Turning Points in Middle Eastern History [TTC Video]
27 July 2016, 15:23
Course No 8340 | M4V, AVC, 663 kbps, 852x480 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.39GB
The Middle East is a critically important area of our world. And, with its current prominence in international affairs, media images of the Middle East reach us on a daily basis.
Much media coverage, however, is incomplete at best, failing to take account of either the complexities or the historical background of this pivotal region. For most of us, the real story of the Middle East remains untold. What made this crucial geopolitical area what it is today? What forces and factors underlie what we read in the news, and what drives the current challenges the Middle East both faces and poses? In coming to terms with the present and future of the Middle East, an understanding of its history is not only highly valuable, but essential.
Consider these revealing matters, which bring historical perspective to current events:
- Much popular thought regards the Muslim world as irrevocably separate from and opposed to the West. To the contrary, history shows a spectrum of mutually beneficial alliances between European and Middle Eastern states.
- Islam began on the Arabian peninsula. The political capital moved to Damascus, and in the 8th century, Baghdad was built to be its new capital. These developments broadened the cultural and political perspective of Islam from an Arab worldview to include the heterogeneous Muslim world.
- For thousands of years, the Middle East has been a crossroads of continents, trade, and conquest. Its centrality and diversity have brought material wealth, cultural treasures, and a tremendous exchange of knowledge—and have sparked conflicts leading to political instability and warfare.
Now, Turning Points in Middle Eastern History offers you a penetrating look at the fascinating and thoroughly remarkable past of this storied part of the world. Taught by professorial lecturer and Middle East expert Eamonn Gearon of Johns Hopkins University, these 36 lectures unfurl a breathtaking panorama of history, exploring a 1,300-year window from the rise of the warrior prophet Muhammad to the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. The history you’ll discover here is as dazzling as anything in the Arabian Nights, and is all the more astonishing for being the true story of the Middle East.
Each lecture focuses on a specific historical moment that changed the direction of events or the narrative of history. By investigating these momentous happenings that have most significantly shaped the Middle East and its diverse societies, you’ll gain a deeply informed understanding of how the past informs the present.
Turning Points: Radical Breaks with the Past
In this riveting inquiry, you’ll witness world-changing occurrences such as the birth and phenomenal rise of Islam, the expansion and decline of the Ottoman Empire, and the dramatic discovery of Middle Eastern oil. You’ll accompany the armies of Islam as they invade North Africa and Spain, forever altering civilization in those regions, and witness the Battle of Karbala, where Muhammad’s heirs—the Sunni and Shia—split once and for all.
In the course’s middle section, you’ll discover the wonders of the Islamic Golden Age, and marvel at the superlative advances in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and literature—and the preservation of classical Greek and Roman wisdom—that unfolded in global centers of learning such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba.
You’ll follow the dynamic empire building of the Persian Safavids, the Egyptian Mamluks, and the legendary Ottomans, among others. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire yielded most of the modern states of the Middle East. The far-reaching impacts of its rise and fall, plus the long-lasting influence of the 18th-century Saud-Wahhab Pact—between a desert ruler and a religious reformer, creating today’s Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—are two more expressions of how the past suffuses the present.
Throughout the course, you’ll rub shoulders with numerous remarkable people, including the brilliant and famously chivalrous Muslim general Saladin; Shajar ad-Durr, the only female sultan in Islamic history to rule in her own right; and the dashing Lawrence of Arabia, a key player at the birth of Middle Eastern nationalism.
Unforgettable Historic Moments
Within the narrative of the course, you’ll explore extraordinary happenings that critically shaped Middle Eastern civilization, such as these:
- Conquests of the Umayyad caliphate: In a seminal moment in Middle Eastern history, learn how the powerful Umayyad family of Mecca seized the office of the caliphate (the official leadership of Islam), transferred the temporal center of the faith to Damascus in 661, and molded the religiously inspired Arab-Islamic empire into a politically oriented imperial power.
- The glory that was Baghdad: Study the 8th-century founding of Baghdad as the spectacular seat of the Abbasid Empire. Learn how the city became an architectural wonder and the intellectual and scientific capital of the world, whose House of Knowledge was one of the greatest seats of learning in human history.
- The empire of the Mamluks: Track the remarkable exploits of the Mamluks, a class of slave warriors that became emperors, instituted a system of personal advancement based on merit, defeated the “invincible” Mongols on the field of battle, and ruled Egypt across nearly six centuries.
- The scholarship of Ibn Khaldun: Contemplate the monumental achievements of the 14th-century scholar, historian, and philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who penned a philosophy of history of unparalleled significance and gave birth to the fields of economics, sociology, and historiography.
- Triumph and disaster at the Suez Canal: Assess the international intrigue and the epic feat of engineering that created the Suez Canal, changing the course of global trade. Grasp the contours of the economic fiasco surrounding the canal’s building that cost Egypt control of its economy and government.
- The making of the modern Middle East: Learn about the remapping of the Middle East following World War I by the imperial powers of Britain and France, and the divisive impact these changes had on the region. Follow the emergence of the modern Arab states and the advent of Arab nationalism.
Amid the catalytic events you’ll study, these astounding human beings were emblematic of the turmoil and the victories of their times:
- Fatima al-Fihri, educational visionary: Witness the radical move, by a forward-thinking Muslim woman, to create the world’s first university—making available advanced education beyond religious instruction, 200 years before Europe’s first university.
- The titanic intellectual al-Ghazali: Considered the most historically impactful Muslim after Muhammad, take the measure of Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali, an Islamic theologian and philosopher of comparable significance to St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in the Christian tradition.
- Mansa Musa, the golden emperor: Travel with the richest man who ever lived—the 14th-century emperor Musa of Timbuktu—on his historic hajj to Mecca. Trace how his massive personal spending of gold ruined the economy of Egypt, and how he subsequently founded one of history’s most important archives of ancient wisdom.
- Suleiman the Magnificent, architect of empire: Enter the glittering world of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman, who expanded and formalized rule over an empire that spanned three continents, and whose remarkable legislative, bureaucratic and architectural achievements guaranteed the empire’s vitality for centuries.
- Abd al-Qadir, humane resister: Within the horrific bloodshed of the 1830 French invasion of Algeria, learn about the scholarly and deeply religious leader of the war of opposition, Abd al-Qadir, whose extraordinary, compassionate treatment of his Christian opponents stands as a model of equitable leadership for any century.
Compelling Perspectives on a Pivotal Region
A spellbinding lecturer, Mr. Gearon brings to the course deep insights into the Middle East shaped by his extensive personal experience in the region. He has a talent for demonstrating how history doesn’t stop, showing you how events such as the founding of the Persian Safavid Dynasty and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire continue to reverberate in our contemporary world. Throughout the course, he brings visual richness to the unfolding events through vivid maps, artworks, photographs, and manuscripts.
The 36 thrilling segments of Turning Points in Middle Eastern History bring to vibrant life the human strivings, the conflicts, the triumphs, and the catastrophes that forged this extraordinary region, in a dramatic continuum from the 7th century to the 21st. Take this chance to probe beneath the surface of the magnificent and complex civilizations of the Middle East, a critical part of the world whose fortunes directly affect us all.
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