Jerusalem: Contested Sanctity
Jerusalem is a symbolic focus of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The idea of the city’s sanctity evolved as the religions in turn claimed, appropriated, and “translated” this sacred space. The course will address the following main questions: How has the city’s sanctity been conceptualized in each of the three faiths? How have the holy places in Jerusalem been organized and utilized by each religious community? What role has the city played in shaping historical memories, religious rhetoric, and national narratives in the Holy Land and beyond?
Subject: Enrollment NMC 277 H1F, Topics in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
This course is a survey of revolts, revolutions, and internal civil and political unrest in the core regions of the Muslim world. In their works writers such as the polymath Ibn Hazm and politician Nizam al-Mulk attack those whom they perceive as “heterodox” or “heretical”
because they believe that such individuals and groups are not only a danger to the spiritual and religious well-being of the Muslim world, but also a real danger to the order and well-being of the temporal world. They assert that such groups cause schism, violence, and chaos in their attempts to overthrow the established “orthodoxy” and to spread their corruption.
The Muslim world has seen its fair share of revolts and revolutions throughout its history. More often than not these revolts have taken on a religious/spiritual coloring. Despite the apparently religiously inspired uprisings, civil wars, and persecutions within the Muslim world during various eras, there have, more often than not, been more worldly motivators for the political and civil strife and unrest that has plagued the region at various points in time such as political/military power and supremacy, economy, wealth/resources, social justice, ethnic/racial/tribal tensions, struggles among the classes that formed the societies of Islam, and generally hope for change and a betterment of the lives of those involved in these movements. More often than not, these revolts and struggles took on a religious coloring to add legitimacy to them and to garner a broader range of support. Despite the fact that some of the motivators of these revolts and revolutions were not religious, religion and its interpretation still played a major role, due to the fact that faith played an important part in the day to day life of the people living in the medieval and early modern periods. These people could relate more to religious messages and could be motivated and mobilized through faith-related appeals more efficiently.
Throughout the course students will examine several revolts, revolutions, and socio-religious movements from the earliest periods of Islamic history to the present in a series of seminars. The themes mentioned earlier will be examined and the role of religion, faith, messianism, hope, and change will all be examined within the broader context of the revolts, their aims, and their motivating factors.
Links will be established between seemingly different movements throughout the history of the Muslim world and in some cases traced to the present day when the Middle East once again finds itself in a struggle that encompasses social, political, economic, and religious factors.
Subject: Enrollment NMC 471 HF, Advanced Topics in Islam
A historical introduction to the present-day Middle East (Egypt, Turkey, Iran, the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian Peninsula) surveying the 19th and the 20th centuries. The major theme is the region’s transition from being a part of indigenous empires, to its incorporation into the modern state system midwifed by European colonial rule. These developments went hand in hand with modifications to, and new definitions of, Middle Eastern peoples’ collective identities. Classroom time is organized around lectures, with opportunities for questions about and some discussion of the material.
Subject: Enrollment NMC278H1-F, Introduction to the Modern Middle East
This course will introduce students to the historical geography of ancient Palestine. The students will be exposed to relevant ancient Near Eastern sources shedding light on the geography of Palestine in the First and Second Temple periods. The following geographical regions will be discussed: Galilee, the Jezreel Valley, the Hill Country of Samaria, Jerusalem, the Hill Country of Judah, the Coastal Plain, the Shephelah, Negev, the Jordan Valley, and Transjordan. Interactive teaching tools include media and visual aids.
Subject: Enrollment: NMC 277 H1S