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HIST101: Ancient Civilizations of the World

Unit 9: The Rise of Islam   From its point of origin in Arabia, Islam developed into a global civilization that eventually encompassed large portions of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe.  Based upon the teachings of the prophet Mohammad, the Islamic religion was based upon several universal principles—a feature that attracted diverse ethnic groups to the faith.  Although initially shunned by the nomadic Berber tribes in Arabia, Islam was eventually accepted in the Middle East; it served as the core of several Islamic empires, including the powerful Umayyads and Abbasids.  However, despite the purported religious homogeneity of Islam, the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties were punctuated by religious discord and political conflicts.

In this unit, we will examine the main tenets of Islam and consider why so many diverse people adopted the faith.  We will also study the rise and fall of the Umayyad and Abbasid empires and examine the reasons behind the only major schism in Islam—the Sunni-Shi’a split.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 9 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 1 hour

☐    Unit 9 Assessment: 0.5 hours

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the rise of Prophet Muhammad, and identify the tenets of Islam. - Describe the elements of Islamic law and its practice. - Identify and compare the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties and empires. - Identify the causes, main events, and consequences of Islamic expansion in the Mediterranean.

9.1 The Arabian World and the Birth of Islam   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Birth of Islamic Civilization” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Birth of Islamic Civilization” (PDF).
 
Introduction: This reading covers subunits 9.1.1 and 9.1.2.  Please read the entirety of this article in order to get a sense of the historical context of the emergence of the Islamic faith.  

  • Reading: Sam Houston State University: Dana Carleton Munro’s “Islam and Islamic Civilization” Link: Sam Houston State University: Dana Carleton Munro’s “Islam and Islamic Civilization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for a historical and theological overview of Islamic civilization.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:” Suzan Yalman’s “The Birth of Islam” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History:” Suzan Yalman’s “The Birth of Islam” (HTML)
     
    Introduction: This reading covers subunits 9.1.1 and 9.1.2.  Please read the entirety of this article in order to get a sense of the historical context of the emergence of the Islamic faith.  Click on “View Slideshow” at the top of the webpage to explore images and descriptions of the art.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.1 Pre-Islamic Arabia   9.1.2 The Prophet Muhammad   9.1.3 Islamic Faith and Practice   - Reading: Brigham Young University: Fazlur Rahman’s “Elements of Belief in the Qur’an” Link: Brigham Young University: Fazlur Rahman’s “Elements of Belief in the Qur’an” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety to get an understanding of the principles of the Muslim faith.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Understanding Islam” Link:The Saylor Foundation’s  “Understanding Islam” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please “Understanding Islam” in order to get a sense of the main tenets of the Islamic faith.

9.1.4 Islamic Law   - Reading: Fordham University: Arthur Goldschmidt’s “A Concise History of the Middle East” Link: Fordham University: Arthur Goldschmidt’s “A Concise History of the Middle East” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a sense of the system of Islamic jurisprudence.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.5 Islam, Community, and Ethics   - Reading: Fordham University: Arthur Goldschmidt’s “A Concise History of the Middle East” Link: Fordham University: Arthur Goldschmidt’s “A Concise History of the Middle East” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the section entitled “Islamic Society” in order to get a sense of the Islamic system of ethics as well as the role of the individual and community in Islam.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2 The Arab Empire of the Umayyads   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Umayyads: The First Muslim Dynasty” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Umayyads: The First Muslim Dynasty” (PDF).
 
Instructions: This reading covers subunits 9.2.1-9.2.3.  Please read "The Umayyads," about the emergence and decline of the Umayyad dynasty. 

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Sunnis and Shiites” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Sunnis and Shiites” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: This reading covers subunits 9.2.1-9.2.3. Please read “Sunnis and Shiites” for an overview of the definitions of “Sunni” and “Shi’a” Islam.    

9.2.1 The Caliphate   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned beneath subunit 9.2.  Focus specifically on the first reading.

9.2.2 The Rise of the Umayyads   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned beneath subunit 9.2.  Focus specifically on the first reading.

9.2.3 The Sunni-Shi’a Split   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned beneath subunit 9.2.  Focus specifically on the second reading.

9.3 From Arab to Islamic Empire: The Early Abbasid Era   9.3.1 Rise of the Abbasids   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read "The Abbasid Dynasty," about the emergence and decline of the Abbasid dynasty. 

9.3.2 Abbasid Society and Culture   - Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art: “The Art of the Abbasid Period” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art: “The Art of the Abbasid Period” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the short article on this webpage.  Then click on the images at the top of the page to read about individual artifacts from the Abbasid era.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: Pearson Education’s World Civilizations: The Global Experience: “Chapter 11, Multiple Choice Quiz” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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