Islam: The View from the Edge

Islam: The View from the Edge

by Richard W. Bulliet
     
 

This concise revisionist account of the historical evolution of Islamic society breaks new ground by going beyond the caliph and the capital. Bulliet abandons the historian's typical habit of viewing Islamic history "from the center," that is, focusing on the rise and fall of imperial dynasties. Instead, he derives a lucid and accurate understanding of how and why

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Overview

This concise revisionist account of the historical evolution of Islamic society breaks new ground by going beyond the caliph and the capital. Bulliet abandons the historian's typical habit of viewing Islamic history "from the center," that is, focusing on the rise and fall of imperial dynasties. Instead, he derives a lucid and accurate understanding of how and why Islam became -- and continues to be -- so rooted in the social structure of the vast majority of people who lived far from the political locus and did not see the caliphate as essential in their lives.

Focusing his research on Iran, and especially the cities of Isfahan, Gorgan, and Nishapur, Bulliet presents a new and fuller consideration of religous conversion, migration and demographic trends, education and its role in defining cultural norms, and the changing functions and fortunes of cities and urban life, as well as the roots and meaning of religious authority. Islan: The View from the Edge elucidates for the first time the role and history of this complex religion in everyday life.

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Editorial Reviews

Mary Deeley
Middle East scholar and writer Richard Bulliet offers an insightful and provocative look at the historical evolution of Islamic religious authority. It is this authority that will have ultimate impact on the future of the Middle East, and yet contemporary historians have largely ignored its influence in the social structure of the people it governs. Bulliet describes how a view "from the edge" shows diverse groups of people coming together in institutional, doctrinal, and social cohesion, not because of great empires, but because of the leadership of religious scholars and moral guides. This book should be of interest to students of both religion and politics, particularly since Westerners tend to misunderstand the religious motivations behind a country's actions.
Booknews
Bulliet (history, Columbia U.) reviews the evolution of authority in the history of Islam, and contends that despite the recent successes of fundamentalist leaders, the future of Islam rests with individuals and small groups far from the power centers, who are synthesizing their faith with the modern world. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231082181
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
02/17/1994
Pages:
236
Product dimensions:
6.23(w) x 9.27(h) x 1.03(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Richard W. Bulliet is professor of history at Columbia University. A former Guggenheim fellow, he is the editor of The Columbia History of the Twentieth Century and author of The Camel and the Wheel. He is also the author of four novels of mystery and intrigue.

Columbia University Press

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