Robert Irwin's authoritative introduction to the fourth volume of The New Cambridge History of Islam offers a panoramic vision of Islamic culture from its origins to around 1800. The introductory chapter, which highlights key developments and introduces some of Islam's most famous protagonists, paves the way for an extraordinarily varied collection of essays. The themes treated include religion and law, conversion, Islam's relationship with the natural world, governance and politics, caliphs and kings, philosophy, science, medicine, language, art, architecture, literature, music and even cookery. What emerges from this rich collection, written by an international team of experts, is the diversity and dynamism of the societies which created this flourishing civilization. Volume four of The New Cambridge History of Islam serves as a thematic companion to the three preceding, politically oriented volumes, and in coverage extends across the pre-modern Islamic world.