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

Unit 4: The Social and Cultural Impact of Islam   Islam had a powerful social and cultural impact on the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  It served as an overarching social and cultural institution uniting the diverse peoples of the regions conquered by Muslim rulers beginning in the mid-600s CE.  Islam promoted strict religious and ethical values and offered specific guidelines for behavioral and social norms.  It also promoted the unity of religious and political institutions.  With the assent of the Abbasid Dynasty in the mid-700s, the Middle East entered the Islamic Golden Age.  Over the next 400 years, Muslim scholars and scientists made significant advances in agricultural production, applied mathematics, chemistry, and other fields.  As Islamic cities grew more crowded, water and sewer systems were added and other means were used to promote cleanliness and public health.  In this unit, you will examine the social and cultural impact of Islam on the regions conquered by Muslim rulers during the last three centuries of the first millennium CE and take a look at the scientific and humanistic advances of the Islamic Golden Age.  

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 16.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 9hours ☐    Introduction: 2hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1.3: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 4.5 hours ☐    Readings: 3.5 hours

☐    Lecture: 1 hour

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Explain Islamic theology and law. - Examine the role of the Quran as the original source of Islamic law, Shari’a. - Analyze the similarities and differences in the Sunni and Shi’a traditions. - Discuss Muslim scholars’ contribution to science and technology.

4.1 Islamic Theology and Law   - Web Media: BBC: Melvyn Bragg's “Islamic Law and Its Origins” Link: BBC: Melvyn Bragg's “Islamic Law and Its Origins” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: The audio discusses the origins and early development of Islamic law, Sharia.  Please listen to this piece in its entirety.  Click on “Listen Now” to launch the audio lecture, which will lay the groundwork for the complex belief system.  Listening to this program and taking notes should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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4.1.1 Quran as the Original Source   - Reading: Quran.org: Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick’s “The Koran” 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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4.1.2 Religious Law   - Reading: The Islam Project’s “What Is Shariah? Major Sources and Principles of Islamic Law Link: The Islam Project’s “What Is Shariah? Major Sources and Principles of Islamic Law” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to gain an understanding for how Islamic law functions.  Please think about and consider writing down the answers to the questions under the “Questions for Study and Discussion.”  You should spend approximately 3 hours reading this text, taking notes, and answering the study questions.
 
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4.1.3 Law Schools   4.1.3.1 The Sunni Tradition   - Reading: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: Sunni Tradition: “Schools of Jurisprudence” Link: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: Sunni Tradition: “Schools of Jurisprudence” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Below “Schools of Jurisprudence” on the chart, please click on the frames titled Malikiyya, Shafi’iyya, Hanafiyya, and Hanballiya.  These are four major schools of Sunni Law.  When you click on the stated boxes, the links will take you to pages where you can get brief information about Islamic schools of law, each of which has a different interpretation of Islamic law.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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4.1.3.2 The Shi’a Tradition   - Reading: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: “Shi’a Islam” Link: Philtar’s Overview of World Religions: “Shi’a Islam” (HTML)
 
Instructions: The chart has links to several divisions in the Shi’a tradition.  These are different from those in the Sunni ones in many respects, one of which is the way it interprets the Sharia.  Please click on the frames titled Zaydiyyah, Isma’iliyyah, and Imamiyyah.  These links will take you to webpages that provide brief text on each of these three major divisions in the Shi’a.  Note that when clicking on “Isma’iliyyah,” the webpage will prompt you to click on the “Shi’ism” link.  Try to understand the similarities and differences among these divisions and with the Sunnis. This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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4.2 Science and Technology   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook: Seyyed Hosein Nasr’s “Science and Civilization in Islam” Link: Fordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook: Seyyed Hosein Nasr’s “Science and Civilization in Islam” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article.  The reading presents certain aspects of the Islamic sciences as seen from the Islamic point of view.  You should spend approximately 2.5 hours reading and taking comprehensive notes on this text.
 
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  • Web Media: Classical Islam’s “Muslims’ Contribution to Sciences” Link: Classical Islam’s “Muslims’ Contribution to Sciences” (HTML and Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please read the text and the chart.  Follow the directions to place your curser over the interactive chart to learn about each of the individual Muslim scholars that have contributed to the field of science.  You should spend approximately 1 hour examining this chart.
     
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  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Sina’s “On Medicine, ca. 1020 CE” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Ibn Sina’s “On Medicine, ca. 1020 CE (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the brief text in its entirety.  In this excerpt from an 11th century text on medicine, Muslim physician Ibn Sina presents a rational argument about the fundamental causes of illness in the human body.  He argues that illnesses result from natural conditions and claims that physicians can determine the causes of illnesses by studying symptoms.  Finally, he discounts supernatural factors as a cause of illness in the human body.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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