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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Cosmopolitan Medieval Arabic World by Universiteit Leiden

99 ratings
24 reviews

About the Course

Did you know that Arabic was for centuries the lingua franca in an area stretching from the south of Spain to the Chinese border? Did you know that the Middle East under Muslim rule in those days was the world’s beating heart of trade, but also of science and scholarship? Did you know that Islam in its formative period was heavily influenced by existing cultures in the region, like Indian, Greek, Persian and Byzantine culture? Did you know that for many centuries after the establishment of the Muslim Empire the majority of the population remained largely Christian and Jewish? Did you know that they held a protected status in Islamic law? Did you know that this generally open-minded, curious and open society stimulated many great innovations and inventions? Did you know that European scholarship in the Renaissance leaned heavily on the texts and inventions from the Middle East which were the outcome of this sophisticated advanced society? In this course we will focus on the fascinating history of the Arabic Medieval World. We will take you on a journey through the Middle Ages starting off in eighth-century Baghdad. Along the old pilgrim trails we will go to places like Mecca, Jerusalem and Najaf. We will show you the impressive markets of places like Cairo and Samarkand. However we will not hide the dark sides of society either, by introducing you to the flourishing widespread slave trade. We will visit the Abbasid court, the Harem of the caliph, and the palace of the Mamluk Sultan. We will show you some beautiful medieval manuscripts, that live on as the silent witnesses of the impressive achievements of scientists and medical doctors of this forgotten era. All along we will present you with historiographical debates and dilemma’s. Reflecting on the way we look at and interpret history. And while taking you on this journey, we will travel back and forth in time explaining to you how events of the past affected and shaped the world as we know it today. Welcome to the Cosmopolitan Medieval Arabic World! Enroll now and follow this course for free....

Top reviews


Dec 11, 2019

Thank you for this beautiful course ! I learned a lot and most important, as a European, this course changed my vision of the Islamic world. This course opens my mind. Thank you !


Jan 31, 2019

Great course with a wide array of materials that allowed me to understand better the important of Arab influence in Europe and worldwide.

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1 - 24 of 24 Reviews for The Cosmopolitan Medieval Arabic World

By René V

Jan 07, 2019

I learned much about the islamic world and the reasons for the rise of Islam as a word religion. Many of my stereotypes were shattered e.g. about harems and slavery. The many linked scientific texts helped me understand about core concepts of this hegemony.

One possible addendum could be a general outlook on the further fate of the Arabic world after the time period that was discussed in the course. As it stands, I found the course to end somewhat sudden.

By Charles

Jun 20, 2019

Excellent course, I greatly appreciate the unbiased viewpoint, I really can't thank you enough. I took this course as a means of knowing what questions to ask, rather than to answer preexisting questions. Thank you very much again, and I look forward to taking more courses.

By Miguel I

Jan 31, 2019

Great course with a wide array of materials that allowed me to understand better the important of Arab influence in Europe and worldwide.

By Sophia M

Jan 30, 2019

I love this class! It gives me easy access to a wealth of information I wasn't taught in school, and it's the perfect pacing for me.

By Joy S

Feb 12, 2019

Enjoyable, unique, kind of fun.

By Wafaa A

Jan 01, 2019

Well structured course, elaborate in terms of areas covered and exercises. But, I think some of exercises needed more time (the two about Orientalism and Slavery) as both the topics were very important and required more research and reading. Instructors presented the materials in an eloquent and clear manner. What I liked the most was instructor's speaking at the right pace, and this was very convenient to me as a non-native English speaker. I learned a lot, so thank you very much! and I will definitely try to take future courses from your university.

By Beatriz m D

Aug 22, 2019

It has been a wonderful,excellent course.I have been able to do it without haste,due to the flexibility of Coursera.I recognize that you have known me a titlle.There are few courses in my country,I hope that one dayI will take a course on Al Ándalus.See you soon. Espero que entiendan el castellano,mis mas sinceras gracias a la profesora Petra,y a todos los que colaboraron para hacer este curso.

By christine

Aug 22, 2019

This course is very informative, showing the ancient Arab world from many angles.The teachers' way of giving lectures was lively and interesting, which made the course infinitely charming. I quickly finished all the courses.It's so interesting.This course has also increased my desire to know more about the Arab world, which I plan to explore further in the future.Thank you for teaching.

By Peter B

Dec 30, 2018

A very nice introduction to the "islamic" civilization in the Middle Ages by prof. Petra Sijpesteijn and her team! It´s especially interesting to see how interconnected islamic and European societies were during that time period. And it makes you think how and why the islamic "Other" has been systematically marginalized by many European narratives in the last centuries...

By Abdelhadi S

Jan 04, 2019

It is an excellent course. I wish some of the material were more diverse to cover a wider range of subjects such as the Islamic law, philosophy, social life, schools of thought. I recognize that the information presented in the course are more than enough for someone who had had just dim ideas about The Cosmopolitan Medieval Arabic World

By Pablo S S

Jul 20, 2019

Beautiful, beautiful course on the Medieval Arabic World. I especially enjoyed the lectures on Orientalism and all the information on the history of medicine. Proud to be a Leiden alumnus and to see the university sharing knowledge, freely and widely, across the Internet. Thank you!

By Didier G

Dec 11, 2019

Thank you for this beautiful course ! I learned a lot and most important, as a European, this course changed my vision of the Islamic world. This course opens my mind. Thank you !

By Michael G

Mar 12, 2019

a fascinating study of an understudied topic in western classrooms. I very much enjoyed it!

By Georgios C

Feb 17, 2020

Fascinating and good structured course, in the tradition of the Great European Orientalists

By Lakatos A

Oct 10, 2019

I liked this course a lot. I enjoyed the energy investment of the mentors in the videos.

By Bushra N

Jan 15, 2020

The course is elaborative and the teachers who taught are up-to the mark of excellence.

By Sandra A F D

Mar 20, 2019

Excelente ! El material de lectura tendría que contar con la opción en castellano

By Jennifer

Jan 09, 2019

This class was very eye opening. Probablly one of the best mooc's I have taken

By Paccelli J M Z

Jan 04, 2019

Um curso excelente e completo sobre o mundo árabe medieval! Recomendo a todos!

By C.Winkel

Dec 25, 2018

Great and easy course with good material. Please more about topics like that!

By Mohamed E

Dec 12, 2018

It is really amazing and fruitful.

By Camila F

Jan 18, 2019

I really enjoyed it.

By franisco v r

Feb 07, 2020


By Mohamed E H

Dec 26, 2018

i love you