75728 - History and Institutions of the Muslim World (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student will have acquired a thorough knowledge of the main topics of the pre-modern history of Muslim societies. He will be able to discuss them effectively both orally and in writing, using the appropriate terminology and with suitable bibliographic references.

Course contents

The course deals with the pre-modern history of muslim societies (7th to 18th centuries), in particular with the history of its central, mostly Arabic speaking  lands during the so called formative period (7th-11th centuries).  A general outline of the political histories of the regions in question will be provided and will then be combined with more specific discussions of the most characteristic political and religious institutions for each period. Historiographical debates and methodological issues are an important part of the course.


Compulsory reading list.

  • Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near and Middle East, 600-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

And the following articles:

  • Greg Fisher, “Kingdoms or Dynasties? Arabs, History, and Identity before Islam”, in: Journal of late Antiquity 4/2 (2011), 245–267.
  • Arietta Papacostantinou, “Administering the Early Islamic Empire: Insights from the Papyri” in : John Haldon (a cura di) Money, Power and Politics in Early Islamic Syria. A review of current debates (Ashagate, 2010), 57-74.
  • Robert Hoyland, “New documentary texts and the early Islamic state”, in BSOAS 69/ 3 (2006), 395–416.
  • Andrew Marsham, “God’s Caliph Revisited”, in Andrew Marsham – Alain George, Power, Patronage, and Memory in Early Islam (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 1-37.

Any material projected during the class or read and discussed with the instructir during the course is part of the compulsory readings.

Students not attending classes will study:
  • Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near and Middle East, 600-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Karen Barkey: Empire of Difference. The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Further bibliographical suggestions.

In Italian

Ø Donner, Fred, Muhammad e le origini dell'Islam (Torino: Einaudi, 2009)

Ø Haarman, Ulrich (a cura di), Storia del mondo arabo (Torino: Einaudi, Einaudi, 2010).

Ø Hourani, Albert, Storia dei Popoli Arabi, Milano: Mondadori, 1992 (e varie ristampe)

Ø Lapidus, M. Ira, Storia delle società islamiche, Torino: Einaudi, 3 vol., varie ristampe.

Ø Ducellier, A. - Micheau F., L'Islam e il Medioevo, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004.

Ø Halm, Heinz, Gli Arabi, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2006.

Ø Scarcia Amoretti, Biancamaria, Il Mondo musulmano. Quindici secoli di storia, Roma: Carocci editore, nuova edizione 2013

In other languages

Ø Armando Salvatore (a cura di), The Wiley Blackwell History of Islam, Wiley-Blackwell , 2018.

Ø Bianquis, Thierry - Guichard, Pierre - Tillier, Mathieu (a cura di), Les débuts du monde musulman (VIIe-Xe siècle). De Muhammad aux dynasties autonomes, Nouvelle Clio, PUF, 2012.

Ø Agha, S.S., The Revolution which Toppled the Umayyads: Neither Arab nor Abbasid (Leiden, 2003).

Ø Barkey Karen, The Empire of difference. The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge Univ. Press,2008.

Ø Borrut, A.- Cobb. P (a cura di), Umayyad Legacies. Medieval Memories from Syria to Spain (Leiden: 2010).

Ø Borrut, A., Entre mémoire et pouvoirL'espace syrien sous les derniers Omeyyades et les premiers Abbassides (v. 72-193/692-809) (Leiden : 2011).

Ø Cobb, P., White Banners: Contention in Abbasid Syria, 750-880 (Albany, 2001).

Ø Cobb, P., The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades (Oxford, 2014).

Ø Cooperson, M., al-Ma'mun (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005).

Ø Crone, P., Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (Princeton, 1987).

Ø Crone, P., Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh, 2004).

Ø Crone, Patricia,The nativist prophets of early islamic Iran : rural revolt and local zoroastrianism, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Ø Dale, S., The Muslim Empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Ø Garcin, J. Cl. et alii, États, sociétés et cultures du monde musulman médiéval. xe-xve siècles, 3 volumes, Nouvelle Clio, PUF, 1995 et 2000.

Ø Donohue, J.J., The Buwayhid Dynasty in Iraq, 334H./945 to 403 H./1012: Shaping Institutions for the Future (Leiden, 2003).

Ø Encyclopaedia Iranica, London-Boston: Routledge, 1982-. Oltre che in copia cartacea in dipartimento è disponibile gratuitamente anche in: http://www.iranicaonline.org/

Ø Encyclopaedia of Islam/Encyclopédie de l'Islam, Brill, seconda e terza edizione.

Ø F. Daftari, The Isma‘ilis (Cambridge, 1990) (tradotto in italiano da Marsili)

Ø G. Schoeler, The Oral and the Written in Early Islam, tr. by U. Vagelpohl (Oxford and New York, 1996).

Ø Halm, H., Shiism, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh, 2004).

Ø Hathaway, J., The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, (London: 2008).

Ø Hawting, G.R., The First Dynasty of Islam (London, 1986 and 2000).

Ø Hoyland, R., Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (London, 2001).

Ø Hoyland, R., Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam (Princeton, 1997).

Ø Humphreys, R.S., Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (Princeton, 1991).

Ø Imber, C., The Ottoman Empire: Structure of Power 1300-1650 (Basingstoke, 2002).

Ø Inalcik, H., The Ottoman Empire. The Classical Age, 1300-1600 (London1994).

Ø Index Islamicus (indispensabile per ricerche bibliografiche e disponibile nelle risorse elettroniche di Unibo).

Ø Kennedy, H., The Court of the Caliphs (London, 2004).

Ø M.G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, 3 volumi.

Ø Lange Ch. - Merit (a cura di), The Seljuqs: Politics, Society and Culture, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011.

Ø Lev, Y., State and Society in Fatimid Egypt (Leiden, 1990).

Ø Loiseau, J. Les Mamelouks xiiie-xvie siècle. Une expérience du pouvoir dans l’Islam médiéval, Paris: Seuil, 2014.

Ø Marsham, A., Rituals of Islamic Monarchy: Accession and Succession in the First Muslim Empire (Edinburgh, 2009).

Ø Melchert, C. , Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Oxford, 2006).

Ø Retsö, J. The Arabs in Antiquity: their History from the Assyrians to the Umayyads (London, 2002).

Ø Robinson, C.F., Empire and Elites after the Muslim Conquest: The Transformation of Northern Mesopotamia (Cambridge, 2000).

Ø Robinson, C.F., ‘Abd al-Malik (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005).

Ø Petry, C. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Egypt.

Ø The Cambridge History of Iran , vol. 4-6.

Ø The Cambridge History of Turkey,Cambridge (Cambridge University, Press, 2006-2013).

Ø The New Cambridge History of Islam, Michael Cook (a cura di), Michael Cook (Cambridge - New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Ø Zaman, M.Q., Religion and Politics under the Early ‘Abbasids (Leiden: Brill,1997).

Useful websites



Database fo bibliographical research

Index Islamicus (available at Unibo electronic resources).

Brill Online Refernece Works (not available at Unibo)

Mamluk Bibliography Online (for teh Mamluk period, 1250-1517): http://mamluk.lib.uchicago.edu/

Teaching methods

Lectures and students' oral presentations (optional).

More details will be given in the first day of class.

Assessment methods

The exam will be conducted orally and will assess the student's command of the material studied in the course.

The student will be assessed according to his/her ability to present and critically discuss the topics raised, making use of the exam bibliography and the course tools provided.

Top marks (28-30L) will be awarded to students displaying: an excellent command of the topic, a critical approach to the material, a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.

Average marks (25-27) will be awarded to students who are able to summarise the relevant topics, but are not familiar with historiographical and historical debates, nor display a full command of the appropriate terminology.

Low marks (18-24) will be awarded to students displaying a patchy knowledge of the relevant topics and do not command the appropriate terminology.

A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

This course is one of a set of two courses composing a "corso integrato". The exam for each course will have to be taken independently and the final grade will be the avarage between the two assessments.

Teaching tools

Additional reading materials as well as the themes of the students' presentations will be available through the e-learning platform (Moodle).

Office hours

See the website of Caterina Bori