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The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

Eamonn Gearon,
Johns Hopkins University

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The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

Course No. 3863
Eamonn Gearon,
Johns Hopkins University
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4.8 out of 5
37 Reviews
91% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 3863
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for diagrams, illustrations, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. While the video version can be considered lightly illustrated, there are original sketches, artist renderings, Arabic translations, maps, books, and text on screen, which may help reinforce material for visual learners.
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover the astounding scientific and cultural achievements of the Abbasid Empire, from chemistry and mathematics to astronomy and philosophy.
  • Meet some of the scientists, philosophers, scholars, and travelers who changed the course of world history.
  • Learn about the texture of life in the Islamic Golden Age, from Baghdad's House of Wisdom to day-to-day domestic life.
  • Encounter the often-over-looked story one of the most important civilizations in world history, which is fascinating in its own right and also serves as an important bridge between antiquity and modernity.

Course Overview

The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the “Dark Ages,” and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But most students of history have only a passing familiarity with a significant period known as the Islamic Golden Age in the Greater Middle East, from about 750 to 1258. Advancements in medicine, algebra and astronomy; influential figures like Avicenna and Averroes: these asides in the traditional story of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance only gloss the surface of one of the most important periods of world history.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of this crucial 500-year history, headquartered in Baghdad but impacting the wider world. The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks. The philosophers, scientists, inventors, and poets of the Abbasid Empire paved the way for the Renaissance and continue to affect our world today in surprising ways, and The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age brings the story to life in rich detail and will forever change your perspective on world history.

The Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia in much of the Middle Ages, is a vitally important bridge between the ancient and modern worlds. While much of Europe was quietly passing the time, the Abbasid Empire was an international, multicultural hub of trade, travel, education, art, science, and much more. Just a few of the many events and achievements of the era include:

  • Advancements in mathematics, including the birth of algebra and new insights into geometry and trigonometry.
  • The origins of the scientific method, along with the development of chemistry, physics, and astronomy as discrete fields of inquiry.
  • The invention of the modern “teaching hospital” and a medical encyclopedia that served Europe for the next 600 years.
  • The preservation and translation of the world’s great literature, from the Hadith (or sayings of Muhammad) to the master works of Greece and Rome.
  • Ontological philosophy that served future Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians concerned with the nature of God and the relationship between faith and reason.

Meet the People Who Revolutionized the World

While the period of the Islamic Golden Age was comparatively quiet in Europe, the Middle East was a multi-national, multicultural, cosmopolitan brew. The Abbasid Empire was a highly educated, highly mobile society, and you’ll follow in the footsteps of many travelers as they made their way around the empire, from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. For instance, you’ll meet Ibn Battuta, who traveled more extensively than even Marco Polo and whose life gives us an amazing window into a society little studied in the West.

The epicenter of the age was Baghdad and its House of Wisdom, the world’s preeminent center for learning, translation, and original research at the time. Thanks to the House of Wisdom, scholars, scientists, artists, and other great thinkers flourished. Among them, you will learn about:

  • Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who established the House of Wisdom and was later immortalized in Arabian Nights
  • Al-Jahiz, an Arabic writer who discussed evolution a thousand years before Darwin
  • Iman al-Bukhari, who sifted through hundreds of thousands of alleged sayings from Muhammad and compiled the official hadith
  • Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest Talmudic scholars of all time
  • Al-Jazari, the so-called “father of robotics” who lived nearly fifteen hundred years before the computer age
  • Ibn Sina—also known as Avicenna—one of the world’s most influential thinkers and one of the founders of modern medicine

In studying these astonishing individuals, you’ll get a glimpse at another side of history that has been often overlooked. While many of these names may be unfamiliar to Western audiences, their impact continues into our world today—from the all the benefits of the Scientific Revolution down to the humble three-course meal popularized by a trendsetting cook and musician named Ziryab.

Unlock the Achievements of the Golden Age

Although the word wasn’t coined until much later, today we would call many of the influential figures of the Islamic Golden Age “scientists”—experimental thinkers who researched everything from the circumference of the Earth to the classifications of chemical compositions. This period saw the birth of the scientific method—including the origins of the “control” in an experiment—and ushered in transitions from what we would call astrology to astronomy, and from alchemy to chemistry.

In this course, you will witness the era’s many forays into mathematics and the sciences, theology and philosophy, agriculture and architecture. For example:

  • Meet al-Khwarizmi, who built on the works of the Greeks and Babylonians to formalize algebra as its own discipline.
  • Explore the world’s first teaching hospitals and encounter several foundational texts on medicine and medical ethics.
  • Find out why so many stars have Arabic names—and how Islamic astronomers challenged Ptolemy’s worldview.
  • Study with al-Haytham, whose revolutionary book on optics offered the first modern insight into how light and vision interact.
  • Discover the delightful inventions of the Banu Masa, including automatic drinking fountains and a steam-powered flute.
  • Tour the rich architecture of the Muslim world, from mosques to military arches to the hanging gardens of the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal.

Finally, no discussion of the Golden Age’s achievements would be complete without a mention of the tension between faith and reason. You’ll encounter several philosophers who wrestle with the age-old question and consider how they resolve the dilemma—and how thinkers such as Ibn Sina influenced later theologians in all three Abrahamic faiths.

A Sumptuous Feast of Insights

Your lecturer, Eamonn Gearon, takes you inside this magnificent era, and introduces you to the people and ideas that make the Islamic Golden Age great. He also steps back and asks a few fundamental questions about the story: When did the Golden Age begin? Why did it come to an end? And why has it not featured more prominently in the history textbooks?

As with his previous popular course, Turning Points in Middle Eastern History, Mr. Gearon is a remarkable storyteller. He expertly draws the links between Aristotle and Ibn Sina, and between Ibn Battuta and the Renaissance poet Petrarch, who, like many history students today, had little understanding of the Islamic Golden Age.

From Baghdad to Cairo, and Alexandria to Cordoba, the breadth of the Abbasid Empire is astounding. With a rich set design and authentic music recreated from the era, The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age immerses you in the fantastic world of Golden Age art, education, prosperity, and innovation—and gives you an incomparable understanding of one of the most vibrant and influential civilizations to ever grace the world stage.

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24 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
  • 1
    From Camels to Stars in the Middle East
    Step back to one of the most important yet overlooked periods in human history. Your tour of the Golden Age of Islamic Civilization begins with the who, what, why, where, when, and how of this great period and its impact. Explore the Abbasid Empire and see how it bridged the ancient world and the Renaissance. x
  • 2
    Ibn Battuta's Search for Knowledge
    As a truly international, intercultural, interracial, and even intercontinental era, great travelers abound. Here, you will meet the Moroccan wayfarer Ibn Battuta and trace his journey across Northern Africa and the Middle East in the century after the Mongol sack of Baghdad. Gain new insights into the era-including whether it ever truly come to an end. x
  • 3
    Arabian Nights Caliph: Harun al-Rashid
    Get to know the great Caliph Harun al-Rashid and Baghdad's House of Wisdom, which was the largest depository of books in the world at that time-and served as the engine that drove much of the Golden Age. Then shift your attention to the Arabian Nights collection of stories and legends to discover the source of al-Rashid's enduring fame. x
  • 4
    The Arab World's Greatest Writer: al-Jahiz
    Considered by many scholars to be the finest writer of Arabic prose who ever lived, al-Jahiz was a brilliant stylist and author of more than 200 works, many of which survive today. In this lecture, you will uncover the origins of Arabic writing before turning to the life and works of al-Jahiz. x
  • 5
    Algebra, Algorithms, and al-Khwarizmi
    The field of mathematics owes a tremendous debt to the Islamic Golden Age. Mathematicians such as Omar Khayyam (who is perhaps better known today as a poet) and al-Khwarizmi built on the work of Babylonian, Greek, and Indian mathematicians to systematize and explain algebra and symbolic algorithms. Survey this critical period of mathematics history. x
  • 6
    Baghdad's House of Wisdom
    During the Abbasid Empire, Baghdad's House of Wisdom was the world's preeminent center for translation and original research. Find out why translation flourished in this era, and meet two of the Golden Age's most important translators: Hunayan Ibn Ishaq and al-Kindi. Then consider the intellectual legacy of the Arabic translation movement. x
  • 7
    Muhammad, the Hadith, and Imam Bukhari
    Hadith" refers to the collected sayings of Muhammad outside of the Quran, all of which were gathered and sifted in an amazing feat of research by Iman al-Bukhari 200 years after Muhammad's death. Journey with al-Bukhari as he wrestles with the authenticity of hundreds of thousands of hadith-and how his work continues to impact Islam today." x
  • 8
    Interpreting and Defending the Quran
    Delve into the realm of Quranic exegesis from the year 750 until about 1258. By considering the life of al-Tabari, one of the most important commentators in Islamic history, you will uncover the method and implications of tafsir, or exegesis. Your study will take you into controversial territory with a look at the infamous Satanic Verses. x
  • 9
    The Arab Herodotus: al-Masudi
    Examine the life and times of one of the era's great travel writers. Following the journey of al-Masudi gives you a broad tour of the Islamic Golden Age and its history. After reviewing his biography and reflecting on his reasons for traveling, you will survey the many subjects he wrote about, from geography and geology to the strategy of backgammon. x
  • 10
    Cairo, al-Haytham, and the Book of Optics
    Al-Haytham's seven-volume Book of Optics is one of the most fascinating works of scientific enquiry in the Golden Age. After reviewing the wider context of Cairo in the 10th century, delve into al-Haytham's experimentation with optics and the eye. Find out why many modern scholars have called him the world's first true scientist. x
  • 11
    Master Muslim Scholar: al-Biruni
    This lecture introduces you to al-Biruni, a scholar and polymath who left a mark on physics, math, astronomy, geography, anthropology, history, and much more. Born in modern-day Uzbekistan, his pursuit of learning and dissemination of knowledge is unparalleled. See what made his scholastic approach and his research methodology so groundbreaking. x
  • 12
    Astronomy in the Islamic Golden Age
    It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Islamic Golden Age on the field of astronomy, as evidenced today by the number of stars with Arabic names. Focusing on the work of three Islamic astronomers, you'll explore the difference between astronomy and astrology, and unpack the many scientific advancements of the era. x
  • 13
    Medieval Muslim Medicine and Hospitals
    Continue your study of the Golden Age's many scientific achievements with a look at the development of medicine and the rise of what today we would call the teaching hospital. Along the way, you will encounter one of the greatest medical minds of all time, Ibn Sina (better known in the West as Avicenna). x
  • 14
    Alchemistry and Chemistry in Early Baghdad
    The word scientist" wasn't invented until the 19th century, but we would nonetheless apply the word to the many scientific thinkers of the Golden Age. Here, you'll witness the process of experimentation that was the start of the scientific method, and you'll see how scientists of the time advanced the field of chemistry." x
  • 15
    The Fertile Crescent, Water, and al-Jazari
    The Middle East's river systems and irrigation methods were vital for the Abbasid Empire to thrive. After learning about the geography and agricultural techniques of the Golden Age, you'll turn your attention to the link between agriculture and politics-and round out your study of water with a look at some beautiful gardens. x
  • 16
    Jewish Scholar in Cairo: Moses Maimonides
    The 12th century Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides offers great insight into the relationship among the three Abrahamic religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Delve into the politics of Cordoba in Andalusia, Spain, during the Golden Age, and then consider Maimonides' scholarship-including his philosophy about the relationship between faith and reason. x
  • 17
    The Banu Musa's Inventions and Automatons
    From water fountains to self-playing musical instruments, the Golden Age saw an astounding amount of ingenuity. Take a look at a few of the era's most interesting and delightful inventions and automations, and then examine the life and work of al-Jazari, who today is considered the father of robotics."" x
  • 18
    Mosques, Architecture, and Gothic Revival
    The development of architecture is a gradual process of shifting styles from one generation to the next, and the 500 years of the Islamic Golden Age gave the world striking advancements in both religious and military architecture. Here, tour the architecture of great mosques and arches, and see how the era influenced the later European Gothic Revival. x
  • 19
    Arabic Verse, Love Poetry, and Wine Songs
    Examine the lives and work of three powerful poets: Abu Nuwas, Abu Tammam, and al-Mutanabbi. Reflect on the role of poetry in the Golden Age, including forms and subject matter, and examine the relationship between poetry and the multicultural world of the Abbasid Empire. x
  • 20
    Medieval Mastermind: Avicenna (Ibn Sina)
    Ibn Sina-or Avicenna-is arguably the most important philosopher in Islamic history, as well as one of the most influential thinkers of all time. Find out what makes him such an important figure in the history of philosophy, and how he built on the tradition of Aristotle. Then shift your attention to his arguments in the realms of ontology and cosmology. x
  • 21
    Entertaining in the Time of the Abbasids
    Shift your attention from the great minds of the Golden Age and find out how people of the time relaxed. As you learn about the era's food and music cultures, you'll uncover quite a few surprises-such as the origins of the traditional three-course meal. You'll also discover that celebrity cookbooks promoting the latest dietary fad are not a modern invention. x
  • 22
    Calligraphy, Carpets, and the Arabic Arts
    We're all familiar with the geometric designs of the mythical flying carpets, but there is an astounding array of Islamic art from the period. Here is your chance to revel in the fine arts of the Islamic Golden Age, which in addition to geometric patterns, included stunning calligraphy, plant or vegetal designs, and figurative representations. x
  • 23
    When Did the Islamic Golden Age End?
    Scholars conveniently cite the Mongolian sack of Baghdad in 1258 as the end of the Golden Age, but as you have seen in this course, the truth is more complex. Consider several reasons why the era came to an end-including outside invaders, shifting finances, changes in faith, and plain old human folly. x
  • 24
    Ibn Khaldun on the Rise and Fall of Empire
    Conclude your survey of the Islamic Golden Age with a big-picture look at what followed, including the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Black Death, and the emergence of gunpowder. While golden ages must inevitably subside, this final lecture gives you the opportunity to reflect on one of the most stunning eras in all of human history. x

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Your professor

Eamonn Gearon

About Your Professor

Eamonn Gearon
Johns Hopkins University
Eamonn Gearon is a Professorial Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington DC. He received his M.A. in Near and Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and has also taught at the American University in Cairo. Mr. Gearon is the cofounder and managing director of The Siwa Group, a specialist...
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The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 37.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was disappointed in the presentation of this course since I had been quite impressed with Eamonn Gearon in his lectures in “Turning Points in Middle Eastern History.” In this course he just seemed to read the lectures and had a great deal of repetition from one lecture to the next. Nonetheless I did learn a quite a bit. The closed-captioning was poor at best.
Date published: 2017-09-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Useful Yet Disappointing As the never-ending “Global War on Terror” continues, we could all use a reminder of the knowledge and beauty of Islamic civilization in its early centuries. The “Islamic Golden Age,” which Professor Gearon equates with the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258), saw a flowering of sciences, philosophy and the arts in the Middle East. Much of the credit goes to Caliphs Harun al-Rashid (786-809) and Mamun (813-833), who established the so-called House of Wisdom as a library and center of learning, invited scholars to the capital of Baghdad, and funded the translation of many texts from Greek, Persian, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Chinese into Arabic. Most of the lectures are devoted to one or two individual scholars, and most the rest deal with certain disciplines (algebra, astronomy, and alchemy), religion (the hadith and Quranic exegesis), and the arts (poetry, architecture, calligraphy, carpets, dining, music, and stories). This was an age of polymaths, people who could excel in multiple fields. There was Al-Kindi (c. 801-c. 873), a convert from Judaism who translated Aristotle, wrote about mathematical induction, argued for an allegorical rather than literal interpretation of the Quran, discussed principles of encryption and decryption and was the earliest known distiller of alcohol. Another was Al-Biruni (973-1050), who compared earlier civilizations in Remaining Traces of Past Centuries, wrote a history of India, served as court astrologer (a respected occupation in those days) to Mahmud of Ghazni, measured the Earth’s circumference more accurately than Eratosthenes, and also wrote treatises on gems and pharmacology. A third was Ibn Sina, later known in the Latin West as Avicenna, philosopher and physician. In the one capacity he posed the hypothesis of a “floating man” who received no sense impressions yet understood from the start that he existed—an idea prefiguring Descartes’ famous “cogito ergo sum.” In the other capacity, he wrote five volumes on medicine still used in Europe as late as the eighteenth century. My favorite quote from the whole course is his aphorism “An ignorant doctor is the aide-de-camp of death.” These three do not exhaust the list, and there are many others who were geniuses in “only” one field, like the historian al-Masudi (c. 896-956), the inventor al-Jazari (1136-1206), the famous collector and editor of hadith (sayings of Muhammad) al-Bukhari (c. 810-870), and the writer al-Jahiz (c. 776-868). Jewish theologian Moses Maimonides gets a whole lecture to himself. You can learn a lot from this course. So what’s not to like? A fair amount, as it turns out. First, Professor Gearon is too eager to prove relevance to us non-Muslims by frequently referring back to the influence of the Islamic Golden Age upon Western Europe. In Lecture 14, for example, he ends with the reception of alchemy in Europe and its eventual fall into discredit in the eighteenth century. Lecture 18 begins with a discussion of a Gothic Revival hotel and railway station in London and the poet John Benjamin. The diffusion of Islamic knowledge is relevant, but he could have handled it better with one or two lectures near the end rather than taking time away from the primary subject of each lecture. Getting rid of fourteenth century figures Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldun, who are outside of his period, would have made room. Second, the course is poorly organized. It would have been helpful to order lectures by discipline or by chronology, but it is neither. Instead it is a jumble. The lecture on the House of Wisdom should have come earlier than #6, given its importance. Ibn Sina should not have been inserted in the middle of an otherwise coherent series on Islamic arts. Some scholars are split among two lectures, like al-Khwarizmi (Lectures 5 and 12), Ibn Sina (Lectures 13 and 20) and al-Haytham (Lectures 10 and 12), which would be defensible if Professor Gearon were taking a consistent disciplinary approach, but he is not. Lecture 15 is a strange mixture of things related to water: channels and dams, al-Jazari’s pumps, farming improvements, the spread of new fruits, and gardening. Lecture 24 on Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) has almost nothing on Ibn Khaldun. Third, Professor Gearon sometimes repeats himself from one lecture to another, and often does so with the start and end years of the Golden Age. Together with his slow, careful delivery and his excessive attention to Christian Europe, this habit reduces what we learn about Islamic civilization. Finally, I am not really convinced by his use of “Golden Age” as a concept or by his setting the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258 as the end of the period. The Abbasid caliphate had already broken up by 1000, losing both territory and tax base. Yet as Gearon himself shows, work went on in Cairo, Spain and elsewhere, and the Mongol Ilkhanate could attract men like historian Ibn Khaldun and traveling jurist Ibn Battuta. Later there were the Ottoman and Mogul Empires, with their scholars, writers, artists and craftsmen. One could argue that the “Golden Age” really went on until Western and Central Europe surpassed Islamic civilization in scientific innovation in the 17th century.
Date published: 2017-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating and eye opening. This course brings to light the amazing intellectual developments in science, mathematics, literature, sociology, history, geography, and other areas in the Islamic nations during the period 750 to 1250 - the "golden age" of Islamic society and the dark ages of Western Europe. The invaluable and astonishing advances in learning and thought he brings to light were not known to and were not equaled by European thinkers until many centuries later and in fact much of this learning when it finally came Europe was instrumental fostering the European Renaissance. Among the advances were the invention of the scientific method (observation, testing, the requirement of clear evidence of propositions rather than faith, philosophical thinking, tradition, religious texts, past authorities, etc.), invention of algebra and Arabic numbers and many other math accomplishments crucial to the much later European scientific revolution, huge advances in astronomy including the heliocentric model of what we now call the solar system centuries before Copernicus and Kepler, incredibly precise calculation of the diameter of the earth, advances in medicine not known in Europe for centuries, not to mention the vast amount of literature, philosophical inquiry, and other intellectual accomplishments. I previously took the course "Great Minds of the Medieval World" and the contrast could not be more striking. The great minds in that course largely spent their time engaged in convoluted and sterile exercises debating the fine points of Catholic dogma - the nature of the trinity and Jesus and Mary. Or they simply collected and indexed what ancient writers had said. Or annotated the bible. Or tried to reconcile the Bible with Greek philosophers. I was left with the feeling that those great minds never came up with anything that actually advanced human learning or the human condition one inch. So the huge strides made during that same period in the Islamic countries puts that cultural heritage to shame. My only complaints about these lectures are (1) that the professor, Eamonn Gearon, who is clearly very knowledgeable and interesting, repeats many points, particularly he repeats over and over that the beginning and ending of the "golden age" is subject to some dispute, it is not clear cut, some think this, some think that, this is why I chose 750 to 1250, etc. He explained that in the first lecture. That was enough. Repetition of this issue (and a couple of other points) over and again was a waste of time, insulting to the listener, and ultimately makes him look defensive or forgetful - like he doesn't remember telling us this before. (2) There is a lack of transition and internal interconnection between lectures that I have experienced in most of the other course that help knit the lectures together - review of what has been covered and where he is going, or some transitions to link them up. In later lectures he makes reference to people or developments discussed in prior lectures without really connecting the two. For example he spends an entire lecture about a man who traveled all over the world gathering great and fascinating information about many nations of the world including the Far East, centuries before Marco Polo. Then several lectures later he talks about a fellow known as the Islamic Herodotus because of his extensive travels and writings about foreign peoples - without ever mentioning the previous fellow or how they compared or whether one even know of the other or how they fit together in time. Seemed to me like an odd disconnect. This and repetition at times gave me the feeling that these lectures were all developed independently and then patched together without really integrating them well. And (3), he jumps around in time so much from lecture to lecture and within a lecture that it gets confusing sometimes. This exacerbates the issue of poor integration and internal interconnection. But this is a very good course and the professor is very good, and I am glad I took it, despite the need for better integration of the lectures. It is full of information everyone should learn about because it is simply not widely known and should be.
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating look at a little known civilization The course gave a provocative look at a civilization that is not well considered by those steeped in European history. It shows tremendous advances made by this civilization while European civilization was languishing. It also has some significant points to consider in view of where the world is going today.
Date published: 2017-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good description of the subject This is my second course with Professor Gearon, he is brilliant. He is very knowledgeable on the subject of the greater Middle East and the historical role played by Islam. He has that great talent to share his knowledge with his listeners/students. Hopefully more courses By Gearon are being planned Alain Pellerin
Date published: 2017-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from These are good lectures delivered in a sensible manner. The course has lots of interesting information not easily found elsewhere. The analysis is thoughtful and the instructor clearly states which opinions are his own.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good introductory overview for Westerners I bought the video but (as I routinely do) I extracted the audio to listen while driving or exercising. I've skimmed through two videos high speed to see how much illustration there is and it seems moderate. I found the course moderately interesting, but I knew up front that this not a particular interest of mine. (I also bought the course on the Ottoman Empire--because I'm the person who suggested the course--although that too is not an area of particular interest for me. That'll be the next course I listen to.) I do think the video version would be a bit more interesting and the video would definitely make it easier to remember things--which is why I did buy the video, not the audio. Imagine that you were born and raised in China and had almost no exposure to European culture or history and you are taking an overview course on European History. This basically is that, but for the Middle East mainly covering 750-1258 AD. An important thing to understand is that MOST of the course does NOT deal with the religion of Islam per se, just as an overview course on United State History doesn't go into detail about Protestantism or Catholicism. For instance, there is no overview of the beliefs and various branches of Moslem theology, conflicts between Christian and Moslem theology, etc. The major problem I found--which certainly are NOT the fault of the professor or TGC--is remembering and not confusing peoples' names. ALMOST EVERY NAME begins with either Al (rhymes with doll), Ibn ("son of") or Abdul. People with a Euro-centric view tend to think, "Egypt ... Greece ... Rome ... Dark Ages/Middle Ages--no progress ... Renaissance ... Modern Age ...." This course shows very well that PROGRESS simply MOVED to the Middle East during the EUROPEAN Dark Ages, and that Europe and the rest of the world got the benefit of that. As I said, this TOPIC is not a particular interest of mine, but I think that anyone who DOES have a particular interest would find THIS course VERY interesting and helpful.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome ! it really amazing, but i have a comment on the picture in page 65 with title " The Quran, Islam’s most sacred text " That isn't Quran :( so please change it
Date published: 2017-06-01
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