Spring 2016 - HIST 249 D100

Classical Islamic Civilization (3)

Class Number: 5421

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 5 – Apr 11, 2016: Mon, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 18, 2016
    Mon, 3:30–6:30 p.m.



This course offers a broad survey of the development of classical Islamic civilization. It begins with an examination of the origins of Islam in seventh century Arabia and concludes with the break-up of the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad in the 13th century. Emphasis will be place on gaining an understanding of the doctrines of Islam, the significance of the rise and fall of the early Arab-Islamic empires, and the role of Islam in world history. Breadth-Humanities.


This course is an introduction to the major intellectual traditions informing the civilization evolved by Muslims in the formative and classical periods (7th to 10th centuries CE). The survey examines the pre-Islamic context of the emergence of Islam in Arabia; the career of the prophet Muhammad in the Meccan and Medinan modes; the realization of scripture in spoken and written forms; the expansion of the Arabs and the assimilation of Byzantine and Persianate traditions; the impetus for and the consequences of conversion to Islam; the development of a consensus on the nature of authoritative political and religious action; the rise of slave-based authority and its theoretical justification; the emergence of jurisprudence as a way of realizing Islam; the evolution of a mystical interpretation of Islam from personal piety to later mystical orders; competitive notions concerning sexuality and gender in Islam; the formation of diverse world views in philosophy, literature, music, art, and architecture. Special attention will be directed at the formation of coherent and enduring pan-Islamic cosmopolitan traditions.

** Credit for this course may be applied towards the certificate of Liberal Arts.


  • Essay proposal 5%
  • Essay 25%
  • Mid-term examination 20%
  • Final examination 40%
  • Tutorial participation 10%



M.G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, vol. 1

Tales from 1001 Nights, tr. Malcolm Lyons

D.N. MacLean, Classical Islamic Civilization: Courseware


Michael Cook, The Koran: A Very Short Introduction

Registrar Notes:

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