In its first thousand years—from the revelations to Muhammad in the seventh century to the great Islamic empires of the sixteenth--Islamic civilization flourished. While Europeans suffered through the Dark Ages, Muslims in such cities as Jerusalem, Damascus, Alexandria, Fez, Tunis, Cairo, and Baghdad made remarkable advances in philosophy, science, medicine, literature, and art. This engrossing and accessible book explores the first millennium of Islamic culture, shattering stereotypes and enlightening readers about the events and achievements that have shaped contemporary Islamic civilization.
Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair examine the rise of Islam, the life of Muhammad, and the Islamic principles of faith. They describe the golden age of the Abbasids, the Mongol invasions, and the great Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires that emerged in their wake. Their narrative, complemented by excerpts of the Koran, poetry, biographies, inscriptions, travel guides, and even a thirteenth-century recipe, concludes with a brief epilogue that takes us to the twenty-first century. Colorfully illustrated, this book is a wonderful introduction to the rich history of a civilization that still radically affects the world.
Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair are the Norma Jean Calderwood University Professors of Islamic and Asian Art at Boston College. They have written or contributed to many books on the history of Islamic art and architecture and recently served as principal consultants for Gardner Films’ acclaimed PBS documentary, Islam: Empire of Faith, for which this book was the companion volume.
“A timely study and important background to understanding the faith of more than one-fifth of the world’s population today.”—John L. Esposito, University Professor, Georgetown University and author of Islam: The Straight Path and editor of The Oxford History of Islam
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