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Level 4

4AAT1951 Islam: Later Developments


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Dr Kazuyo Murata

New model

One 2,000-word essay (40%) and one two-hour closed book exam (60%)

Previous model

One 2,500-word essay (40%) and one two-hour closed book exam (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: One two-hour weekly lecture over ten weeks
Pre-requisites: None; a basic knowledge of Islam (i.e. key terms and early history) helpful but not necessary

This module provides an overview of Muslim thought and history from around 1000 to 1500 CE, a period in which the still-expanding Muslim world witnessed rapid sophistication of ideas and cultures, and the flowering and cross-fertilization of various currents of thought. Much of the Muslim scholarship produced during this period still serves as the foundation of Muslim intellectual discourse today.

The module introduces students to the work and ideas of key intellectual figures from this period, while situating them in their specific socio-political contexts. The module revolves around the following three key themes: i) mutual critique and influence among Muslim theologians, philosophers and Sufis; ii) intertwinement of religious thought and politics in the medieval Muslim world; and iii) reason versus revelation. Thinkers to be studied include al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Suhrawardi, Ibn al- Arabi, Rumi and Ibn Taymiyya.


Sample topics

  • Following the Prophet: Popular Culture and Literature after 1000 CE
  • Synthesis of Muslim Learning and Polemic against the Philosophers: al-Ghazali (d. 1111)
  • Philosophy in al-Andalus I: Ibn Tufayl (d. 1185) and Arabian Robinson Crusoe
  • Philosophy in al-Andalus II: Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) and Muslim Aristotelianism
  • Synthesis of Ancient Persian Wisdom, Greek Philosophy & Sufism: Illuminationism of Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi (d. 1191)
  • Path of Love: Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) and His Persian Poetry
  •  Theoretical Sufism of Ibn al-Arabi (d. 1240)
  • Anti-Rationalism and Scripturalism of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328)

Further information

Module aims
  • To familiarise students with major thinkers of medieval Islam (circa 1000-1500 CE)
  • To present key historical developments underlying the formation of medieval Islamic thought
  • To familiarise students with the key theological issues and debates of this period
  • To help students understand the diversity of Muslim intellectual discourse
Learning outcomes


Generic skills
  • Ability to engage critically with primary and secondary texts
  • Ability to summarise and present arguments
Module specific skills
  • Develop a familiarity with the main aspects of later Islamic history
  • Achieve an understanding of main themes and key doctrines in medieval Islamic thought
  • Develop an understanding of medieval Muslim religious culture
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document available here for academic year 2015-16.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.
Preliminary Reading

John Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (Oxford: OUP, 2002).
Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (NY: Modern Library, 2002).


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