UNC Chapel Hill - Summer II 2005

(ASIA 036)
  Introduction to Islamic Civilization

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Upcoming lectures, exhibits, and performances relating to the Middle East and Muslim civilizations

Parallel public events and performances are in green
Deadlines and important dates are in red
* = Instructor out of town

I. Introduction to the Study of Islam

1.  June 23    The Study of Islamic Civilization Today
Reading: Ernst, Following Muhammad, Preface and Chapter 1, "Islam in the Eyes of the West," pp. xiii-xxv, 2-36. Notes
Study question topic: the nature of anti-Islamic prejudice
Film: "Islam: Empire of Faith" (part 1)

Website: Read the first two articles about the UNC Qur'an controversy. Why was this such a big deal? Why did this become a national issue?

2. June 27   Religion, Islamic Civilization, and History
Reading: Ernst, Following Muhammad, chapter 2, "Approaching Islam in Terms of Religion" pp. 38-69; Berkey, pp. 1-53. Notes.

Study question: changing meaning of "religion" and "religions" in the colonial era; characteristics of the religions of the ancient world, particularly in relation to empire

Notes: Islam and the World of Muhammad
al-Khazina ("the Treasury"): Princeton web site on Islamic studies
Historical maps

II. Sources of Islamic Tradition

3. June 28 The Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an
Reading: Ernst, Following Muhammad, pp. 71-105, 108-119; Berkey, pp. 57-69; Notes
The Sura of the Cave (Qur. 18), trans. W. N. Crest (you will need userid and password no. 1); See "Questions to Consider" in the prefatory remarks to this reading, for suggested study questions on "You" verses and "Say" verses

Web assignment. Examine one of the following extreme Christian fundamentalist sites on Islam:
    1. http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/islam.htm; note that other parts of the site (http://www.jesus-is-lord.com, now offline) are very anti-Catholic, including a truly horrific "Anti-Christ Slideshow."
    2. Jack Chick cartoon conversion tract archived at http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0042/0042_01.asp. Note that he regards Islam as not only false religion but also a Catholic plot.
Questions that can be addressed include: 
    • how should advocacy/attack religious websites be evaluated?How does one determine the point of view of a religious website?How does one distinguish between neutral information and advocacy/denigration?
    • What drives the extreme fundamentalist rejection of Islam?

4. June 29    Texts, gender, and authority in early Islamic society
Reading: Mernissi, The Veil, pp. vi-ix, 1-81
Gender and Scripture in Islam: Some Thorny Issues (online PowerPoint presentation) 
Muslim Women Lawyers Association, Karama
Study questions: the role of misogyny in different societies
; why would feminist Mernissi find it necessary to go into biographical criticism of hadith regarding the political role of women? for what purposes can sacred texts like the hadith be used? what are the issues that govern the estimation of hadith as authentic or fabricated?

5. June 30   Islamic Arts, especially calligraphy
Reading: Following Muhammad, pp. 182-197 (notes); Ernst, "The Spirit of Islamic Calligraphy"; Web Site on "The Art of Arabic Calligraphy"
"The Hilya, or the Adornment of the Prophet" from the web site of calligrapher Rasheed Butt
See also a translation of Jazuli's Dala'il al-Khayrat (one of the manuscripts on display) 
Also recommended: The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, "Islamic Art," I. Introduction, esp. sections 1 (Definition) and 8 (Subject-matter) [note: you need to be on campus to have permission to use this electronic resource]

Museum Tour. We will go to the Ackland Art Museum (click here for a map) to see the permanent Islamic art collection.

6. July 5    Rethinking women in early Islamic society 
Reading: Mernissi, The Veil, pp. 85-140

    III.  The Dome of the Rock and the imperial politics of the Caliphate

7. July 6    The Rock, part 1
Reading: Berkey, pp. 70-83; Makiya, The Rock, pp. 3-92 (notes1)(notes)(notes on the first 4 Caliphs)
Web sites: The Noble Sanctuary (Muslim site); BiblePlaces.com (Christian site); ArchNet.com (academic site at MIT); TempleMountFaithful.com (Zionist site for rebuilding Solomonic temple)

8. July 7   The Rock, part 2
Reading: Makiya, The Rock, pp. 93-186 (notes)

9. July 11    The Rock, part 3
Reading: Makiya, The Rock, pp. 186-275 (notes)
Bring first draft of midterm essay to class for exchange with peer editor

Exercise: Visiting the Dome of the Rock.
Log into the
Electronic Media Cooperative, click on Courses, go to Reli 25, and examine photos of the Dome of Rock.
Examine the Qur'anic inscriptions in the Dome of the Rock as summarized by Bruce Lawrence (here; you will need userid and password no. 1)
. Why were these verses chosen? What would be the impact of reading them as one circumambulates the shrine?

10. July 12   Rethinking women in early Islamic society (cont'd)
Reading: Mernissi, The Veil, pp. 141-195
Return edited essays

    IV. Religion and Culture in Early Islamic Civilization

11. July 13     Overview of the early Caliphate
Reading: Berkey, pp. 84-129 (notes)
Midterm essays due

12. July 14    Shi`ism.
Reading: Following Muhammad, pp. 168-174; Berkey, pp. 130-140; The Shi'a, By Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, sections on "The Imamate and Its Role in the Esoteric Dimension of Religion" and "A Brief History of the Lives of the Twelve Imams." Note: Allamah Tabatabai is an eminent Iranian Shi`i theologian who died in 1981.
Study question: spiritual mediators as connections to God  
Web sites on Shi`ism

13. July 18    Sufism.
Reading: Following Muhammad, pp. 164-168, 174-182; Berkey, pp. 152-58, 231-247; Islam: Basic Beliefs and Mystical Interpretation (online PowerPoint presentation)
Ernst, Teachings of Sufism, chapter 1,  "Lives of Women Saints" (userid and password no. 1 required) 
Kenan Rifai Sufi web site

14. July 19   Overview of Empire and Civilization up to the Mongol conquest (1258)
Reading: Berkey, 141-51, 159-203
Islamic Civilization to 1500

Sa`di's elegy on the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols. How do you reconcile this lament with the fact that his patron assisted the Mongols?

    V. Samarkand: Religion, History, and Culture in Seljuk Persia

15. July 20    Omar Khayyam and the Assassins in fact and fiction
Reading: Maalouf, Samarkand, Book 1 (pp. vii, 1-101)
on Samarkand
Seljuks, Umayyads, and Fatimids
Notes 1
Notes 2

16. July 21   The Past in the Present: in Search of Omar's Manuscript
Reading: Maalouf, Samarkand, Book 3 (pp. 153-223)
Notes 3

17. July 25   The Past in the Present: Omar, Baskerville, and Middle Eastern modernity
Reading: Maalouf, Samarkand, Book 4 (pp. 200-301)
Iran's American Martyr
American wife of a missionary in Tabriz writes on Baskerville's death
the 1906 Consitutional Revolution in Iran
Notes 4

a fake Omar manuscript, and the famous luxury printed edition lost on the Titanic

    VII. Concluding overview of Islamic Civilization 

18. July 26    Conclusions
Reading: Berkey, 204-269; Following Muhammad, pp. 200-213
Film: "Islam: Empire of Faith" (part 2)
Bring draft final exam essays to class for exchange with peer editors

Return edited essays to your partner on your own, on June 27

Final Exam Essay Due by Fri., June 29, 3 pm (my mailbox in Saunders 125)