50 episodes

The ultimate history podcast with Ali A. Olomi. Each season consists of ten episodes covering a wide range of subjects from the Middle East, Islam, the Mediterranean, Religious history of Christianity and Judaism, South Asia, Afghanistan, Africa, Rome, Ancient Persia and much more.

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    • Society & Culture

The ultimate history podcast with Ali A. Olomi. Each season consists of ten episodes covering a wide range of subjects from the Middle East, Islam, the Mediterranean, Religious history of Christianity and Judaism, South Asia, Afghanistan, Africa, Rome, Ancient Persia and much more.

    Gender and Sexuality in Islam

    Gender and Sexuality in Islam

    The theme for season 5 is gender and sexuality in Islam. In our first episode we provide the framework for understanding gender, sex, and sexuality in the Islamic world. We discuss three influences on the framework: cultural beliefs, the Qur'an, and the philosophical tradition of the high Abbasid period. We discuss how Muhammad strove to reform Arabian tribal society and the ways in which the Qu'ran reflects this mission as well as codifies certain social differences and structures. We talk about the vast cultural variations and how the process of Islamizing a region included adopting some cultural norms. We then discuss the Hellenic concept of the humors and their adoption into Islam and relation to understanding gender and sexuality. Finally we bring it all together to help us understand the way in which Islam views gender, sex, and sexuality on a fluid spectrum that allows for variation. This episode sets up the framework for our future conversations.

    • 22 min
    Special: Islamophobia

    Special: Islamophobia

    In this special we cover the history of Islamophobia and the way it intersects with other forms of bigotry like antisemitism and its connection with Orientalism. We try to put the tragedy of the Christchuch, New Zealand shooting into a broader context by examining the discourse on Muslims. We start by examining Orientalism and its imagining of the Middle East and the racialization of Europeans and Semites. We explore how this forms the backdrop of the imagined community of the nation state as well as the civilizing mission of colonialism. We then discuss how some of this was deployed in the rise of contemporary Islamophobia which we link to the Cold War. We talk about the framework of "good Muslims, bad Muslims" and the massive industry that produces and profits from Islamophobia.

    • 20 min
    Byzantines, Sassanians, and Holy Emperors

    Byzantines, Sassanians, and Holy Emperors

    In our final episode of the season, we wrap up our theme of Empires of Faith. We start out with some shout outs and then present a brief timeline of the Roman and Byzantine Empire. We discuss the Romanization of Christianity and the Christianization of the Roman Empire. We talk about Constantine with the imperial intervention into theology through the Council of Nicea. We examine how the intersection of empire and religion produces an orthodoxy enforced by force. We link this to the transformation of the "martyr" from one who faces violence to soldiers to carry out violence. We explore the relationship between orthodoxy, heresy, and violence in the creation of an imperial religious identity. When then discuss the emergence of the Sassanian Empire and the establishment of Zoroastrianism as the official religion of the empire. We mention Mani and Manichaeism briefly before focusing on the relationship between the monarchy and the Zoroastrian clergy in producing legitimacy. Finally we explore how the imperial orthodoxy at the heart of both the Byzantine Empire and Sassanian Empire is deployed in the territorial Byzantine-Sassanid War.

    • 52 min
    Judaism, Christianity, and Messianic Kings

    Judaism, Christianity, and Messianic Kings

    In this episode we explore the history of Israelite religion under Hellenism and the Roman empire. We examine the ways in which Judeans responded to, absorbed, and resisted Hellenic culture resulting in messianic movements, the Sadducee sect, Pharisee sect, and Essene sect. We investigate the cosmopolitan culture of Judea under the Seleucid Empire and later the Roman Empire. We examine the changing relationship of various Israelite groups to the Temple and with their imperial overlords. We discuss the cultural milieu from which the Jesus movement emerges. Then we link the early followers of Christ to the broader debates and movements in Jerusalem. This leads us to examine the competing ideas of messianism in Judaism and the intervention of Paul. Finally we discuss the partition and separation of the Jesus movement and the Roman influence on conceptions of Late Antique religion. From this we see the use of heresy and orthodoxy in the division of Christianity from Rabbinic Judaism.

    • 46 min
    The Roman Empire & The Cult of the Emperor

    The Roman Empire & The Cult of the Emperor

    In this episode we explore Roman religion and how it was shaped by the empire. We begin with a brief chronology of Roman history from its early days through the republic until the empire. We sketch out the structure of Roman society and some of the features of it's politics. We spend the bulk of our time examining Roman religion, cults, and the way of the ancestors. We discuss the gods, the integration of foreign gods, the religious function of the state, and the priestly class. We talk about auguries and divining the will of the gods. Finally we discuss the cult of the emperor, its clash with mystery religions, and the consequences for the imperial project of Rome.

    • 54 min
    The Greeks and the Philosopher Kings

    The Greeks and the Philosopher Kings

    This episode provides a brief sketch of the history of the Greeks. We start with a short discussion on the Minoans and the Mycenaean invasion. We talk about the emergence of a common culture within Homer's epic of the Iliad and Odyssey while noting that "Greek" was a single, unified people, but rather autonomous and warring city-states that shared some common characteristics. We compare and contrast Spartan and Athenian society and trace the rise of democracy. We then explore the Greco-Persian wars, linking with our last episode on the Achaemenid Empire. We discuss the consequences of the Persian invasion and the conditions for the rise of the pan-Hellenic empire of Alexander the Great. We discuss the philosophical underpinnings of the empire from Socrates and Plato to Aristotle and dissect Hellenism as a culture produced from the dialogical process of Greeks encountering local cultures. We conclude with a brief exploration of Greco-Buddhist culture and the break up of the Hellenic Empire.

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

HamidMKhan ,

Fantastic

Ali does an incredible job at presenting history in both a compelling way but also in a humorous fashion. Even as a professor of Islamic Law, I have to confess that Ali’s cogency and historical insights have furthered my thinking on a number of topics. Bravo and keep up the stellar work.

Hamid M. Khan

DrewVK ,

An Essential History Podcast

Ali's podcast is essential for understanding the historical context of Islam, both the religion and the civilization it nurtured. He makes complex ideas simple and brings life to people too easily pigeon-holed in the past. From his narrative approach in Season One to his deep dives in later seasons, you'll find yourself learning and, more importantly, appreciating a culture you might have stereotyped or overlooked.

Christopher Ch. ,

Fantastic Podcast

I really did enjoy this podcast and would rate it a 10/10. I jumped right into the the episode of Judaism, Christianity, and Messianic Kings. I really enjoy how Ali brings very familiar and general ideas that common people have of a culture, in this case was the Greeks and their gymnasiums, and builds on it to bring new ideas of how to tell if one is Hellenistic or not. It made me feel involved and brings a clearer understanding of his points, due to him building off that familiarity a casual listener like myself would have.

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