1- Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History. New York, Modern Library, 2002.
2- Robert Marks. The Origins of the Modern World. 4th ed. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman
& Little, 2020.
Expository Essay Prompt
Please write an essay on one of the below topics. Please refer to the Expository Essay Guidelines for
instructions on how to write your essay. The idea of this assignment is to engage with the assigned
reading for the course, focusing on one particular aspect of it. Use of websites such as Wikipedia,
etc. to write your paper is NOT ALLOWED. Reliance on such sources and failure to analyze pertinent
class readings will result in a lower grade. All sources must be clearly cited. All quotes, even
quotations of 4-5 words, MUST BE IN QUOTATION MARKS. Failure to clearly cite sources and use
quotation marks when copying word-for-word is plagiarism and may result in you being reported to the
Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities.
If you do use outside sources, please make sure that they are not ordinary websites but rather things
that you obtain from the library or its website (for example, an article from JSTOR is an acceptable
source). Outside sources are NOT required, that said.
Your paper should be approximately 3-5 pages long, double-spaced, in 12 point font. You should use the
APA style of citation. You should not include the title page nor the bibliography page when counting
your page-length. A title page is not required; it is sufficient to put the title at the top of your first page
of text. A Selected Bibliography is essential.
1) How and why did Muhammad ultimately bring peace to the Arabs? How did his teachings
advocate for peace? How did he unite the Arabs, and why was this significant?
2) Discuss the context of Muhammadâ€™s prophecies. What issues of inequality were confronted by
the peoples of Mecca in Muhammadâ€™s time? How does the Koran seek to alleviate such
problems? In other words, how does the Koran seek to promote social justice?
3) According to Marks, how is a Eurocentric model for viewing world history inaccurate and
misleading? How does Marks prove his point, and what historical example(s) does he use to
introduce this idea?
4) Discuss Sufism. What is Sufism and what kind of message did Sufis preach to Muslims? How
was their message different from yet similar to mainstream Islam?
5) Discuss Shiâ€™ism. Who were the Shiah i-Ali and what beliefs did they form? How did their beliefs
differ from those of other Muslims? What event(s) did they commemorate, and why? Whom
did they believe should rule over Muslims, and why? (NB: Shiah i-Ali, Shiis and Shiâ€™ites refer to
the same persons; they are variants of the same word. Shiâ€™ism continues to be an important
sect of Islam today but I have posed this question in the past tense as I would like you to focus
on historical aspects of Shiâ€™ism as described by Armstrong)
6) What was â€œthe biological old regimeâ€? What factors limited human population growth prior to
1800? How did the constraints placed upon humans at this time contribute to biodiversity?
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