Each assignment is due in the instructor’s mailbox during the week indicated below. Count Week 1 as the first week that classes begin and Week 15 as the final week of the term. Trimester dates are listed at the upper left hand corner of your registration form.

All papers must be typed, with footnotes and bibliographies where appropriate, and mailed in before the assignment deadline. Send two copies of the paper and an adequately stamped, return-addressed, envelope for the return of one copy with the instructor’s comments. The second copy will be filed by the department. Also, keep the paper returned by the instructor which contains your grade, comments, and date. If you do not fully understand the assignment or need help, telephone the instructor during office hours, or mail in your questions.

University regulations forbid assigning a grade of “I” (Incomplete) unless at least one course assignment has been received by the instructor. Instead, we must assign a “U” grade (Unauthorized Incomplete), which is equivalent to an “F.”

Assignment 1

Read: P Hitti, History of the Arabs, Parts 1-2.

Due Date: Week 5

Length: 1400-1600 words (give exact word count)

Paper Topic: The Individual in History:

In The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Michael Hart selects Muhammad as the single most influential person in all human history. He states “Muhammad was responsible for both the theology of Islam and its main ethical and moral principles. In addition, he played the key role in proselytizing the new faith, and in establishing the religious practices of Islam.... Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind the Arab conquests he may [also] rank as the most influential political leader of all times. Hart may be taken as a proponent of one extreme regarding the influence individuals have on history.[1] <#_ftn1> Commonly called the “Great Man Theory,” it argues that individuals sometimes appear who have seem to shape events through the force of their own intellect, personality, or skill. Human progress is regarded as being primarily due to the work of these individuals who are so powerful that they shape events for good or evil. Examples often put forth in this tradition include but hardly are limited to Alexander the Great, Hitler, Napoleon, and Elizabeth I.

The opposite extreme, broadly called “determinism,” holds that the impact of individuals is more apparent than real. Some hold that history has and will move toward a predetermined end regardless of individuals. Less extreme proponents hold that apparently influential individuals succeeded only because they were at the right place at the right time. The airplane, calculus, electric light, telephone and theory of evolution may commonly be attributed to the Wright brothers, Newton, Edison, Bell, and Darwin, but others were working along the same lines at the same time, and all had precursors who had similar ideas but lived before all the components required for success existed.

Modern historians work from the premise that there is no single cause for anything, and that most events would have occurred even without the particular leader who guided them. Thus, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence argues that “almost [the Semites] were monopolists of revealed religions, [three of which had] endured and two had borne export to non-Semitic peoples. These were their successes. Their failures they kept to themselves. The fringes of their deserts were strewn with broken faiths. It was significant that this wrack of fallen religions lay about the meeting of the desert and the sown. It pointed to the generation of all these creeds. They were assertions; so they required a prophet to set them forth. The Arabs said there had been forty thousand prophets: we had record of at least some hundreds. None of them had been of the wilderness; but their lives were after a pattern. Their birth set them in crowded places. An unintelligible passionate yearning drove them out into the desert. There they lived a greater or lesser time in meditation and physical abandonment; and thence they returned with their imagined message articulate, to preach it to their old, and now doubting, associates. The founders of the three great creeds fulfilled this cycle: their possible coincidence was proved a law by the parallel life histories of the myriad others...”

Answer This Question In Your Paper: Is Hart or Lawrence closer to the truth? That is, is the individual or the time in which he lived more important to understanding the historical impact of Muhammad?

Assignment 2

Read: P. Hitti, History of the Arabs, Parts 3-5.

Due Date: Week 9

Length: 1400-1600 words (give exact word count)

Paper topic:

The Arabs built on the achievements of subjugated peoples—on classical literature, Hellenistic thought, Byzantine institutions, Roman law, Syriac scholarship and Persian art. Their achievements were original and distinctive particularly in architecture, astronomy, geography, literature, law, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, science, and theology. The period of greatness coincides roughly with the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties, although in some areas extends for another century or two beyond the destruction of the latter in what Hitti calls “petty” or “sundry” dynasties and states, particularly in Spain and Egypt.

Answer One of These Questions In Your Paper (Adjusting the scope of your paper to the word limit, most probably by selecting a limited number of areas of achievement from the list above): (1) Were the great achievements of Arab civilization derivative or original? Or, (2) How important was the Arab contribution to the European Renaissance?

Assignment 3

Read: P. Hitti, History of the Arab Peoples, Part VI

B. Lewis, What Went Wrong

Due Date: Week 14

Length: 1400-1600 words (give exact word count)

Paper topic: Causes, effects, and patterns in history:

Escalating terrorism directed at the West since 1968 (longer than most remember) by factions within the Arab world demand analysis. There is a vast amount of material beyond Bernard Lewis’s book to help you answer this question, including pieces in journals (as a CSUDH student, you can access many at a distance through although you sometimes will have to obtain a password), on the internet (using search engines such as and additional books. David Benjamin Age of Sacred Terror or the United Nation’s Arab Human Development Report, 2002 (written by Arab scholars) are among many useful recent works, and more are coming out all the time.

Answer These Questions In Your Paper: Why are some Arab Muslims so militant and angry? What is the larger historical context in which this is occurring? How should the West react to these events?