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[Note to GE Committee: The syllabus is not yet complete with the details on topics and
assignments for Bruce Fisk’s segment on the history and perception of the last 100 years
of Israeli/Palestinian relations yet to be finalized. (Bruce’s preparation and departure for
Mediterranean Semester necessarily delayed this section.) As a result the weighting of
various assignments for the final grade and summative assignments/evaluations are yet to
be determined. It is hoped that there is sufficient evidence in the sections that are
complete that the course will meet the objectives of a Thinking Globally course.
Moreover, the incompleteness of the syllabus has meant that the course has not yet gone
before the Senate Review Committee. GE Committee approval will be considered
provisional, pending approval of the course as a new course by the Review Committee.]
The Middle East in Story and History: Draft Syllabus
IS ?? [Lower division course number to be determined]
Westmont Summer Scholars Program
Summer 2011
Charlie Farhadian
Jamie Freidman
Bruce Fisk
Chris Hoeckley
This team-taught interdisciplinary course introduces students to key features of the
Middle East—it’s major religious tradition, Islam (with reference also to Eastern
Christianity and Judaism); how the cultures of this region have been imagined through
history in English literature; and the historical development and American Christian
perception of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, arguably the region’s central conflict in the
last century. Each of these topics will be taught by different instructor, with a daily
discussion section facilitating the synthesis of these different elements.
Segment A:
What is Islam?
Dr. Charles Farhadian
This short course introduces the world of Islam in its religious and historical contexts.
Topics will include the history of early Islam, the life and times of Prophet Muhammad,
the Quran, the division between Sunni and Shia, and the formation of the traditions of
Hadith and Shariah, and modern interpretations of Islam. Students will be introduced to
Islam’s central beliefs, institutions and practices. Additionally, the course will stress the
sources, doctrines, practices, institutions, and modes of expression of Islam. Students will
have the opportunity to lead class discussions on readings and research.
Quran (any English translation will be fine). I typically use A. J. Arberry, The Koran
Interpreted (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster), but students are not required to
purchase this one.
Frederick Denny, An Introduction to Islam (3 edition; Pearson Prentice Hall)
John Esposito, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (Oxford University Press)
F. E. Peters, A Reader on Classical Islam (Princeton University Press)
Class handouts on Eureka
1. Attendance and Participation (25%). Attendance is mandatory and subject to the
policies of Westmont College. Failure to appear for the examination will result in an “F”
for the examination. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions. Beyond
your attendance in class, the Attendance and Participation grade includes the following
two requirements:
Students are expected to lead informal class discussions throughout the course
and actively engage in class discussions. Discussions that focus on introducing the
primary source readings for the day should include some reflection on the similarities and
dissimilarities between Christianity and Islam regarding the topic of the day. These will
be student-led informal discussions, but please turn in your work to the professor after
class. The student presenter should prepare the following on one or two pages:
a. A brief summary of the passages: e.g., who are the authors, roughly
when were the passages written, what is the content of the passages?
b. Questions that arise from those passages; e.g., what strikes you as
particularly interesting?
c. What do these passages teach us about the world of Islam?
d. If appropriate, how would you compare Christianity to Islam with
regard to the reading: e.g., do the passages utilize Christian sources? If so,
what are the differences between the two traditions? What are some
e. Point out to the class sentences that highlight the important parts of the
Note: When there are several passages to discuss, feel free to select the most interesting
ones in your judgment. The questions above are only suggestions. You may engage the
passages with whatever questions you think are important to discuss. In most cases, it
will be impossible to discuss all aspects of the day’s reading.
Note: readings are to be done prior to class.
2. Brief paper on an approved topic (25%). 1200 words. Do not use Internet sources, but
you may consult the web for dates and names. Do feel free to consult the library’s online,
full-text journal articles. The paper should examine Islam in a specific country of the
Middle East. Papers should include some reflection on the comparison between Islam and
Christianity, even if it is a small part of the paper.
3. Journal (25%). Keep a daily journal that records your personal interaction with the
course material. Your journal should be a combination of personal and academic
reflection. Please give the journal to the professor after our final class on Friday.
4. Examination (25%)
1. In the upper right-hand corner type your name, the date, the course number, your
Westmont mailbox number (MS#), and the number of words in the paper. Never use a
cover sheet.
2. Two lines down, centered, type the title of your paper.
3. Use the Times New Roman 12-point font.
4. Set your line spacing to double.
5. Use one-inch margins on all sides.
6. Place page numbers in the lower center of all pages except the first.
7. Italicize non-English words (no need to underline)
8. Staple the assignment (if more than one page) in the upper left-hand corner.
9. Write the paper as though the reader know nothing of the material. You will need to
define terms.
1. Role will be taken at the beginning of each class period. Failure to appear for an
examination will result in an “F” for that examination.
2. Lectures may not be recorded, unless with the permission of the professor
3. Please bring relevant texts to class.
4. Please contact the professor if you have any questions or concerns:
Office: Porter Center 10
Email, [email protected]; Phone, 565-7094
5. The professor may change the syllabus during the course.
Monday, June 20
Section introduction: Welcome!
Journal writing
Film selections: Empire of Faith
Read the following:
A. Judaism & Christianity
 Denny, chapter 1
 Peters
o 3.1 The Peoples of the Book
o 3.2 The Errors of the Jews
o 3.3 The Jews Warned by Their Own Prophets
o 3.4 The Error of the Christians
1. Class Discussion
Qur’an (Allah) 28:70-73; 35:1-3; 57:1-6; 64:1-4; 67:1-5
Qur’an (God in Creation) 56:57-74, 36:33-47, 6:95-101, 13:2
Qur’an (Adam, Eve, and Satan) 7:10-30; 15:26-43; 20:115-27
Qur’an (Prophetic histories) 11:25-49; 6:72-84
2. Class Discussion
o 1.1 The Quran on Creation
o 1.2 Adam and Angels
o 1.4 The Covenant with Abraham
o 1.5 Abraham and Ishmael in the Holy Land
o 1.8 The Prophet Moses
o 1.9 The Wisdom of Solomon
o 1.10 The Muslims’ Jesus
B. The Life of Muhammad
Denny, chapter 3
3. Class Discussion
2.1 Muhammad’s Descent from Adam
2.2 The Birth of the Prophet
2.3 The Scriptural Prediction of the Coming of the Prophet of Islam
2.4 Marriage with Khadija
4. Class Discussion
2.5 Muhammad’s Call and First Revelation
2.6 Sadness, Doubt, and Consolation
2.31 Muhammad’s Illness and Death
Qur’an 96, 97, 53:1-49; 52:29-47; 51:50-55; 42:1-7; 43:31-45; 6:155-65;
17:9-21; 17:90-100; 8:30-35
C. Mecca
5. Class Discussion
1.12 Mecca in the Era of Ignorance
1.13 The Religion of Mecca
2.12 Muhammad’s Night Journey
2.13 Losses, Personal and Political
2.14 An Invitation from Yathrib
2.15 A Turn to Armed Resistance
6.1 How Paganism and Idol Worship Came to Mecca
D. Medina
Qur’an 47:1-13; 2:190-95; 2:216-18; 8:1-19; 63:1-8; 9:1-24; 9:90-112; 2:109-114;
2:124-52; 3:140-52
6. Class Discussion
2.16 The Hijra or Migration to Medina (622 CE)
2.17 The Constitution of Medina
2.18 Jewish Opposition
2.20 The Battle at the Badr Wells
2.22 From Badr to the Battle of the Trench
2.26 “The Truth has Come and Falsehood Has Passed Away”
Tuesday, June 21
Section: Islamic beliefs and worship
Journal writing
Film selections: Islam: Empire of Faith
Read the following:
A. Basic beliefs & Worship practices
Denny, chapter 5 (only pp., 97-120)
Qur’an 5:6-11, 2:183-87, 23:1-11, 5:1-5, 5:87-93
1. Class Discussion
6.2 Islam and the Graven Image
6.3 The Muslims’ Prayer
6.4 Prophetic Traditions on Prayer
6.5 The Direction of Prayer
6.7 The Institution of the Call to Prayer
6.8 On the Manner and Intent of Prayer
6.9 The Friday Service
2. Class Discussion
3.24 The Five Pillars of Islam
3.25 Moral Islam
3.26 Alms and Charity
3.27 The Sixth Pillar: War in the Path of God
3.28 There is No Compulsion in Religion
Qur’an 2:196-203; 22:25-37; 37:83-113
o 6.14 Islamicizing the Hajj
Wednesday, June 22
Section: The Hajj
Journal writing
Film: Inside Mecca
Read the following:
A. Details of the Hajj
Denny, chapter 5 (only pp. 120-127)
Thursday, June 23
Section: The Sufi tradition
Journal writing
Film: I am a Sufi, I am a Muslim
Read the following:
A. Sufism
 Denny, chapter 10
1. Class Discussion
7.1 This World and the Next: The Islamic Preaching
7.2 The Historical Origins of the Sufi Movement
7.4 Two Sufi Autobiographies: Ibn Abi al-Khayr and al-Ghazali
7.7 Sufi Communities
2. Class Discussion
o 7.10 What is the Mystic Way?
o 7.12 Self-Obliteration
o 7.13 Oneness with God is Not Identity with God
o 7.15 “I am the Truth”
o 7.16 Ecstatic Utterances
o 7.19 Ibn Khaldun: An Evaluation of the Sufi Tradition
o 7.20 Sufis and Shi’ites
Rumi poetry selections, “O you who’ve gone on pilgrimage,” “We are as the
flute,” “Fihi ma fihi”
Friday, June 25
Section: Islam and the Middle East
Journal writing
Film: There is no God but God
Read the following:
A. Theoretical debates
Edward Said, “Orientalism”
Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage” (Atlantic Monthly, 1990)
Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations? (Foreign Affairs, 1993)
1. Class Discussion on articles above
B. Non-Western Muslim Voices
Esposito, Unholy War (read entire book)
Segment B:
Imagining the Middle East in Medieval and Modern English Literature
Dr. Jamie Friedman
Section Objectives
In this section of the course, we will turn our attention to the medieval past, to investigate
the ways in which the Middle East and its inhabitants were imagined in medieval English
narratives, as well as modern English stories that draw nostalgically upon the medieval
past. In particular, we will examine the types, fantasies, fears, and specific images that
are deployed around the “Saracen” of medieval romance; the significance of English
depictions of traveling East to encounter the Saracen; and contemporary reimaginings of
Muslims that echo medieval depictions. Our goals will be:
to identify common medieval English fantasies of the Muslim/Saracen (that is,
what medieval English authors created as “knowledge” or “truths” about Muslim
2. to examine how those “truths” are used, in particular cultural and historical
contexts, to create meaning and to shape identities – both Muslim and Christian –
in the medieval narrative
3. to trace the persistence of those images through modern discourses of Muslim
4. and to consider how we might, from within our own spiritual and ethical contexts,
respond to these persistent images of real life Muslims
Anonymous. Sultan of Babylon.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. Man of Law’s Tale.
Lewis, C.S. The Horse and His Boy. (selections)
Lewis, C.S. The Last Battle (selections)
Mandeville, John. Travels of Sir John Mandeville. (selection)
Selected contemporary news articles and editorials
Section Expectations
Unless otherwise indicated, you are expected to prepare assigned readings before coming
to class. Preparing an assigned reading means reading the text, annotating significant
words and passages (underline or highlight, write in the margin, or take notes separately),
and coming to class with a thoughtful question or a comment ready to share with the
group. How do you know if a word or passage is significant? Repeated words, passages
in which the author seems to express an idea central to the story, passages which are
confusing or inspiring or thought-provoking or challenging to you personally all qualify
as significant passages. Certainly, passages in which the text deploys images of the
Middle East or Muslim/Saracen are worth noting in this course.
In addition to thoughtful reading, a reading journal will help you to engage with and
respond to our readings. Your reading journal will ask you to engage in some of the
following observations and interpretations regarding key sections in which the Middle
East and its inhabitants appear: What kind of place is the Middle East, as it appears in the
narrative? What kind of characters inhabit that space? What do they do? How do they
look? How do they differ from other characters in the story? How are they similar?
What do they say (about themselves? About others?)? How does the English
imagination of them serve the goals of the story? Further the plot? Help to define the
other characters in the narrative? Journal entries will be prompted either as homework or
as in-class reflection; and I will collect and comment upon journals at the end of the
Reading Quizzes
Each class will start with a reading quiz to provoke thoughtful recall of the assigned
reading and may serve as a springboard to class discussion of the material. Quizzes will
generally consist of short essay answers, and in that form will also provide practice in
doing the kind of written analysis and interpretation found in the final paper.
Short Paper
You will compose a final short paper (3 pages), in which you will make a thesis-driven
argument about some aspect of the fantasy of the Middle East as it appears in one of the
texts we’ve discussed. I will provide paper prompts ahead of time. Papers will be due at
the end of the course.
Attendance and Participation
Participation is crucial in this section: plan to show evidence that you have completed the
readings and have thought about them before coming to class! Plan to share your
prepared question or comment with the class; participate in class discussions; ask
questions of me in class or outside of class; ask questions of your classmates as they
share their own insights about our texts. I don’t expect you to have all the answers (or
any answers, whatever those would be!) about our texts, but I do expect you to come as a
thoughtful learner to our community. We need your vigorous participation to make our
dialogue vibrant and diverse!
Because we are collaborative community of learners, and because our time together is so
compressed, active attendance is vital to your success in this section. Missing too much
section time means you will simply fall behind our momentum, and we will miss out on
your insights. Consequently, missing more than one hour of our section will drop your
final grade a plus or minus degree (that is, an A- would drop to a B+). Missing more than
three hours of the section will necessitate section failure.
Late Assignments
I will only accept late assignments if a true emergency arises and only if you inform me
before the assignment is due.
Plagiarism is the theft of someone else’s words or ideas, including improper or missing
citations. Any plagiarized material I receive will receive a failing grade for the
assignment and potentially for the section. If you are unsure how to cite materials you
are referencing, please don’t risk plagiarizing your sources – refer to an MLA sourcebook
(I like this one from Purdue: or come
and talk with me.
Attendance, Participation 20%
Final Short Paper
Assignment Schedule (subject to change or revision as needed)
Monday, 6.20: The Monstrous Middle East
Section introduction
Saracens: History and Fantasy (lecture)
Quiz: The Sultan of Babylon (students will have read this text in advance)
Begin discussion: The Sultan of Babylon
Journal writing
Tuesday, 6.21: In the Middle: There and Back Again
Finish Discussion: Sultan of Babylon
Quiz: Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale
Discussion: Man of Law’s Tale
Hand out paper topics and discuss (thesis and first paragraph due on Friday, 6.24)
Wednesday, 6.22: The Middle East Speaks Back
Quiz: Mandeville’s Travels (selection)
Discussion: Mandeville’s Travels (selection)
Thursday, 6.23: Reimagining the Middle East in modern England
Quiz: Lewis’ The Horse and his Boy and The Last Battle (selections)
Discussion: Lewis’ The Horse and his Boy and The Last Battle (selections) (students will
have read both Lewis selections in advance)
Friday, 6.24: Modern Echoes of Medieval Fantasies
Quiz: editorial and article
Discussion: editorial and article
Writing workshop: paper theses and introductory paragraphs
Section conclusion