This semester is my second of assigning Nasir-i Khusraw's Book of Travels
to my students in HIS 339: The Central Islamic Lands, 500-1700. The book is a good chance to talk about Perso-Islamic culture, Isma'ili Shi'ism, the Fatimids, and simply to read an example of the medieval Middle East's rich travel literature. Students then write an essay on one of three questions. Here are the ones I've used:
what ways is Nasir-i Khusraw’s travelogue influenced by his identity as a
philosophically inclined Persian convert to Isma’ili Shi’ism?
are the ways in which Islam is physically manifested in the places Nasir-i
did Middle Eastern rulers use ritual and monumental building to justify their
do Nasir-i Khusraw and others observe and interact with their natural
environment, including other organisms?
does legend influence the understanding of place in Nasir-i Khusraw’s travelogue?