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The Rise of Islam, 650-750

1. The Isolation of the Arab Peninsula

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About this Lecture


In this module, we consider the situation in the Middle East before the rise of Islam, thinking in particular about the isolation (or otherwise) of the Arabian Peninsula was in the sixth and seventh centuries CE.


In this course, Dr Amira Bennison (University of Cambridge) explores the rise and spread of Islam. The course begins by considering the situation in the Arabian Peninsula before the rise of Islam—focusing in particular on the extent to which the Arabs were connected with the outside world, as well as on the two cities of Mecca and Medina. In the third module, we think about the sources for early Islam, before moving on to consider the Muslim conquests themselves. In the fifth module, we spend some time thinking about the life of Muhammad himself, before focusing in the sixth module on the Rashidun, the 'rightly-guided' caliphs who succeeded the Prophet. In the seventh module, we think about the First Fitna, before moving on in the eighth and final module to focus on the rise of the Umayyad caliphate.


Amira K. Bennison became interested in the Middle East and North Africa while studying for her BA Hons in History and Arabic and Cambridge. After graduating, she went to live in Cairo for a year before studying for a Masters at Harvard University and a PhD at the SOAS. Her PhD, based on a year’s archival research in Morocco, looked at the impact of the French conquest of Algiers in 1830 on notions of political legitimacy in neighbouring Morocco. This involved an exploration of the significance of jihād in political legitimation in the western Maghrib published as Jihād and its Interpreatations in Pre-colonial Morocco (London: Curzon, 2002). She went on to the University of Manchester as a Leverhulme research fellow before moving to the University of Cambridge in 1997 where she is currently a senior lecturer. Her work has continued to explore political legitimacy but has expanded to encompass Islamic Spain as well as the Maghrib, and to consider urban planning, ceremonial and rhetoric alongside jihād. Dr. Bennison has appeared in several TV programmes about the history of the Middle East and North Africa including ‘Europe’s Lost Civilisation’; ‘The Thirties in Colour’ and ‘Islamic Science’. She is also a regular contributor to Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ with Melvyn Bragg.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bennison, A. (2018, August 15). The Rise of Islam, 650-750 - The Isolation of the Arab Peninsula [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bennison, A. "The Rise of Islam, 650-750 – The Isolation of the Arab Peninsula." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,