Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.32
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 72%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $3.32   
  • New (13) from $6.89   
  • Used (5) from $3.32   


Opening with a lucid overview of the rise and spread of Islam, from the seventh to the twenty-first century, this Very Short Introduction introduces the story of Islamic history, charting the evolution of what was originally a small, localized community of believers into an international religion with over a billion adherents. The book examines how Islam rose from the obscurity of seventh-century Arabia to the forefront of modern global concerns, and it highlights how we know what we claim to know about Islam's rise and development. Historian Adam J. Silverstein also discusses the peoples--Arabs, Persians, and Turks--who shaped Islamic history, and sheds light on three representative institutions--the mosque, jihad, and the caliphate--that highlight Islam's diversity over time. Finally, the book analyzes the roles that Islamic history has played in both religious and political contexts, while stressing the unique status that history enjoys among Muslims, especially compared to its lowly place in Western societies where history is often seen as little more than something that is not to be repeated.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Silverstein is brief and brilliant...This short book has wonderful cultural-historical insights [on] every page--and suddenly Islamic history becomes, well, really interesting, understandable, related to Western history--and the present that much more explicable. The book is clear, witty, wise, and wonderful--read it." --School Library Journal Online

"Silverstein deserves praise for his successful effort in offering a readable and concise Islamic history. It will be instructive to curious students of any faith. His book is a credit to the outstanding Oxford series of 'Very Short Introductions.'" --Saudi Gazette

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199545728
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 362,689
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Adam J. Silverstein is University Research Lecturer in Near and Middle Eastern Studies and Fellow of The Queen's College, University of Oxford.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. The story of Islamic history
2. Peoples and cultures
3. Institutions
4. The sources
5. Competing approaches
6. Religious significance
7. Political significance
Further reading

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good History Book

    The predominantly Islamic lands and cultures have gained a lot of prominence in public consciousness in the West over the last ten years. Consequently there have been an untold number of books and articles published with the aim to explain Islamic history and hopefully elucidate how that history bears on the recent geopolitical events. Even thought this very short introduction also addresses those concerns, it does so in a very limited way in the last brief chapter. The primary purpose of the book, however, is to present Islamic History in its own right as a very fascinating and vast subject in its own right.

    Islam is a religion that originated in 7th century Arabian Peninsula. In many respects Islam is unique in that it very closely intertwines the politics and religion, and hence it makes much more sense to talk about Islamic History than for instance Buddhist history or even Christian history. The author of this book does not endorse the idea that there is no "separation of church and state" in Islam, and he provides ample historical evidence to support that view. However, it is hard to argue that Islam is not an all-encompassing religious system that aims to shape the society in all of its aspects. For centuries caliphs/imams have served as both heads of state and the principle religious authorities. In fact most of the divisions in Islam can be traced to various historic divisions based on who was thought to poses the rightful claims to this religious/political authority. There are hardly any doctrinal differences between Sunnis and Shias for instance.

    The book strikes the right tone between being unduly politically correct at one extreme, and having a completely uncritical negative knee-jerk reaction to everything that has to do with Islam. Unfortunately these two extreme viewpoints have been dominant in the media, and in the case of the former have even entered the academic discussions of Islam. Silverstein rejects this notion that Islam and Islamic history should be viewed uncritically, and succeeds in providing a highly plausible and interesting view of this subject. Some of the ideas presented in the book are very intriguing (like the observation that the use of camels was crucial for the early Islamic expansion) and will probably make you think. In the end, whether you are interested in Islam, history or are just a generally curious person, you will enjoy reading this very well written short book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)