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HIST231: Empire and States in the Middle East and Southwest Asia

Unit 2: Islam and the Emergence of the Muslim State   The emergence of Islam in Arabia during the 7th century CE had a significant social and political impact on the development of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim faith, began preaching to his fellow tribesmen in Mecca and later Medina in the early 600s.  By the time of his death in 632, he had united the warring tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a single religious and political community.  Later caliphs (religious successors to Muhammad) conquered surrounding kingdoms and rapidly spread Islam throughout Southwest Asia and the Mediterranean Basin.  In this unit, you will examine the origins of Islam and look at its broader political and social influence on the region.  You will also explore how Islam evolved from a regional religious faith into a powerful socio-political force that had a lasting impact on the peoples and cultures of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 16.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 2.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.2: 4.5 hours ☐    Reading: 3 hours

☐    Lecture: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 4 hours ☐    Readings: 2 hours for each reading

☐    Subunit 2.4: 4 hours ☐    Subunit 2.4.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 2.4.2: 1 hous

☐    Subunit 2 Assignment: 3 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Explain the rise of Islam and Muhammad’s mission as the Prophet of Islam. - Assess the political and cultural impact of the Muslim faith on the peoples of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin. - Analyze the Sunni-Shi’a split in Islam. - Describe and assess the social and cultural impact of Islam on the peoples of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin.

2.1 Muhammad   - Reading: Harvard University: The Pluralism Project’s version of “Muhammad: The Messenger of God” Link: Harvard University: The Pluralism Project’s version of “Muhammad: The Messenger of God” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this concise essay, which talks about the life of Muhammad.  You will learn how Muhammad became the prophet of Islam.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Ishaq’s Selections from The Life of Muhammad Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Ishaq’s Selections from The Life of Muhammad (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire text.  In this short selection from a biography written approximately 100 years after Muhammad’s death, author Ibn Ishaq describes Muhammad’s birth and early life.  He highlights the miracles associated with Muhammad’s birth and includes a quote attributed to Muhammad in which he speaks about being purified by divine forces before he began his prophetic mission.   This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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2.2 Early Islam and Islamic Conquests   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Fred Donner’s “The Early Islamic Conquests” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Fred Donner’s “The Early Islamic Conquests” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read the entire text, which discusses the
tribal nature of Arabia and how Muhammad was able to unite them for
the future Islamic conquests.  You should spend approximately 3
hours reading and taking comprehensive notes on this text.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the
webpage displayed above.
  • Lecture: YouTube: The University of Chicago: Fred Donner’s “How Islam Began” Link: YouTube: The University of Chicago: Fred Donner’s “How Islam Began” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Please view the entire video lecture (approximately 43 minutes).  While reviewing Professor Donner’s lecture, pay attention to his critical assessments of early Islamic sources.  Taking notes and viewing this lecture should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
     
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2.3 Succession Struggle after Muhammad’s Death   - Reading: University of Notre Dame: “Medieval Period of Expansion” Link: University of Notre Dame: “Medieval Period of Expansion” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text, in which you will learn about the Islamic expansion after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Please note that portions of this reading also apply to subunit 3.1.
 
Reading this text and studying the maps will take approximately 1 hour.
 
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  • Reading: Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” Link: Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entire text, which explains the life and major accomplishments of the first four caliphs.  These are the only elected caliphs in Islamic history.  Taking notes and reading this webpage should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
     
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2.3.1 The First Caliph: Abu Bakr   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the first caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

2.3.2 The Second Caliph: ‘Umar   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the second caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

2.3.3 The Third Caliph: Uthman   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the third caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

2.3.4 The Fourth Caliph: Ali   Note: This topic is covered by the readings assigned below subunit 2.3.  In particular, pay attention to the text about the fourth caliph in the Islamic Web’s “The Rightly Guided Caliphs” reading.

2.4 Sunni- Shi’a Split   2.4.1 Origins of the Sunni-Shi’a Split   - Reading: BBC’s “Sunni and Shi’a” Link: BBC’s “Sunni and Shi’a” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This is the most significant split in Islam.  Read the entire text, and pay attention to the reasons for the split.  Write a summary paragraph that describes this split into Sunni and Shi’a.  This reading and paragraph should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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  • Reading: NPR: Mike Shuster’s “The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split” Link: NPR: Mike Shuster’s “The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split” (HTML, and MP4 or Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please read this entire article that supplements the other materials in this subunit to explain the reasons for the Shi’a-Sunni split.  Listen to the 8-minute podcast by clicking on "Listen" or the icon below the article’s title.  This reading and podcast should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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2.4.2 Comparisons of the Sunni and Shi’a   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation's "Islam and the Emergence of the Muslim States" Link: The Saylor Foundation's “Islam and the Emergence of the Muslim States” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above to download the assessment.  Write out one paragraph answers for each question.  After completing this assessment, please check your responses against the Saylor Foundation’s “Guide to Responding to Islam and the Emergence of the Muslim States.” (PDF)  Your answers should contain, but not be limited to, the information provided in the answer guide.  This assessment should take approximately 3 hours to complete.

  • Web Media: Religion Facts’ “Comparison of Sunni and Shia Islam” Link: Religion Facts’ “Comparison of Sunni and Shia Islam” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please study the comparison chart in the middle of the page.  You should spend approximately 1 hour examining this chart in detail.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.