August 07, 2009

Saliba, George
[ASCM V2008] Contemporary Islamic Civilization and [ASCM V2003] Introduction to Islamic Civilization

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

First off, I think professor Saliba is one of the most talented professors I came across at Columbia. Actually, he's one of those professors that will have a life-long effect on the way you think of the Middle East. I took both his classes and I admit that I learned much more in the Intro to Islamic Civilization course. However, as a student of Arab descent, when I took his contemporary Islamic Civilization class, I didn't learn much. Not that Saliba doesn't introduce interesting material, but his contemporary course is very focused on Arab heritage and culture. If you're an Arab student, it almost feels like your listening to your grandma in the Middle East talk about the good ole' days of Beirut or Cairo. I personally thought the contemporary course hardly emphasized anything relating to Islam; it was a great overview of secular Arab culture. In other words, you won't learn much about terrorist groups or their origins or any of the modern Islamic extremism.

Saliba is actually a very funny man, but you will only understand his humor if you're of Arab descent. Believe me when I say this, but he will remind you of your grandparents back in the Middle East.

Last word of advice, don't take the contemporary class if you're of Arab descent or very familiar with Arab culture/ heritage because you won't learn much. It's definitely an easy A class if you're familiar with Arab culture. For the intro class, you will actually need to do some extra work regardless of your familiarity with Islam or Muslim heritage.

Workload:

Very light for the contemporary.. Need to study the lectures well for the intro.