Islamic Civilization in Spain and North Africa until 1492

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Course Information
Religious Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



This comparative study of Islamic Civilization in the Mediterranean region focuses on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of the region, the links with classical antiquity, and the development of Islamic science and a distinct Islamic culture.  The course also explores the interaction of Islamic Spain with Christian Europe and its significance for Philosophy, Medicine, Astronomy, Chemistry, and Mathematics.

Watch this short video to get an overview for this course!

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course-related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies. If a student misses more than three classes in any course 3% of the final class grade will be deducted for every unjustified student absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Method of presentation: 
  • Overview of the session.
  • Lectures by the instructor supported by Powerpoint presentations and audiovisual materials that illustrate the contents.
  • Every unit includes a required reading.
  • The first part of every sesión consits of: resolve doubts and inquiries, review of the previous sesión contents and analysis of the required readings.
Field study: 
  • The Great Mosque of Granada
  • Itinerary by the Islamic Granada
  • The al-Andalus Pabillion
  • The Sciences Park
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Active class participation - 30%
  • First mid-term examination - 20%
  • Second mid-term examination - 30%
  • Research paper - 20%




Week 1 An introduction to the Arab-Islamic civilization, mandatory for the correct assimilation of the course content. (Week 1) The birth of Islam and its evolution through the beginning of the Omeyan Caliphate (660).  Fundamentals, institutions and basic concepts of classical Arab-Islamic civilization.
Week 2 The social, political and religious history of Al-Andalus and North Africa until the end of the 15th century, with an emphasis on the relations between both regions in the Mediterranean context, in a climate of coexistence and tensions between different social groups. (Week 2-9) Conquest and the spread of Islam and the Arab culture in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.  The omeyyads Caliphate of Cordoba.
Week 3   Social, political and religious history of Al-Anadalus and North Africa during the Omeyyads Caliphate of Cordoba.
Week 4   Social, political and religious history of Al-Andalus and North Africa under the Taifas kingdoms.
Week 5   Social, political and religious history of Al-Andalus and North Africa under the Almoravids.
Week 6   Social, political and religious history of Al-Andalus and North Africa under the Almohads.
Week 7   The Nasrid Kingdom of Granada and its relations with North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Week 8   Social and religious structure of Al-Andalus and North Africa.
Week 9 Analyze the culture and intellectual life of Al-Andalus and the Maghreb in the Mediterranean context, with aparticular attention to the reception of classical Greek and Latin culture, and its transmission to Christian Europe. (Week 9-11) The reception of classical Greek and Latin culture in Al-Andalus, North Africa and the Islamic Mediterranean, and its transmission to Christian Europe.
Week 10   The scientific production of Al-Andalus and North Africa, and its influence on the sciences of Christian Europe: Botany, pharmacology, medicine, veterinary, agricultural studies, mathematics, chemistry, and astronomy.
Week 11   Philosophy and thought in Al-Andalus and North Africa.  Influence on philosophical thought in Christian Europe.


Required readings: 
  • Antaki, Ikram. La cultura de los árabes. Mexico: Siglo XXI, 1989.
  • Arjona Castro, Antonio. Anales de Córdoba musulmana (711-1008). Córdoba: Monte de Piedad, 1982.
  • García Arenal, Mercedes. Los moriscos. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1975.
  • García Gómez, Emilio. Poemas arábigoandaluces. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1982.
  • Garaudy, Roger. Promesas del Islam. Barcelona: Planeta, 1982.
  • Hagerty Fox, Miguel José. Ajimez. Jerez: Arenal, 1983.
  • Hagerty Fox, Miguel José. Los cuervos de San Vicente. Escatología Mozárabe. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1978.
  • Lévi-Provençal, E., y García Gómez, E. (eds.). El siglo XI en primera persona. Las memorias de `Abd Allah, último rey zirí de Granada. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1982.
  • Maalouf, Amin . León el Africano. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1989.
  • Maíllo Salgado. ¿Por qué desapareció Al-Andalus?. Buenos Aires: Cálamo de Sumer, 1997.
  • Menéndez Pidal, Ramón (ed.). Flor nueva de romances viejos. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1976.
  • Rubiera Mata, María Jesús. La arquitectura en la literatura árabe. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1981.