Fall 2015 - HIST 252 D100

Islamic India (3)

Class Number: 5940

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Tue, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 18, 2015
    Fri, 12:00–3:00 p.m.



A survey of the cultural patterns, social and political forces, and historical contexts that have shaped the Islamic period of Indian history. Special attention will be directed toward the Mughal empire and its decline. Breadth-Humanities.


This course is a survey of the cultural patterns, social and political forces, and historical contexts that have shaped the Islamic period of Indian history. Our course will start with India at the cusp of the arrival of Islam (750 AD to 1200). And so we move to studying the growth and development of an Islamic culture in India including the contributions of key leaders such as Sufi mystics, travellers like Alberuni and his study of Indian science and civilization. As we move into the 13th century, we will look into the rapid growth of Islamic rule .In the14th Century, we will explore the violent conquests of the ruler Alauddin Khalji and his contributions to creating a revolutionary standard in agriculture and econometrics. We study the decline of the Sultanate by considering the “creative madness” of rulers such as Muhammad Tughluq’s and Firuz Tughluq's , two of history’s most interesting potentates. We also see how Islamic India was being viewed in the wider world by studying the writings of travellers such as Fa Hsien and Ibn Batuta. During this period we will explore the important changes in Indian economy and society, especially in caste, slavery, religion and technology. We will also see how political movements influenced widespread societal change as we study the rise of provincial dynasties all over India; regional “heroes” who come to challenge the Islamic Sultans of the north. We also see how the early intervention by the Portuguese explorers to the south and west of India infiltrated Islamic defences and coloured Indian culture during this period. The ‘island of bliss’ that is Goa emerges in this phase through Portuguese political and cultural influence. This rich multicultural foundation brings us to the establishment and consolidation of the grand empire of the Mughals, the greatest the world had ever seen. We will focus much of our attention on the magnificent achievements of the Mughal Empire, looking at issues such as administration, music, art, society, culture, statecraft, sexuality and international relations. This era of many players in Indian politics allows us to make very fruitful studies of the condition of women, peasants, bilingual agents and emergent Indian mercantile classes whose agency contributes to the fall of Islamic rule and establishment of European colonialism. We end our course with examining the causes and effects of the fall of the Mughals in the 17th century and the early days of British rule. By the end of this course, every student will have a clear sense of the conditions that led to the establishment of Islamic rule in India, the salient components of numerous Islamic dynasties, social and cultural changes which came about during the Islamic period, the contributions of the great Mughals to Indian and world history and finally the causes of the decline of Islamic rule and the establishment of British colonial rule in India.


  • Participation 20%
  • Academic journal 10%
  • Primary source analysis 15%
  • Mid-term exam 25%
  • Final exam 30%



Catherine B Asher and Cynthia Talbot eds. India before Europe [Paperback]

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