Department of History


Iraj Bashiri
1043 Heller Hall
Telephone: 624-3314
Office hours: W, 11:15-12:00
or by appointment


Islam and the West
GLOS 3643; HIST 3546; RELS 3714
Spring Semester, 2018

Conceptual Frame:

This course focuses on the cultural and intellectual trends that have defined the fundamental differences between Islam and the West. It examines the development of the historical, philosophical, and intellectual mindset of both spheres and points out factors that have contributed and continue to contribute to tension, anxiety, and hatred between the peoples of the Middle East and Europe and the United States.


·   Acquaint the students with the fundamental differences between Islam and Western cultures

·   Equip students with the means for a better understanding of international events

·   Teach students to distinguish different trends and accept them for what they are

·   Discuss factors that create tension, anxiety, and hatred among peoples and nations

·   Examine aspects of Islamic and Western cultures that inspire respect and emulation

Class Sessions:


17  Introduction to the course; course content, materials to be covered, office hours, tests, oral report, book report, paper, participation, attendance, grades.
Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 1-12; Shahid, pp. 3-29 (optional)

E-reserve URL:

19    Pre-Islamic Arabia

           Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 12-20

           Oral Reports assigned

22    Prophet Muhammad and the Rise of Islam

           Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 21-33; 49-60


24       "The Message"


26    The Pillars of the Islamic Faith

           Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 73-84

29    Sunni and Shi'ite Sects

           Assignment: Bashiri, Terminology Related to Islam

31    Schools of Islamic Law

           Assignment: Bashiri 2017. Pp. 104-114; Schimmel, pp. 98-186 (optional)


2      "Society of the Just"; Islamic Mysticism

5      Oral Reports Group I

7      Oral Reports Group I      

        Assignment: Bashiri, Attar's Seven Valleys of Love; Rogers, pp. 73-80; 107-136.

9      Islamic Mysticism; "The Sufi Way"

        Study Guide I posted

        Assignment: Hunter, pp. 3-28; 51-76; 191-203

12    Islam in Europe is discussed

14    Open

16    Test 1

        Assignment: Bashiri 2016, pp. 61-73.

19    The Indo-European Background of Iranian peoples

        Assignment: Bashiri 2016, pp. 15-49; Bashiri, The Role of Farr in Firdowsi's Shahname  

21    Discussion of the role of Farr as the mainstay of Iranian government

        Assignment: Grimal, pp. 97-110; Bashiri 2016, pp. 5-12.

23    The Greco-Roman and Iranian accounts of creation

        Assignment: Bashiri, "The Ahuric Order and the Platonic Form"; Bashiri 2014, pp. 6-53.

26    The Greek World: the Presocratics

        Assignment: Bashiri 2014 pp. 54-79

28    Islamic intellectual heritage: al-Kindi and al-Razi

        Assignment: Bashiri 2014, pp. 80-97; Khalili, pp. 35-48, 223-251, 241-251



2      Islamic intellectual heritage: East Meets West

5      Islamic intellectual heritage: Opposition to Philosophy

7      Oral Reports II

9      Oral Reports II

        Assignment: Bashiri 2014, pp. 98-123

12-16      Spring Break

19    Islamic intellectual heritage:  "Al-Gazzali"    

        Assignment: The Republic of Plato

21    "The Republic of Plato"

        Assignment: Utopia (Pt II)

23    Discussion of More's Utopia

        Study Guide II posted
Assignment: Animal Farm

26    Discussion of Orwell's "Animal Farm"

28    Animal Farm documentary

30    Open


2       Test 2

         Assignment: Landen, pp. 174-177; 253-257.

4       Discovery of Oil in the Middle East;

         Assignment: Landen, pp. 3-49; Mansfield, pp. 167-219

6       The Middle East in World War I

         Assignment: Bashiri, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani; Ayubi, pp. 158-162; Sullivan, pp. 162-167.

9       The Rise of Muslim Brotherhood

         Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 173-186

11     Soviet and American Activities in Iran

         Assignment: Bashiri, Afghanistan: An Overview

13     Communist Movement in Afghanistan; Rise and fall of the Taliban

         Assignment: Ismael (1982), pp. 1-41; Bashiri, Muslims and Communists Vie for Power in Tajikistan

16     Communism in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union


18     Oral Reports III

20     Oral Reports III

23     Class Discussion

25     Roots of Terror; "The Battle of Algiers"


27     Radical Islam

         Assignment: Bashiri 2017, pp. 277-306

         Book Report is due

         Study Guide III posted


30     The Islamists




2       Arab Spring

4       General Discussion; Evaluate Course

         Final Papers due


Final Exam (Test Three)

The Final Exam will be on Friday, May 11, 2018, 8:00-10:00 a.m.


There will be three tests, one book report, one oral report, and one paper. Attendance and active participation also carry points.

Observation: note that frequent absences affect both your ability to do well on tests and your points for participation.

Book Report (2 pages, double-spaced)

Any book on Islam, the West, or the interactions among Islamic and Western ideologies is acceptable. If not chosen from the approved book list, the book for the book report must have the instructor's approval. The book report is due on April 27, 2018. It carries 10 points. Look at Guidelines for Writing Book Reports for further information.


There will be three tests. The dates for the tests are geared to the completion of the sections of the course devoted to each main topic. The exams will cover classroom discussions, reading assignments, and oral reports. There will be no make-up tests. Exceptions will be made for hardship cases on an individual basis. The instructor should be informed of the reason for not taking the test in advance. The first test carries 10 points, test two carries 12 points, and test three 15 points. The tests altogether are worth 37 points.

Oral Report

Each student participates in the gathering and delivering of information for one oral report. The topics for reports are assigned early in the course.


Oral Report Presentation:

You can present your report without or with PowerPoint.

1.         Without PowerPoint:

      After delivery, turn in the text of the report to the instructor. It should be about 2 pages double-spaced

2.         With PowerPoint:

a)      If the PowerPoint presentation is comprehensive--8 to 10 slides with full discussion accompanying each slide, illustrations, etc., and bibliography at the end (last slide) that is sufficient.

b)      If you have 8-10 slides + oral notes--turn in the slides and the full text of the notes used for each slide.

Oral Reports are delivered on the day assigned. After the presentation, the text of the report is emailed by the instructor to students for the next test. Students are responsible for knowing the contents of all reports given before a test. The oral report is graded for the quality of its overall contribution to the class, delivery, and impact. The student must be ready to answer related questions asked by the class or the instructor. Failure to participate at the time assigned results in the loss of 5 points. Failure to provide final copy of your report for distribution to the class results in the loss of the rest of the points. The oral report carries 15 points. Look at Guidelines for Oral Reports for further information.

Note 1: The time limit for oral presentations is 10 minutes. After presentation, the full report must be submitted for distribution.

Note 2: If you use PowerPoint for your presentation, you MUST email it to me two days before the presentation date.

Final Paper

The paper should be 10 pages double-spaced, hard copy, and presentable. It should deal with aspects of Islam and its interaction with the cultures of the West. The paper should include an introduction, a reasonable development of the topic proposed, and a clear indication of diligent research. Look at Guidelines for Writing Papers for information on writing the paper. The paper must be submitted in hard copy and is due on May 4, 2018. The paper carries 30 points as follows:

Aspects of paper

# of points



relevance and originality










footnotes & bibliography






Attendance is taken by passing a roster to be legibly signed. Each absence is worth half a point. Remember to sign the attendance sheet as it circulates. If you are late, make sure to sign it at the end of class. Attendance carries 3 points.


Active participation in discussions carries 5 points.

Grading Scale:

4.0 scale

































Note on Readings:

To be purchased:

Bashiri, Iraj. Modern Iran: Caliphs, Kings, and Jurisprudents, Cognella Publishers, 2017. (required)

Bashiri, Modern Iranian Philosophy: From Ibn Sina to Mulla Sadra Shirazi, Cognella, 2014. (optional)

Bashiri, Ancient Iran: Cosmology, Mythology, History, 2nd edition, Cognella, 2016 (optional)

Hunter, Shireen, Islam, Europe's Second Religion: The New Social, Cultural, and Political Landscape

Free books available online:

More, Sir Thomas, Utopia (

Plato The Republic of Plato (

Orwell, George, Animal Farm (


The following readings are available on E-reserve at Wilson Library:

The following readings are available on reserve at Wilson Library:

The following readings are from the general collection at Wilson Library:

1.      Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Yale University Press.

2.      Ali, Tariq (2000). The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity, Verso, 2002.

3.      Chambers, James (1979). The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe, Oxford University Press.

4.      Hiro, Dilip. (1994 & 1995). Between Marx and Muhamad: The Changing Face of Central Asia, Harper Collins Publishers.

5.      Ismael, Tareq, and Jacqueline S. Ismael (1985). Government and Politics in Islam, St. Martin's Press.

6.      Lewis, Bernard (2002). What Went Wrong?, Oxford UniversityPress.

7.      Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto, with an Introduction by A.J.P. Taylor, Penguin Classics, 1967.

8.      Said, Edward W. (1978). Orientalism, Vintage Books.