The Origins and Rise of Islam (600-1250 AD)

Islam is deeply set in world history and the roots of many debates and issues in the modern Middle East can be traced back over a long period. This module provides an introduction to many such questions by offering an overview of the political, cultural, religious and social history of the main Islamic lands of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Syria and Iraq/Iran covering roughly the first five centuries from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the Crusades.

You’ll develop an understanding of the diversity and fluidity of both Muslim identity and the nature and priorities of the early and developing Islamic community, and you’ll also engage with key debate regarding the source material on the period, both literary and artistic.

In particular, you’ll explore Islam's place in Late Antiquity; the rise and fall of the caliphal dynasties of the Umayyads and Abbasids; the evolution of political and religious authority; the cultural and political position of non-Arab converts to Islam; the impact of non-Muslim influence on politico-religious debate in Islam, as well as sectarianism and the rise and fall of key dynasties in North Africa, Egypt, Syria and Iraq.