Islam in Historical Perspective  book cover
2nd Edition

Islam in Historical Perspective

ISBN 9781138193703
Published November 10, 2016 by Routledge
552 Pages

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Book Description

Islam in Historical Perspective provides readers with an introduction to Islam, Islamic history and societies with carefully selected historical and scriptural evidence that enables them to form a comprehensive and balanced vision of Islam’s rise and evolution across the centuries and up to the present day. Combining historical and chronological approaches, the book examines intellectual dialogues and socio-political struggles within the extraordinary rich Islamic tradition. Treating Islam as a social and political force, the book also addresses Muslim devotional practices, artistic creativity and the structures of everyday existence. Islam in Historical Perspective is designed to help readers to develop personal empathy for the subject by relating it to their own experiences and burning issues of today. It contains a wealth of historical anecdotes and quotations from original sources that are intended to emphasize its principal points in a memorable way.

This new edition features a thoroughly revised and updated text, new illustrations, expanded study questions and chapter summaries. 

Table of Contents



Note on Transliteration and Dates

1 Arabia: The Cradle of Islam

2 Muhammad and the Beginnings of Islam: The Making of the Muslim Community

3 After Muhammad: The Rightly Guided Caliphs and the Conquests

4 The Murder of ‘Uthman, the Fitna Wars, and the Rise and Consolidation of the Umayyad Dynasty

5 The Principal Source of Islam: The Qur’an

6 The Prophetic Hadíth and Sunna and the Emergence of the Shari‘a

7 The Problem of the Just Ruler and the First Divisions Within the Community

8 The ‘Abbásid Revolution and Beyond

9 Islamic Scholarship Under the ‘Abbásids: The Rise and Development of the Schools of Law

10 Islamic Scholarship Under the ‘Abbásids: Theological Debates and Schools of Thought

11 Twelver Shi‘ism and Zaydism

12 Shi‘ism as a Revolutionary Movement: The Isma‘ilis

13 Ascetic and Mystical Movement in Islam: Sufism

14 Intellectual Struggles in Premodern Islam: Philosophy Versus Theology

15 Transmission and Conservation of Knowledge: ‘Ulamá’ , Mádrasas, and Sufi Lodges

16 The Basic Beliefs and Practices of Islam: Islamic Life Cycle

17 Islamic Art and Religious Architecture (Mosque)

18 Women in Islamic Societies

19 Islam and the West

20 Islam in the Gunpowder Empires: The World of Islam Faces Modernity and European Colonialism

21 Renewal and Reform in Islam: The Emergence of Islamic Modernism and Reformism

22 Islam as a Political Force and Vehicle of Opposition

23 Islam Reinterpreted: Major Trends in Islamic Thought Today

24 The Ideology and Practice of Globalized Jihadism



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Alexander Knysh is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan and Academic Project Director, at St. Petersburg State University, Russian Federation.


Authoritatively written and astutely arranged, Islam in Historical Perspective provides a comprehensive, historically contextualized narrative of the development of the Islamic tradition from its origin to the present day. Erik S. Ohlander, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, USA

Praise for the first edition:

An intellectually stimulating, lucidly written work with excellent discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I look forward to assigning the second edition to my students. Dr Younus Mirza, Allegheny College, USA