Topic:History of Islamic Civilizations – Take-Home Exam

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Give a short answer (approx.250 words) to the following 4 questions.

1) Why did the Abbasid Caliphs decline in power during the mid-10th century? Answer with specific reference to ibn Miskawayh’s observations (6 Jan. readings).

2) Do you agree with ibn Khaldun’s (d.1406) theory of social change? Explain with its possible application (or not) to specific events from Islamic history.

3) What does the story of the unfaithful wife (9 Mar. readings) from the 1001 Nights tales, reveal about post-10th-century Islamic urban centres? Is it mere fantasy or a reflection of some aspects of gender relations?

4) In what way does the tale of Hayy ibn Yaqzan (16 Mar. readings Sections 3-5 and 10-12, (on pages 43-45 and 51-53)) illustrate Islamic philosophy’s main contribution to the problem of faith and reason?


Write an essay (approx.1000 words) in which you answer the following question. Make sure you include an introduction, analysis, and conclusion with plenty of direct illustrative examples from the readings and the lectures. I am, of course, interested in your opinions, but a good grade is more dependent on your ability to demonstrate a good knowledge of the material, and how it is woven together, rather than your specific opinion of its significance.

Q) Among the many issues we discussed in the second term of this course, which two interrelated themes or events did you find most important in terms of their impact (positive or negative) on the history of Islamic civilization? Explain the nature of the two themes or events. How are the two related? Why did you choose them as opposed to others? Would you say they were specific to the Islamic World or part of the general history of human societies?

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