HIST 210 - Lecture 14 - Mohammed and the Arab Conquests

Lecture 14 - Mohammed and the Arab Conquests


In this lecture, Professor Freedman introduces Islam. He begins with a discussion of its geographical context: the dry desert lands of the Arabian peninsula. The Bedouins, or nomadic Arabs of the region, lived in a tribal society somewhat similar to the Germanic tribes discussed earlier in the course.  Their raids against the Byzantine and the Persian Empire, for lack of strong opposition, would lead to the Arab conquests. The second half of the lecture focuses on the life of Mohammed (570/580 – 632) and the early years of Islam. Mohammed’s revelation was one of the unity of God and a progressive interpretation of God’s prophets, with Mohammed as the last of these.  Early Islam was slow to differentiate itself for Christianity and Judaism, though this process accelerated after Mohammed’s flight to Medina in 622. Professor Freedman ends with a discussion of the tenets of Islam and anticipates the discussion of the Arab conquests in the next lecture.


Berkey, The Formation of Islam, pp. 61-101.

Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome, pp. 279-297.

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