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

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, students obtain specific and advanced skills in the history of the Islamic world and its institutions. They examine the sources from a historical-critical and socioanthropological point of view, and orient themselves in the specialized bibliography. They are able to collect, also thanks to the use of specific databases, relevant literature in order to document themselves and adequately deepen their skills both in the field of research and in the working environment. They can search and critically examine materials, bibliographic and documentary sources of different types, in order to organize the material and conduct historical-religious investigations. They explain and communicate the contents learned and formulate valid judgments in the historical field and are able to give form to the results of their own research in the field of Islam, documenting accurately the information on which they base their conclusions and giving an account of the methodologies of investigation used.

Course contents

The course focuses on the history of the pre-modern Muslim world. Specifically, the course discusses the emergence and development of Islam in the Near and Middle East (600-1000). It examines the gradual emergence of a new religion in the context of the late-antique Near Eastern world, the society of the conquests and the development of an early Islamic administration. Specific attention will be paid to methodological isses, the various approaches adopted in the study of early Islam and the crucial question of sources.


Reading list

Compulsory readings:

  • Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near and Middle East, 600-1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • 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.
  • Iwona Gajda, “Remarks on Monotheism in Ancient South Arabia”, in Michael Cook - Carol Bakhos, Islam and Its Past Jahiliyya, Late Antiquity, and the Qurʾan , OUP : 2017, pp. 247-256.
  • 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 (optional).
  • Chase Robinson, Empire and Elite after the Muslim Conquest. The Transformation of Northern Mesopotamia, (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000), capitolo 1, pp. 1-32 : "Conquest History and its uses".
  • Luke Treadwell, "'Abd al-Malik's Coinage Reforms : the Role for the Damascus Mint", in Revue Numismatique 2009, pp. 357-381 (scaricabile dal sito Persée).

Any material projected during classes, or read and discussed with the instructor during the course, is part of the compulsory reading list.

Students are considered as having attended the course when they attended at least 75% of the classes.

An alternative bibliography in French has been uploaded on the Moodle platform for students who cannot read English.

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

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 will be uploaded on the e-learning platform (Virtuale).

Office hours

See the website of Caterina Bori