1. What are some important reasons,according to the author, that explain the importance of Islam in the world today?
2. What type of people lived on the Arabian peninsula before the rise of Islam? Why did the city of Mecca occupy a distinctive role in Arabia? What is the “Kaaba”?
3. What is the connection between early belief in Allah and Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism?
4. Who was Mohammed and why is he considered to be “the Prophet”?
5. In what way does Islam involve a creation of a new society? How did the new belief challenge structure of Arab society?
6. What is “jihad”? Why is this concept still controversial in the 21st century?
7. What caused Mohammed to relocate to Medina? What are “hijra” and “umma” and why are they significant to the early development of Islam?
8. Has does the new Islamic state established after Mohammed’s triumphant return to Mecca differ from the Christian experience in the Roman Empire? How does a Muslim state function?
9. Describe the spread of the Islamic empire from the death of Mohammed until 900CE. What motivated Muslim expansion? What benefits did locals see in accepting Muslim control? What impact did the expansion have on other religions?
10. Describe some of the reasons why people in newly conquered territories converted to Islam. Give examples of why conversion was different in various regions and what impact the new religion had on social and cultural traditions.
11. What caused the split within Islam that developed into Sunni and Shia factions? What are some differences between the two sects?
12. Who were the Umayyad and what happened under their reign? Who were the Abbasid and what happened under their reign?
13. What is “sharia”? How does the law change or evolve over time?
14. Who are the “Sufi” and how does their interpretation of the Quran differ from other Muslims?
15. In general, what is the status of women in Islamic culture? How did this effect their social and family relationships? How did the spread of Islam create specific cultural differences based on long standing local traditions? Is the status of women different according to Sufism?

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