History of Islam & the West

The course focuses on a broad sweep of the major historical personalities, events and processes of the Islamic (622-1707) and European (1707-present) Ages. The Islamic Age, or Islamic Millennium, is further divided into 3 major periods: (1) the High Caliphate Period (622-1066), in which most of the Muslim world is united under one caliph who commands the greatest empire in the world; (2) the Middle Period (1066-1500) of Islamic sultanates, emirates and khanates, in which myriad polities and dynasties come and go but which form the “Muslim Commonwealth” united by a common language, religion and culture; and (3) the Gunpowder Period (1500-1707), dominated by the emergence three great empires in the Muslim world, the Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid, which continue Muslim global pre-eminence, while Western Europe is undergoing its Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Discovery.

The final period, the European Age, (1707- present), witnesses the gradual rise of the European colonial empires which come to dominate most of the world by the end of the nineteenth century. Following the momentous and self-destructive power struggles between these colonial powers in the 20th century – the two World Wars – the mantle of Western civilization is taken on by the new world superpower, the United States of America, which proceeds to fashion a new global order under its direction.

The passage of ages, empires, dynasties and the later emergence of nation-states will be studied in relation to the world situation as a whole, and with particular regard to three inter-related aspects: political-military, intellectual and the economic.

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