Islam and Empire (HISM024)

Lecturer(s)Dr Justin Jones
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
Duration of ModuleOne term (11 weeks)
Total Student Study Time300 hours including 11 x 2 hour seminars and 276 hours independent study

Module aims

At the peak of the era of European Imperialism, a majority of the world's Muslims were subject to European colonial powers. How did these imperial powers understand Islam, and conversely, how did Muslims come to understand and respond to this predicament? This course seeks to present the case that Muslim societies and Islam as a religion itself, far from remaining unchanged, were profoundly and structurally altered by the long experience of perceived domination by a European 'Other'. The course encourages students to consider the massive intellectual and political changes engrained in the Muslim world during this period, and their ramifications in contemporary times. While individual seminars will focus on particular regions, especially South Asia and North Africa, the course will speak in global terms through the identification of particular case studies across different areas and time periods.

Intended learning outcomes

Module-specific skills

1. Demonstrate an understanding of key themes and issues in the history of twentieth century African society, culture and politics.
2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical and theoretical debates in the various subject areas studied.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and significance of human rights to twentieth century Africa.
4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically.
5. Demonstrate an ability to evaluate different disciplinary perspectives on human rights and African history.
6. Propose and begin work on a dissertation on some aspect of this subject if they so choose.

Discipline-specific skills

7. Analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
8. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
9. Critically understand key historical concepts and debates.
10. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues.

Personal and key skills

11. Demonstrate capacity for independent critical study and thought.
12. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of online searching aids).
13. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
14. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).
15. Analyse, summarise, and organise material to produce a coherent and cogent argument, within specific deadlines.

Learning and teaching methods

The module is taught through weekly two-hour seminars on a set theme. Students will be required to undertake preparatory reading of primary and secondary materials. Group and/or individual presentations will serve as the basis for discussion guided by the module tutor(s). Essays will be assigned, discussed and returned in individual tutorials. The module syllabus each year will be student-led, selecting topics from the list as available each year according to the composition of the teaching team.


One essay of 5000 words and one essay of 3000 words based on primary sources.


First essay of 5000 words worth 62% of the overall module mark and second essay of 3000 words worth 38% of the overall module mark.

Syllabus plan


1) A 'clash of civilisations'? Islam and the West in contact.
2) Mad mystics and angry Arabs: Islam in the Western mind.
3) Meetings of minds: travel, encounter and globalisation.
4) Sultans and shaikhs: implementing Muslim kingship.
5) A single shari'a? Western and Islamic Law in contact.
6) From 'Abduh to Aligarh: Muslim modernism in colonial settings.
7) A war of defence: jihad through Western and Muslim eyes.
8) A world community: pan-Islam and Islamic universalisms.
9) An ambivalent relationship? Islam and secular nationalism.
10) Political Islam in the late-colonial world.
11) Conclusions: from colonialism to post-colonialism.

Indicative basic reading list

Michael Anderson, 'Islamic law and colonial encounter in British India,' in David Arnold and Peter Robb eds., Institutions and ideologies: a South Asia reader (London, 1993)
Edmund Burke, 'Pan-Islam and Moroccan resistance to French colonial penetration, 1900-1912,' The Journal of African History (13, 1, 1972).
Ian Buruma, Occidentalism: a short history of anti-Westernism (London, 2004)
Julia A. Clancy-Smith, Rebel and saint: Muslim notables, populist protest, colonial encounters: Algeria and Tunisia, 1800-1904 (Berkeley, 1997)
Juan R.I. Cole, Colonialism and revolution in the Middle East: social and cultural origins of Egypt's 'Urabi movement (Princeton, 1992)
Juan R.I Cole, 'Invisible Occidentalism: eighteenth century Indo-Persian constructions of the West,' Iranian Studies (25, 3-4, 1992)
John Darwin, 'An undeclared empire: the British in the Middle East, 1918-1939,' JICH (27, 2, 1999)
Toby Dodge, Inventing Iraq: the failure of nation building and a history denied (New York, 2003)
D.K. Fieldhouse, Western imperialism in the Middle East, 1914-1958 (Oxford, 2006)
Christopher Harrison, France and Islam in West Africa, 1860-1960 (Cambridge, 1988)
Marshall Hodgson, Islam and world history (Cambridge, 2004)
Peter Holt, The Mahdist state in the Sudan, 1881-1898: a study of its origins, development and overthrow (New York, 1977)
Albert Hourani, Arabic thought in the liberal age, 1798-1939 (London, 1962)
Ayesha Jalal, Partisans of Allah: jihad in South Asia (forthcoming, 2008)
Nikki Keddie, 'The revolt of Islam, 1700-1993: comparative conditions and relations to imperialism,' in Journal of Comparative History (36, 3, 1994)
Nikki Keddie, An Islamic response to Imperialism: political and religious writings of Sayyid Jamal al-Din "al-Afghani" (Berkeley, 1983)
Elie Kedourie, England and the Middle East: the destruction of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1987)
Shahin Kuli Khan Khattak, Islam and the Victorians: nineteenth century perceptions of Muslim practices and beliefs (London, 2007)
Malcolm Kerr, Islamic reform: the political and legal theories of Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida (Berkeley, 1966)
Scott Kugle, 'Framed, blamed and renamed: the recasting of Islamic jurisprudence in colonial South Asia,' Modern Asian Studies (35, 2, 2001)
Charles Kurzman ed, Modernist Islam: a sourcebook (New York, 2002)
Jacob Landau, The politics of pan-Islam: ideology and organisation (Oxford, 1994)
Gerald Maclean, Looking East: English writing and the Ottoman Empire before 1800
Rudolph Peters, Islam and colonialism: the doctrine of jihad in modern history (The Hague, 1979)
Rudolph Peters, Jihad in classical and modern Islam: a reader (Princeton, 1996)
James Piscatori, Islam in a world of nation states (Cambridge, 1991)
Francis Robinson, Islam, South Asia and the West (New Delhi, 2007)
William Roff, The origins of Malay nationalism (New Haven, 1967)
Edward Said, Orientalism (London, 1978)
Said Samatar, In the shadow of conquest: Islam in colonial northeast Africa (New Jersey, 1992)
S.A.I. Tirmizi, Autobiography of Lutfullah: an Indian's perceptions of the West (Delhi, 1985)
Muhammad Sani Umar, Islam and colonialism: intellectual responses of the Muslims of northern Nigeria to British colonial rule (Leiden, 2006)
W. Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian encounters: perceptions and misperceptions (London, 1988)

Other resources:

Any other primary source material as provided.