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BIBESSAY - Islam and Politics Past and Present A...

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Islamic studies specialists often dismiss the many works on radical Islam as much chaff and little wheat. Yes, there is no lack of the shrill, the sensation- al, and the superficial. Make no mistake, however. Many well-researched and thoughtful books and articles has been produced. So much has been written on this subject during the past several decades that any attempt at an an exhaustive listing would result in a book-length compilation. Indeed, such a compilation already exists—in two volumes, The Contemporary Islamic Revival ( 1991 ) and The Islamic Revival Since 1988 ( 1997 ), both edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and others. Even the limited selections made in this essay have produced more pages than many readers may wish to review and certainly more titles than all but those planning to write their own books on the subject require. To accom- modate the busy reader I have sought out shorter works (slim books, jour- nal articles, or chapters in books), but a sufficient number of the big books have also been included to satisfy those seeking greater detail on one aspect or another of this large and protean subject. Discussing the literature on Islamist thought and action in today’s Muslim world is a large enough assignment in itself, but this subject can be set in proper context only with some background knowledge of Islamic his- tory throughout its fourteen-plus centuries. A few general works are cited to serve the needs of those readers with little knowledge of Islamic history. Islam and Politics Past and Present: A Bibliographical Essay Full bibliographical information is to be found in the alphabetically arranged list of works cited that follows this essay.
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General Studies of Islamic History and Civilization For overall orientation the two-volume Cambridge History of Islam , the three-volume Venture of Islam , by Marshall G. S. Hodgson,or the large one- volume A History of Islamic Societies by Ira Lapidus can be recommended. All three have the advantage of treating the entire Muslim world and not just the Middle East. By contrast, André Miquel’s L’Islam et sa civilisation , in spite of the name, deals essentially with the Middle East from the rise of Islam to this century. Miquel does, however, offer a 72 -page “Tableaux chronologiques” divided into four concurrent categories—“Histoire poli- tique et militare,”“Histoire religieuse,”“Histoire economique, social et cul- turelle,” and “En dehors de l’Islam”—which are very useful for ready chronological orientation. Hodgson’s Venture of Islam is by no means an introductory text. It is perhaps best read by those possessing more than rudimentary knowledge of the subject. His was a pioneering work in seeing Islamic civilization as a whole, in challenging the longstanding interpretation of Muslims as having been in a state of decline since the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the early community (volume 3 is significantly entitled “The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times,” referring to those impressive Muslim polities: the Ottoman, Safavid, and Moghul Empires).
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