research in the field of Islamic studies, as well as the current debates and challenges.