Classical Islam

Classical Islam

by G. E. Von Grunebaum, Gustave E. Von Grunebaum
     
 

In a book written with the poignancy and beauty appropriate to its subject matter, the author opens by reminding us that "the essence of a society is in a sense identical with its history." Classical Islam also serves as a reminder that in the case of Islam, despite its triumphs on the fields of battle, telling its history is the only way open to

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Overview

In a book written with the poignancy and beauty appropriate to its subject matter, the author opens by reminding us that "the essence of a society is in a sense identical with its history." Classical Islam also serves as a reminder that in the case of Islam, despite its triumphs on the fields of battle, telling its history is the only way open to us to render that essence accessible and show it from all sides. The work offers a grand narrative of a faith that offers an interpretation of the world, a way of life, and a style of thinking, that goes far beyond institutional or political supports. The relevance of this historical perspective is beyond dispute.

The period from 610 A.D. when Muhammad received his "call" until the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 is known as the classical period of Islam. This was the period of the great expansion of Islam both as a political structure and as a religious and intellectual community. It established the base for the development of the high Islamic civilization of North Africa, the Near East, Persia, and India, as well as further expansion of the Islamic religious and intellectual community throughout the world. This book presents an authoritative history of the period written by one of the world's leading experts on the subject.

Classical Islam examines the relationships, both cultural and political, between the Islamic world and the Mediterranean countries and India and elaborates on the economic, social, and intellectual factors and forces that shaped the Muslim world and molded its interactions with "infidels." The work is written in a clear and direct narrative form, emphasizing simultaneously the major intellectual trends and the political events and tendencies of the formative period in Islamic history that still resonates today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This study of the history of Islam to the extinction of the ‘Abbsid Caliphate by the Mongols, first published by Professor von Grunebaum in German in 1963, should find many readers. As one of the very few books which offer a concise and scholarly conspectus of the first centuries of Islamic history, it will undoubtedly appeal and be of value to those who are beginning work in this field. It may be even more rewarding to those who already have some backround of knowledge, and can thereby appreciate the interpretative insights in which it abounds.” —P. M. Holt, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London “A translation of the late G. E. von Grunebaum’s work Islam in Seiner klassischen Eposhe, published by the Artemis Verlag, Zuerich, 1966… [A] useful addition is the extensive bibliography of items mostly in English.” —James A. Bellamy, Journal of the American Oriental Society “Neither the author nor the book under review needs an introduction for the readers of this journal. Gustave von Grunebaum was—or should we rather say, is—the doyen of the “European” Islamists, his classical publications are available in German. His Studien zun Kulturbild und Selbsverständnis des Islams (artemis Verlag, 1969) is a special gift to the German reader, and the German original of Classical Islam has been in use as a textbook for a protracted period… I purposefully deferred the writing of this review, in order to find out how American students fare with this book. According to what I have heard from them they would subscribe to the author’s judgment: “By her translation Mrs. Watson has somehow lightened the sternness of the original”, I mean the readers have found that the English version of the book makes easy reading… The illustrations are judiciously chosen and enhance the gracefulness of the book. The bibliography, partly provided by Stanford Shaw, adds much to its usefulness.” —S. D. Goitein, Die Welt des Islams “Writing a history of classical Islam is always a laborious and thankless task. The historian who undertakes to reconstruct in a narrative way any portion of early Islamic history from its vast and scattered sources exposes himself to sure attacks… A modern historian therefore has to use what R. G. Collingwood calls the “scissors-and-paste” historical method, by which the historian himself must make a personal judgment as to which reports are to be taken as true accounts of history and which are to be considered false… [I]n this book, translated from German by a capable translator, the thoughts of the author are well-expressed. This makes the book very stimulating and enjoyable to read.” —Wilson B. Bishai, The American Historical Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780202307671
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
04/15/2005
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)

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