|“Can Current Research Materials Be Invoked in an Undergraduate Classroom Setting? The Case For Greater Student Involvement”:|
The question of whether instructors in Islamic history should bring their current research into the undergraduate classroom can raise ambivalent feelings. Success is not guaranteed: students could find the reading and discussion of cutting-edge research arcane, especially in the pre-modern period; the materials might not have a good fit with the existing pedagogy of courses we have constructed (or inherited from others); or we may not be fully secure about our translation or presentation of novel sources. This roundtable presentation will introduce three case studies of ongoing research that I have recently integrated into my undergraduate survey courses on the history of Islamic civilization, and the reasons why I think such concerns may prove overblown.
The first source, which integrates two interconnected narratives that I translated from the third/ninth century works of Abu `Ubayd al-Qasim b. Sallam’s *Kitab al-Amwal* and al-Baladhuri’s *Futuh al-Buldan*, represent a translation of a debate among Muslim scholars of the early `Abbasid period over how to construct a proper legal category for the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It has proven illuminating for undergraduates to understand the nuances that Muslim thinkers could apply in the laws of war and diplomacy with non-Muslim powers.
The second source draws on a translation I prepared for a recent book manuscript on Sufi hagiographical works from the tenth/sixteenth century, most notably the *Tezkiretu’l-Halvetiyye* of Sinaneddin b. Yusuf. Surviving only in manuscript form, this work has been effective in getting undergraduates to think about how narratives with supernatural elements are useful for understanding the tensions that had arisen in the rapidly-expanding Ottoman Empire. They also shed light on the process of conversion and the engagement of rural people with Muslim leaders.
The final source offers translations from two manuscripts for a forthcoming book project, which I introduced to students last semester. They represent the hagiography of a local twelfth/eighteenth-century Sufi leader in Istanbul and transcriptions of the lessons that he gave to his followers. Written by a low-ranking Ottoman bureaucrat, Ibrahim el-Has, it offers extensive detail about the relationship that the shaykh had with his female followers, and also the tensions over new social practices such as coffee and tobacco. It brings the world of early twelfth/eighteenth-century Ottoman Istanbul alive for students in a way that no other source has yet succeeded in doing.