The History of Islam in South Asia

Professor Farina Mir’s course explores the history of Muslim communities and institutions in South Asia. The course intends to  introduce students to the broad historical currents of the expansion of Islam in the Indian subcontinent, the nature of Muslim political authority, the interaction between religious communities, Islamic aesthetics and contributions to material culture, the varied engagements and reactions of Muslims to colonial rule, the partition of British India and the creation of Pakistan, and the contemporary concerns of South Asia’s Muslims.

In class on February 9th, students were learning about the Mughal period, including learning about the political consolidation of the empire, the role of women in the Mughal court, sources for Mughal history, and comparisons between the Ottoman and Safavid empires. Students were able to view examples of the Charbagh layout, a Persian-style garden layout, brought to India by the first Mughal emperor, Babur. The digital aspect of this course allows University of Michigan students to connect with students at Rutgers University. Professor Mir engages with her students at the University of Michigan in person on a weekly basis, and travels to Rutgers several times a semester to foster connections with her other students.

The students at Rutgers connect via a television screen and camera at one side of the room. While sitting in the lecture, it’s very easy to forget the technological aspect of the class; it just feels like a regular lecture. DISC courses like “The History of Islam” in South Asia offer a unique opportunity to build connections with students across the Big Ten, through unobtrusive technology.