The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century, 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates

The Islamic Near East from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century, 3rd Edition

By Hugh Kennedy


356 pages

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The Prophet and the Age of Caliphates is an accessible history of the Near East from c.600-1050AD, the period in which Islamic society was formed. Beginning with the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islam, Hugh Kennedy goes on to explore the great Arab conquests of the seventh century and the golden age of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates when the world of Islam was politically and culturally far more developed than the West. The arrival of the Seljuk Turks and the period of political fragmentation which followed shattered this early unity, never to be recovered.

This new edition is fully updated to take into account the considerable amount of new research on early Islam, and contains a completely revised bibliography. Based on extensive reading of the original Arabic sources, Kennedy breaks away from the Orientalist tradition of seeing early Islamic history as a series of ephemeral rulers and pointless battles by drawing attention to underlying long term social and economic processes.

The Prophet and the Age of Caliphates deals with issues of continuing and increasing relevance in the twenty-first century, when it is, perhaps, more important than ever to understand the early development of the Islamic world. Students and scholars of early Islamic history will find this book a clear, informative and readable introduction to the subject.


"Ever since its first publication, The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates has been a landmark history of the early Islamic Middle East. In this new third edition, Hugh Kennedy has updated the work to incorporate a range of the latest research. It remains an indispensable text for teaching Middle Eastern history at university level and offers an authoritative overview for the interested general reader."

Harry Munt, University of York, UK

"The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates is a lucidly written and very competent work authored by one of the most prominent scholars of early Islamic history in the western world. Very reliable and featuring detailed discussions of the major themes in early Islamic history, it is yet eminently readable and accessible to the non-specialist audience."

Nikolay Antov, University of Arkansas, USA

Table of Contents

1:The matrix of the Muslim world: the near East in the early seventh century 2: The Birth of the Islamic State 3: Conquest and division in the time of the Rashidun Caliphs 4: The Umayyad Caliphate 5: The early ‘Abbasid Caliphate’ 6: The Middle ‘Abbasid caliphate 7: The structure of politics in the Muslim commonwealth 8: The Buyid confederation 9: The Kurds 10: The Hamdanids 11: Bedouin political movements and dynasties 12: Early Islamic Egypt and the Fatimid empire

About the Author

Hugh Kennedy is Professor of Arabic at SOAS, University of London. His previous publications include The Armies of the Caliphs. Military and Society in the Early Islamic State (2001), The Great Arab Conquests. How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In (2007)and (as editor) Warfare and Poetry in the Middle East (2013).

About the Series

A History of the Near East

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Middle East / General
HISTORY / Medieval