REL 231
The Origins of Islam: God, Empire and Apocalypse
Last Offered Spring 2014
Division II
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

Both Muslim and non-Muslim historians usually see the rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E. as a total break with the past. This course will challenge that assumption by placing the rise of Islam in the context of the history of late antiquity (c. 250-700 C.E.). The first portion of the course will examine the impact of Judeo-Christian monotheism in the ancient world, the rise of confessional empires, articulation of new ideas about holiness and its relation to sexuality and the transformations undergone by Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. We shall examine the conversation of these traditions with classical paganism and philosophy, the internal struggle within traditions to define rules of interpretation, the impact of ascetic, iconoclastic and apocalyptic ideas and, finally, polemics among the traditions. We will then examine the career of Muhammad (PBUH) in the context of Arabia, the spread of the Islamic empire into Christian and Iranian worlds, the impact of apocalyptic expectations, the fixation of religious decision making within the tradition, the process of conversion, the encounter with the Late Antique heritage and religious diversity within the commonwealth of Islam. The course will end with the end of the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258.
The Class: Limit: 30
Expected: 20
Class#: 3572
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one 5-page paper, self-scheduled final, and a final research project
Prerequisites: none; open to all
Distributions: Division II
Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under ARAB
Attributes: ARAB Arabic Studies Electives
HIST Group E Electives - Middle East
HIST Group G Electives - Global History
INST Middle Eastern Studies Electives
REL Islamic Tradition Courses

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