Islam, The Middle East, and The West

Purpose of Course  showclose

This course will introduce you to the history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam to the twenty-first century.  The course will emphasize the encounters and exchanges between the Islamic world and the West.  It will be structured chronologically—each unit will focus on the emergence of a particular Middle Eastern society or empire during a specific time period.  Each unit will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes, such as the emergence of Islam in the seventh century, conflicts between Islamic and Christian peoples during the Crusades, European domination of Muslim territories in the nineteenth century, independence movements and the rise of nationalism in the 1900s, and the formation of Islamic fundamentalist groups and anti-Western sentiment in the latter twentieth century.  By the end of the course, you will understand how Islam became a sophisticated and far-reaching civilization and how conflicts with the West shaped the development of the Middle East from the medieval period to the present day.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Identify and describe the nature of pre-Islamic society, culture, and religion. They will also be able to describe the subsequent rise of the prophet Muhammad and his monotheistic religion, Islam.
  • Identify and describe the elements of Islamic law, religious texts and practices, and belief systems.
  • Identify and describe the rise of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties in the Middle East. Students will also be able to compare and contrast the two empires.
  • Identify and describe the emergence of the Umayyad dynasty in Spain. Students will also be able to analyze the conflicts between Muslims and Christians on the Iberian Peninsula.
  • Identify and describe the Crusades. They will be able to describe both Muslim and Christian perceptions of the holy wars.
  • Identify and describe the impact of the Mongol invasions on the Middle East.
  • Compare and contrast the Ottoman and Safavid empires.
  • Analyze the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of European imperialism/domination of the Middle East in the 1800s.
  • Identify and describe how and why European powers garnered increased spheres of influence after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I.
  • Analyze and describe the rise of resistance and independence movements in the Middle East.
  • Identify and describe the rise of Islamic nationalism and the emergence of violent anti-Western sentiment.
  • Analyze (and synthesize) the relationship between the Middle East and the West between the 600s and the present day.
  • Analyze and interpret primary source documents that elucidate the exchanges and conflicts between the Islamic world and the West over time.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:
√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Be competent in the English language.
√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Preliminary Information

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