Section 1- Primacy Source Reading
Part 1- Suras 1 and 87 of the Quran
The Quran is divided into several Suras, or chapters. Muslims believe that the contents of the Quran were given to Muhammad to write down, directly from God himself. Sura 1 is opening chapter of the Quran entitled, “The Beginning.” Sura 1 states that prayer is the most important aspect of Islam. It also calls Allah the one true god, implying the monotheism of Islam, which was a dramatic difference from other Arabic religions of the time.
Sura 81 is entitled, “The Most High”. Most of Sura 87 praises God. Sura 87 states that it will be easy to follow a path of righteousness to please God, and any who chooses not to follow the path will end up in the “great fire”.
Part 2- Birch Bark Letters of Novgorod
The Birch Bark Letters of Novgorod are, quite literally, letters written on the bark of a birch tree in ancient times. Though these have been found all around the world the largest collection of Birch Bark letters were found in Novgorod, Russia in the 1950s by Artemiy Artsikhovsky. The letters found in Novgorod were written sometime between the 9th and 15th centuries. The climate in Novgorod preserved the ancient birch bark letters particularly well, the soil in the area is soaked with moisture which prevents oxygen from decaying the letters.
The letters at Novgorod were written mostly in the ancient Novgorod dialect, which little was known about. The letters found in Novgorod had an enormous impact on modern understand of ancient Russian and Slavic languages. To date the letters are the oldest documents written in the dialect that have been discovered. Most letters were by ordinary people discussing everyday issues like their love life or business.
Part 3- Ibn Khnaldun on the Plague.
This sources was written by Ibn Khnaldun in the fourteenth century. It discusses the bubonic plague as it spread through human civilizations in both the western and eastern worlds. The source gives a very description and bleak description of the destruction the bubonic plague had on the world.
According to the source, the bubonic plague destroyed civilizations and almost brought all of mankind to its knees because it was so deadly. The source also points out that the eastern civilizations, while still devastated by the bubonic plague, were not affected quite as badly as the western civilizations were by the bubonic plague.
Section 2- Second Source Analysis and Review
The article presented for Review is entitled “The Impact of Islamic Civilization and Culture in Europe during the Crusades.” The authors of the article are Masoumeh Banitabeli, Kamaruzaman Yusoff and Mohd Roslan Mohd Nor. Banitabeli and Yusoff are both political science professors at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Nor is a professor of Islamic History and Civilization at Universiiti Malaya in Malaysia. The three authors appear very credible as they are professional Islamic scholars.
The article was published by the World Journal of Islamic History and Civilization. This is a scholarly journal, so the article is credible. The article is hosted at idosi.org, which again is scholarly website, and thus credible. The information relatively current as the article was published in 2012. The article references several other credible articles and textbooks on Islamic culture. Overall is it clear that this is a credible article written by qualified individuals after exhaustive research.
The target audience of the article is other Islamic scholars that is why the article appears in a scholarly journal. The research itself appears to be reliable, it doesn’t appear to drastically differ from other scholars in the area, but rather just explains one aspect in depth. Facts and statements are clearly identified throughout the document, if the authors make a statement of opinion they back it up with a cited fact. The sources the authors use are well documents, they also use several primary sources to support their arguments. The article is also free of spelling and grammar errors.
I could not find any information about the website idosi.org, but I googled the authors and they are all university professors with several publications and multiple publications dealing with Islamic culture and history, their reputation cannot be brought into question.
The article would make an excellent and credible secondary source for any research relating to the subject.
Section 3- Video Response
Part 1- My Thoughts
The video is entitled Empire of Faith: Prophet Muhammad and the Rise of Islam. This video discusses the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and early Islam. This video was my favorite video we’ve covered so far. The other videos were limited by the format of the video, they weren’t just trying to show history, they were trying to history using a specific mechanism, in one the video used archeological finds and in another video, the narrator followed Alexander the Great’s trek. This video did not do that, it was simply professors and experts giving historical information. I particularly like the format and I think the format increases clarity, historical accuracy, and effectiveness of communicating the historical information.
The video seemed to be rather accurate. It is important for a video not show clear biases, and this is even more important for a video discussing Islam, seeing as Islam can be controversial today. The video did an excellent job of showing no biases, it discussed the negatives of Muhamad and Islam and also many of the positive things.
The video also seemed to discuss many misconceptions of Islam today, for example the video stated that Islam treated all groups and genders as relative equals. Another example is that there are many drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, though they are not prayed too but used rather for historical purposes.
The video does a fair job of explaining the various aspects of his life. In the early part of the video Muhammad was characterized as a well-respected and trusted arbiter that solved many decisive problems. In the later parts of the video the video discusses Muhammad’s military campaign to Mecca and beyond. The video also discussed several plausible reason why Islam may have spread as quickly as it did.
Part 2- Peer Review Response
While the student may have valid criticism about the video’s accuracy in regards to women, I think the student is engaging in presentism. While women may have not had many rights under Muhamad, they did not have many rights before Muhamad either, and to suggest that women not having rights is bad today, so it must have been bad back them is judging events from the past using the moral standards of the present, which is generally frowned upon by historians.
Part 4 – Group Collaboration
Throughout history religion has often tried to expand its influence through military might. The best example of this is Christian Crusades. The Crusades were a series of nine expeditions carried out by Christian armies to take back the city of Jerusalem from the Muslims who controlled the city at the time. Pope Urban II started the first crusade, partly because he felt that if his forces took Jerusalem, Roman Catholicism to areas of Europe dominated by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Richard, Jean. The Crusades, C.1071-1291. London: Cambridge University Press, 1999
Richard’s book is a thorough examination of the Crusades. Richard’s focuses on the Crusades to Palestine and the Middle East and looks at it from the Christian Army’s point of view, which is a good thing considering how broad the topic of the Crusades can be. Richard’s focuses on a few areas and researches them exhaustively rather than giving a shallow treatment to several issues regarding the Crusades. Richard’s concludes that the Crusades were carried out for several reasons, including to re-connect with the Eastern Orthodox Church, but the single largest reason was to establish Christian nations in the Palestine, which the Crusades ultimately failed to.