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REL 88 — Worlds of Islam

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Saturday and Sunday
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 4 days
Date(s): Jul 31—Aug 8
Time: 9:00—11:30 am (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 31
Unit: 1
Tuition: $340
Instructor(s): Marwan D. Hanania
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
Saturday and Sunday
9:00—11:30 am (PT)
Jul 31—Aug 8
4 days
Refund Date
Jul 31
1 Unit
Marwan D. Hanania
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Nearly one-quarter of the world’s population identifies as Muslim, and Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. Yet foundational ideas and early events in Islamic history are routinely misunderstood and misrepresented, especially in the West. Too often, the diversity of Muslim-majority states and societies is overlooked while a number of theological institutions, ideological currents, and political developments remain cloaked in misperceptions.

This course will emphasize the multiple worlds of Islam and the rich diversity of cultural practices and governing norms of a number of key Muslim societies and states. We will delve into the early, formative history of Islam and its complex theological underpinnings. We will study how the pre-Islamic environment of Arabia, such as tribal cultural norms of the 6th and 7th centuries, as well as older faiths—Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity, among others—influenced the emergence of Islam. Next, we will explore the Prophet Muhammad’s migration to Medina and return to Mecca, and the expansion of the faith under the first four caliphs. Then, we will consider the development of the Sunni/Shi'a split, the development of the Umayyad dynasty, and the apex of Islamic civilization under the Abbasids. We will examine the decline of the classical Islamic empires, the Mongol invasions, the Crusades, and the formation of new dynasties and empires led by the Safavids, Ottomans, and others. Students will have an opportunity to reflect on Islamic ideas and institutions today as well as the potential for reform.


Marwan D. Hanania has taught at Stanford, Coastal Carolina University, the American University of Sharjah, the University of Nevada, Reno, and San Diego Mesa College. He received a PhD in history from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Reza Aslan, No god but God (ISBN 0812971892)
(Required) William H. McNeill and Marilyn Robinson Waldman, The Islamic World (ISBN 0226561550)