Lavishly illustrated with over 300 pictures, including more than 200 in full color, The Oxford History of Islam offers the most wide-ranging and authoritative account available of the second largest--and fastest growing--religion in the world.
John L. Esposito, Editor-in-Chief of the four-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, has gathered together sixteen leading scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to examine the origins and historical development of Islam--its faith, community, institutions, sciences, and arts. Beginning in the pre-Islamic Arab world, the chapters range from the story of Muhammad and his Companions, to the development of Islamic religion and culture and the empires that grew from it, to the influence that Islam has on today's world. The book covers a wide array of subjects, casting light on topics such as the historical encounter of Islam and Christianity, the role of Islam in the Mughal and Ottoman empires, the growth of Islam in Southeast Asia, China, and Africa, the political, economic, and religious challenges of European imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Islamic communities in the modern Western world. In addition, the book offers excellent articles on Islamic religion, art and architecture, and sciences as well as bibliographies.
Events in the contemporary world have led to an explosion of interest and scholarly work on Islam. Written for the general reader but also appealing to specialists, The Oxford History of Islam offers the best of that recent scholarship, presented in a readable style and complemented by a rich variety of illustrations.
A good introduction to Islamic history is hard to find, and readers interested in the world's second-largest religion can rejoice at finding this one. Esposito, professor of religious studies at Georgetown University, has brought together a fine cadre of scholars for this anthology. Fifteen articles cover almost every subject that might interest a novice in the field: philosophy, science, art, architecture and histories of Islamic empires and civilizations. The art (100 b&w photos and 200 four-color illustrations) comes fast and thick, adding a great deal to the text. A particular virtue of the book is its extension of Islamic history into the present day, with articles focusing on colonialism, American and European Muslims and 20th-century Islamic revivalism. The book is not perfect, of course, and some of its faults are serious. Only one contribution is dedicated to religious belief and practice as such, and it is one of the weaker articles in the collection. Also, although Sufism is of paramount importance in Islamic history, there is no essay dedicated to the mystical branch of Islam, and the activities of Sufi orders form only a part of several of the historical articles. That said, this valuable and near-comprehensive tome would be a welcome addition to many libraries' shelves.