Do Muslim historians teach Roman history?

Just a question that Ive always wanted to ask. Considering that as historians, they would likely have given lectures about Western history and Eastern History in Universities and Colleges. If so, what do they say when it comes to times of Jesus?


I do not think I can be much of a help on this topic but one thing I know of is that anything being thought about the Messiah Jesus Peace be upon Him is being thought from the Quran and the authenticated Hadits.

This goes the same with all the Prophets Peace be Upon Them.

Not much help you are right. :smiley:

However, I suppose this means you are not aware of any say Sunni historians who teach Roman history?


By teaching the Roman History Of the Messiah Peace Be Upon Him That would mean teaching the Catholic Theology about the Prophets Of Allah in general.

The Prophets are not just historical figures for us, they are an important aspect in faith for Muslims.

Please excuse my lack of knowledge :).

First, welcome here! We’re happy to have more Muslims come and share their points of view.

This is a good question Gunner and I would be interested to see you consider it.

For example: when Christians study early Islamic theology we’ll take into consideration who Muhammad was, what he taught, who Abu Bakr was, and what happened next.

I don’t believe that Muslims give the same effort when it comes to 1st and 2nd Century Jesus and His followers.

Here’s a good starting point if you’re interested.

Who’s Peter and what did he teach about Jesus?

Who’s James and what did he teach about Jesus?

Who’s John and what did he teach about Jesus?

Who are Polycarp and Ignatius and did they know Peter and John?

Who’s Clement of Rome and did he know Peter?

What did they all believe about Jesus? Is it anything like what you believe?

What did Josephus teach about 1st Century Judaism? What did Josephus and Tertullian (non Christians) teach about Jesus, John the Baptist and James?

Hello Dronald.
I am indeed interested in expanding my knowledge and to learn more about the point of view of others.
could you post links please?

They should, given they’re the ones to brought the Roman Empire to an end. No small feat.

If we’re honest, most Christians don’t put enough effort into studying the Prophet Muhammad ʿalayhi as-salām, or his life and times either never mind later figures in Islamic history. Lack of understanding of even the basics is very much a two way street when it comes to the average Christian or Muslim. Frankly I’ve always thought that’s one of the biggest problems with interfaith relations among average Joes (and frankly from my POV as a historian, a lack of understanding history is not limited to religion either among the general population.)

Depends on how you’re defining “Roman Empire”. :wink:

There’s no question about it. Roman Empire is Roman Empire, and even after the final division, both Empires were still the Roman Empire till they ended. The term “Byzantine Empire” came after the fact, but the Eastern Empire never called itself that. It was always the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire ended with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

It is an interesting Question and the further question would be what are we looking for in the answer are we asking if they taught Christian Views/Doctrine?

Any History Taught is always influenced by the current Knowledge Gained. You will see that as a likely, if you see how teaching of history has changed just over the last couple of hundred years.

The same question then could be asked About early Christianity, what did they start teaching as to History did they teach Jewish Doctrine and what Influence Did Christ Give to how that History was Taught.

Regards Tony


Tacitus, a non Christian historian who lived in the first Century writes:* Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome"*

Josephus a Jewish (non Christian) historian who lived in the first Century writes: About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.

Mara Bar-Serapion written around 73ad:

What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished.

Notice how all of the first Century, non-Christian writers believed that Jesus died on the cross? This has come to be an accepted fact. All Scholars who accept the existence of Jesus as true (which is the majority) accept that the one thing we can be sure about is that he died on the cross; something that Muslims reject.





Just wiki away my friend. Lots to learn about early Christianity. In fact Josephus writes about James as well!

"But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned."

The thing that I want to say to you Gunner, is that you will find nothing Islamic in early history of Jesus and His Disciples.

Keep in mind that Muslims think of everything before Muhammad as the “Jahiliyya” or “time of ignorance.” Therefore it doesn’t merit study. Sure, they’re concerned a bit with Jewish figures from the OT, but that’s about it. They really don’t go deeply into Jewish prophets’ teachings, etc. nor are they concerned with the history of Israel (for current political reasons). (Contrast that with Israelis, who are experts in virtually every area of Islamic history.) Also, although, yes, the Qur’an tells people to honor learning, etc., the hadith explicitly tell people that this means study of religious topics–not secular topics.

Having said that, older Muslim historians had a passing interest–See vol. 1 of Tabari’s history (10th c.), for example. But here I suspect it was simply an urge to have completion–start with Adam and go to the present. Very little–1-2%–of his history deals with pre-Islamic history.

Since I’m a member of the American Historical Association, I’ll post this question on their forum bulletin board, see what pops up, and report back. I strongly suspect that Muslims aren’t interested in teaching about history before Muhammad. As new professors, they may be forced to teach “Western Civilization,” but I bet that’s probably the extent of it.

But there are, of course, secular Muslims who are, in fact, very interested in ancient history–for example Egyptians in ancient Egypt, Iraqis interested in Mesopotamia, etc. So Muslims are often concerned with the pre-Islamic histories of their own countries.

An even better example is Salima Ikram, a Pakistani with degrees from Bryn Mawr and Cambridge. She teaches at the American U. in Cairo and is an expert in animal mummies. She’s one of the rare exceptions–interested in pre-Islamic history of a country other than her own. I don’t want to classify her religiously because I don’t know her, but just from her web site and her TV appearances, she’s clearly not a conservative Muslim.

Interesting stuff. Thanks.


Where are you?

By the way, Im not sure you understood what I was asking. I meant history of the Romans. Unless you believe the Catholic Church and Christian believers were Roman pagans?


It’s taken a few days for my post to hit the American Hist. Assoc. forum, but it’s up, and so far one reply from a graduate student at Yale. I’ll wait a week or so to compile results–although if my original hypothesis is correct, not many will reply.

Back to the original question: In courses I personally have taken in Roman history, Jesus was never even mentioned. Christianity, yes, when it comes into play with Constantine and beyond; but in the early 1st century it’s simply not an issue. As you probably know, besides a passing reference in Josephus, Christians were mentioned only by Tacitus and Pliny–about a sentence each. They simply didn’t register. Of course for people concerned with Church history and Biblical studies, there are libraries about each. But in terms of Roman history in general, it simply wouldn’t come up.

Not surprising actually. Academically early Christianity was a fringe movement that was primarily practiced by people who were very much common people. I mean Jesus himself was a carpenter from Nazareth. He didn’t really register on the world stage at the time and indeed there is little that survives about him or his immediate followers from a general historical perspective outside the Bible. Obviously from a religious perspective Christ and his apostles were major players and world changers as their influence later proved to be when it started spread and eventually led up to Constantine, but historically they’re simply not talked about because there’s so little to talk about because so little survived. Christ was not say Mohammad who was a temporal merchant and leader who conquered cities and of whom very detailed records were kept.

Although, considering as you say; the timeframe and Jesus’s lowly status, it’s actually quite amazing how much he was written about. Also James and John the Baptist. It’s really remarkable.

I suppose Islamic believers and thus their academics have very little if not. passing interest with the Romans till Islamic military strength gained traction perhaps.


I think a better question would be, do Muslim historians teach world history? Or even better yet do Arab scholars teach world history?
Then you would have to continue to take away the modifiers and look at individual countries since each of the Arab countries has varying degrees of liberty regarding what they can teach and what their students are taught.
I cannot speak about what students in Arab universities are taught. How many Muslims study in the United States and learn Western history? How many Arabs, even within their own countries are taught world history by Westerners? How would I know any of this if I had not myself taught world history to elementary school students in an Arab country?
The private school at which I taught used an American curriculum. Other schools used a British or even an Australian curriculum. I cannot speak to what those students learned in terms of world history. I do know that not only did the elementary school students receive an overview of world history that included Western Europe as well as North and South America, they also received a more concentrated Arab social studies. Most subjects were taught in English. Arab Social Studies and Islamic religion were taught in Arabic.
At the elementary and secondary school level, students in Middle Eastern countries may learn World history which includes the study of Western Europe as well as Africa and Asia. Regional or Arab Social Studies is also included in the curriculum, just as American students would learn American history and development.

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