The Islamic World
History 2251, Spring 2008
Classroom: ED 206
Tuesday & Thursday: 9:30 – 10:45
Prof. Andrew Goss
Office Hours: T 12:30-2:30 pm (ED 145)
This course is an introduction to the history of the Islamic World. The lectures will narrate and analyze
the social history of Islamic communities, concentrating on how Muslims have lived, worked, and
worshipped, from the time of Muhammad until the very recent past. It will examine the rise and
definition of Islamic civilization and the making of Islam into a global religion. The will largely
concentrate on the history of the Middle East after Muhammad, but with some lessons covering the
Islamic world in Africa and Asia as well. While the course will touch on all aspects of Islamic history,
the principal focus will be on the relationship between Islamic politics, culture, and society, and there will
be less on the theology and religious history of Islam.
Identify key places, movements, and figures from Islamic history
Understand the development of Islamic societies in Arabia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa
Interpret the role of Islam in World history
Evaluate the meaning of the Islamic revival
Understand the roots of the twentieth century conflicts in the Middle East
Midterm (25% of grade)
The midterm will be comprised of a map test, multiple-choice questions, identifications and short answer
questions, covering the first part of the class. These exams will test your familiarity with the lectures and
readings. Taking careful notes on both is therefore strongly recommended. I will be looking for evidence
of general knowledge, an organized and analytical approach to that knowledge, and an ability to combine
the raw materials of the course into pertinent and meaningful insights. If you will not be able to attend an
exam on the scheduled date, inform me beforehand. If you miss an exam, contact me immediately.
Make-up exams will be given on a Saturday morning at the end of the semester.
Ataturk paper (25% of grade)
As a class we will read, discuss, and analyze the biography of the first Turkish president, Ataturk. Please
finish reading this book by March 27th. All students are required to write a 800-word essay about this
book, following guidelines that will be posted on Blackboard. It is due on April 3rd, and must be turned in
via Blackboard (more details to follow).
Final (30% of grade)
The final exam will be comprised of a map quiz, multiple-choice questions, identifications, and short-
answer questions from the second part of the course, and one or two short essay questions covering the
entire semester. See above comments on the midterm.
Attendance (10% of grade)
Attendance in class is required. You must sign in on a sign-on sheet passed around during class. Three
absences are allowed—I do not need or want to hear reasons or excuses, unless they qualify for an
excused absence. Each absence after the first three will translate into the loss of one percent of your
grade (up to 10%). Excused absences will only be granted for: UNO official service (including athletics),
jury duty, or military service. These excused absences must be verifiable by me through an official
document, either a letter from a UNO official explaining your absence, a jury summons letter, or a letter
from your commanding officer.
Participation (10% of grade)
Participation will be graded at the end of the semester. There will be three possible scores: excellent,
passing, and fail. Excellent translates to full credit (100 points), passing translates to C credit (75 points),
and failing translates to zero points. Students who are familiar with the material, attend class regularly,
and at least occasionally make a stab at discussing the readings, will receive a passing grade. Students
who come to class, are careful readers, and who enthusiastically engage with the material, will receive an
excellent grade. A failing participation grade reflects little or no participation in the class material.
Students with frequent absences from class, regular tardiness, or other disruptive class behavior (like
leaving class right after signing in) will also receive a failing participation grade. Committing academic
dishonesty (see below) will also mean a failing participation grade.
Midterm 25% (250 points) Paper 25% (250 points)
Attendance 10% (100 points) Participation 10% (100 points)
Final 30% (300 points)
The required texts for the course are:
Goldschmidt and Davidson, A Concise History of the Middle East (8th edition)
Both texts are available at the UNO bookstore. One additional short reading is available on the
Blackboard website for the class.
Email and Blackboard
All communications, including the posting of grades, will be done through Blackboard and email.
As per university policy, you are expected to read your UNO email regularly, which I may use to
distribute various announcements. Your paper must be turned in electronically via Blackboard.
Blackboard is available at http://uno.blackboard.com/
Civility in the classroom and respect for the opinions of others is very important in an academic
environment. It is likely you may not agree with everything that is said or discussed in the
classroom. Courteous behavior and responses are expected.
Students with Disabilities
Students who qualify for services will receive the academic modifications for which they are
legally entitled. It is the responsibility of the student to register with the Office of Disability
Services (UC 260) each semester and follow their procedures for obtaining assistance.
Academic integrity is fundamental to the process of learning and evaluation academic
performance. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty includes, but is
not limited to, the following: cheating, plagiarism, tampering with academic records and
examinations, falsifying identity, and being an accessory to acts of academic dishonesty. Refer to
the UNO Judicial Code for further information:
Date Topic Textbook Reading
T Jan 15 First day of class Ch. 1
Th Jan 17 Pre-Islamic Arabia and the Middle East Ch. 2
T Jan 22 Muhammad Ch. 3
Th Jan 24 Arab conquests Ch. 5
T Jan 29 Abbasid Caliphate Ch. 6
Th Jan 31 Sunni theology Ch. 4
T Feb 5 Mardi Gras!
Th Feb 7 Shia Islam & Sufi Mysticism Ch. 7 (pages 87-94)
T Feb 12 Post-Abbasid Middle East Ch. 7 (pages 94-105)
Th Feb 14 Islamic Civilization, I Ch. 8
T Feb 19 Islamic Civilization, II
W Feb 21 Ottoman Empire Ch. 9 (pages 129-152)
T Feb 26 Safavid Persia Ch. 9 (pages 152-156)
Th Feb 28 Islam and Indian ocean trade
T Mar 4 Islam in Africa
Th Mar 6 Midterm
T Mar 11 Ottoman empire in the 19th century Ch. 10
Th Mar 13 Modernist reforms Ch. 11
M/Th Mar 18-20 Spring Break
T Mar 25 Islam, Colonialism and Nationalism Ch. 12, Ch. 13 & Ch. 14
Th Mar 27 New states: Turkey Macfie, Ataturk
T Apr 1 The Creation of the State of Israel Ch. 16 & Ch. 17
Th Apr 3 Nasser’s Egypt Ch. 15
T Apr 8 The 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars Ch. 18
Th Apr 10 Revivalist movements after the 1970s
T Apr 15 Iranian revolution Ch. 19
Th Apr 17 Afghanistan and the Taliban
T Apr 22 The Gulf Wars Ch. 20
Th Apr 24 Headscarves in French schools?
T Apr 29 Islam in the United States
Th May 1 Debating Islam in America Ch. 21 (+ extra materials on Bb)
Wednesday May 7th Final exam (ED 206)
10am – noon