10432 Islam: Introduction to the History of the Religion

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Medieval History or in Modern History or in History of the Middle East

Prerequisites: none

Authors: Nehemia Levtzion, Daphna Ephrat, Daniella Talmon-Heller

The course discusses the historical development of Islam – its institutions and concepts – from its inception to the present. It reviews the political and social history of Muslim countries, as a necessary framework and background for understanding the dynamics of the religion. The materials include secondary sources representing different research approaches as well as original documents and sources that reflect how Islam viewed itself.

The course is designed to provide the basis for studying the history of the Muslim Middle East (for example, Introduction to the Modern History of the Middle East, 10109).

Topics: The birth of a religion – the prophet and community of believers; Sects in Islam – the succession, the caliphates and the split in Islam; From Arabization to Islamization – forced conversion of the conquered peoples; Islamic law; Theological questions and their political impact; Islamic mysticism; Between Ulama and secular rulers in the late Middle Ages; Institutionalization of Islam – law, education and mysticism; The expansion of Islam into Asia and Africa; Decline, reform and the revivalist response in the 18th century; Modernism and secularism – Islam’s response to the western challenge; Fundamentalism and its political impact.