ISC115 – The Formative Period of Islam


The module will cover two important periods: the life of the Prophet and the era of the caliphate leading up to the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty. It will discuss topics such as:

  • The Prophet’s Succession and the Quraish Rule
  • The five caliphs after the Prophet
  • Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and the selection committee (shura)
  • Caliphate system crisis: ‘Uthman and Banu Umayya
  • Imam Ali’s Caliphate in Kufa
  • Imam al-Hasan’s caliphate
  • The evolvement of Imamite trends
  • The birth of the Khawarij

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

  • Differentiate, in approach, the process of leadership in early Islam and outline theories behind the fundamental differences that exist between the institutions of Caliphate and Imamate. (A2, A3)
  • Compare and examine the relationship between Islamic themes and their historical context. (A7)
  • Analyse factors concerning encounters between the Muslims and other civilizations. (A8)

This module will call for the successful student to:

  • Select, collect and organize historical primary sources and use sources effectively. (B6, C1, C5, D5)
  • Formulate material accurately and present research accurately and concisely, both in written form and verbally. (C1, C2, C4, C5, D1- D3, D6)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

This module is taught through the medium of lectures, discussions, seminars, independent research and presentations. Students will be encouraged to engage in discussions facilitated by the lecturer in order to learn from others, collaborate and share their understanding of the issues covered. Students work will be developed through class work in groups and search of primary and secondary sources.  Students will present and discuss their work in progress in the class, as they are expected to develop their personal skill along with their teamwork.

Assessment Mode

Formative Assessment:
Formative assessment is an important part of the learning process and has been shown to help improve both grades and learning style.  As students you receive formative feedback in a variety of ways, orally, in writing, to the whole class or individually. The module leader will regularly give feedback to student regarding the progress of their coursework, a draft copy of the completed coursework need be handed in to the module leader before the 10th learning week as part of the formative learning process. Students may hand in their PowerPoint slides to the lecturer for guidance prior to the 9th learning week. They will also receive formative feedback on their presentations after completing them, and guidance and feedback can be gained from student-led discussion, which will help them improve future performance.

Summative Assessment:
Summative assessment for this module is by presentation and written exam. The 20 minute presentation will require students to convey their research on an agreed area of the course in an effective manner, and should consist of roughly 10 PowerPoint slides (Outcomes 4, 5). The 2-hour written exam will take place at the end of the semester (Outcomes 1, 2, 3).

Assessment Weighting
Written exam: 60%
Presentation: 40%

Learning Materials

Core Reading

  • Dabashi, H. (2017). Authority in Islam: From the Rise of Mohammad to the Establishment of the Umayyads. Routledge.
  • Kennedy, H. (2015). The Prophet and the age of the Caliphates: the Islamic Near East from the sixth to the eleventh century. Routledge.
  • Jačfaryān, Rasul (2003), History of the Caliphs from the death of the messenger to the decline of the Umayyad dynasty 11-132 AH, Qum, Ansariyan.
  • Madelung, W. (1997) The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate, Cambridge University Press.
  • Qarashi, B.S. (2010). The Ahlulbayt Encyclopaedia. Qum: Ansariyan Publications.