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Regular version of the site

History of the Arab medieval world

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered at:
Department of Humanities (Faculty of Computer Science, Economics, and Social Sciences)
Course type:
Elective course
4 year, 1 module

Course Syllabus


The discipline is realized with help of online-course “The Cosmopolitan Medieval Arabic World”. About the online-course: “In this course we will focus on the fascinating history of the Arabic Medieval World. We will take you on a journey through the Middle Ages starting off in eighth-century Baghdad. Along the old pilgrim trails we will go to places like Mecca, Jerusalem and Najaf. We will show you the impressive markets of places like Cairo and Samarkand. However we will not hide the dark sides of society either, by introducing you to the flourishing widespread slave trade. We will visit the Abbasid court, the Harem of the caliph, and the palace of the Mamluk Sultan. We will show you some beautiful medieval manuscripts, that live on as the silent witnesses of the impressive achievements of scientists and medical doctors of this forgotten era. All along we will present you with historiographical debates and dilemma’s. Reflecting on the way we look at and interpret history. And while taking you on this journey, we will travel back and forth in time explaining to you how events of the past affected and shaped the world as we know it today” (https://www.coursera.org/learn/medieval-arabia).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Medieval Islamic city: what was its specificum? What were the key principles of its existence?
  • The significance and interconnection of travel and religion in the medieval Arabic world; how could the pilgrimage shape the society?
  • The effects of trade, including slave trade, on Islamic society; why the paradigm of Orientalism doesn’t allow to understand this phenomenon adequately?
  • Specifics of social categories of dependence in the medieval Middle East: how was it possible that some of the most powerful people in society, both men and women, were or had been slaves?
  • What were the specific ways of existence and transition of scientific and technical practices in the medieval Arabic world?
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • A student knows the main characteristics of the medieval Islamic city
  • A student has an experience of analyzing of medieval Islamic society; understands how religious travelling could shape society
  • A student owns the basic ideas on the effects of trade on medieval Islamic society
  • A student understands especial characteristics of medieval Islamic society
  • A student understands the ways of production and transition of knowledge in medieval Arabic world
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Section 1. The Medieval Islamic City
    - Introduction to the Islamic city; - Islamic city – historic myth, Islamic essence and contemporary relevance; - Hammam in the space of medieval Islamic city; - Hospitals in the medieval Islamic city
  • Section 2. Travel and Religion in Arabic Medieval World
    - Hajj Darb Zuybada; - Minorities and different Islams; - Shrines and pilgrimage; - Jews in the Middle East and Europe; - Origins of the Schism
  • Section 3. Trade
    - The Effects of Trade on Islamic Society; - Significance of porcelain trade; - Legal inventions connected with trade; - The slave trade in medieval Islamic world; - Trade in medieval Arabic world and modern Orientalism
  • Section 4. Peculiar properties of slavery in medieval Arabic world
    - Harems: myths and reality; - Political Intercession at Court - The pen and the sword; - Mamluk army
  • Section 5. Science:
    - Arabic Science; - Inventions of Islam scientists and engineers; - The travelling of medical knowledge; - The travel of a book (translation movement); - Philosophy in the Islamic World.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking The independent work: report on a given topic
  • non-blocking Work on seminars
  • non-blocking Oral exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (1 module)
    0.4 * Oral exam + 0.3 * The independent work: report on a given topic + 0.3 * Work on seminars


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Bauden, F. (2019). Mamluk Diplomatics: The Present State of Research.
  • Ghersetti, A. (2018). Representations of women in the Mamlūk period (prefazione alla sezione tematica di Mamluk Studies Review 21, 2018). the middle eastern center university of chicago. https://doi.org/10.6082/3v7a-f634
  • Hany Moubarez. (2020). Arabic and Islamic Philosophy and Sciences: Method and Truth. Studia Humana, 9(1), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.2478/sh-2020-0001
  • S. Evinç TORLAK, Tanzer ÇELIKTÜRK, Onur KULAÇ, & Recep ARSLAN. (2016). A Medieval Islamic City: Case of Cordoba. https://doi.org/10.15637/jlecon.124
  • The Hajj : pilgrimage in Islam / edited by Eric Tagliacozzo (Cornell University), Shawkat M. Toorawa (Cornell University). (2016).
  • Weitz, L. (2019). Jacob Lassner. Medieval Jerusalem: Forging an Islamic City in Spaces Sacred to Christians and Jews. American Historical Review, 124(3), 1181. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhz391

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Albadi, N. M., O’Toole, J. M., & Harkins, J. (2017). Reading Difficulty and Language Features in an Arabic Physics Text. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 21(8), 46–69.
  • Alhirtani, N. A. K. (2018). The Influence of Arabic Language Learning on Understanding of Islamic Legal Sciences——A Study in the Sultan Idris Education University. International Education Studies, 11(2), 55–66.
  • Jankowiak, M. (2017). What Does the Slave Trade in the Saqaliba Tell Us about Early Islamic Slavery? https://doi.org/10.1017/s0020743816001240
  • Patricia Blessing. (2016). Rebuilding Anatolia After the Mongol Conquest : Islamic Architecture in the Lands of Rum, 1240–1330. Routledge.
  • Sophia Rose Arjana. (2017). Pilgrimage in Islam : Traditional and Modern Practices. Oneworld Academic.