In 711, the armies of Islam crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and conquered Spain. We will use our first night in winter quarter to discuss Islam and its origins in Arabia in the 600's.

Wikipedia: Islam is the monotheistic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: ????‎ All?h), and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of Hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to worship God. Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets. They maintain that previous messages and revelations have been partially changed or corrupted over time, but consider the Qur'an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment. The majority of Muslims are Sunni, being over 75-90% of all Muslims. The second largest sect, Shia, makes up 10-20%. About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, 25% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, 2% in Central Asia, 4% in the remaining South East Asian countries, and 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of Europe. With over 1.5 billion followers or over 22% of earth's population as of 2009, Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.


Mark Williams,

The Story of Spain: The Dramatic History of Europe's Most Fascinating Country,

Golden Era Books; 2nd edition (August 1, 2009),

ISBN 0970696930

Product Description:

The book is a popular history of Spain and the Spanish Empire from prehistoric times to the present day. It provides description and analysis of political, social, economic and cultural events over the centuries, which together shaped the history of this distinctive country. The book offers 60 illustrations and maps, including 16 pages of color photographs, as well as lists of historic places to visit at the end of each chapter. There is a dynastic chart, suggested readings, and index.


". . . the dramatic historical pageant of Spain . . . engages the reader from first page to last." -- Midwest Book Review, January 2000

". . . written in a style that clearly allows the reader to grasp the intricacies of Spain’s historical elements." -- Spain 21 Magazine, Spring 2001

"A vivid account of the country's origins and development as a nation..." -- David Baird, Lookout Magazine

"By far the best introduction for students in English to Spain's history and culture..." -- Paul Smith, Professor Emeritus, Department of Spanish, U.C.L.A.

"For a readable and thorough but not over-long account of Spanish history, The Story of Spain is hard to beat." -- Lonely Planet guide to Spain, 2002 edition

"The title of this work prepares us for what it is: a history of Spain..." --Ruth Bennett, CUNY, Hispania Magazine


Bernard Ellis Lewis,

Islam: The Religion and the People,

Pearson Prentice Hall; 1 edition (August 29, 2008),

ISBN 0132230852

Praise for Bernard Lewis:

"For newcomers to the subject, Bernard Lewis is the man." TIME Magazine

“The doyen of Middle Eastern studies."  The New York Times

“No one writes about Muslim history with greater authority, or intelligence, or literary charm.”  British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper.