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The Formation of Islam

The Formation of Islam
Religion and Society in the Near East, 600–1800


textbook Award Winner

Part of Themes in Islamic History

  • Date Published: January 2003
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521588133

£ 33.99

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About the Authors
  • Jonathan Berkey's 2003 book surveys the religious history of the peoples of the Near East from roughly 600 to 1800 CE. The opening chapter examines the religious scene in the Near East in late antiquity, and the religious traditions which preceded Islam. Subsequent chapters investigate Islam's first century and the beginnings of its own traditions, the 'classical' period from the accession of the Abbasids to the rise of the Buyid amirs, and thereafter the emergence of new forms of Islam in the middle period. Throughout, close attention is paid to the experiences of Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims. The book stresses that Islam did not appear all at once, but emerged slowly, as part of a prolonged process whereby it was differentiated from other religious traditions and, indeed, that much that we take as characteristic of Islam is in fact the product of the medieval period.

    • An accessible and comprehensive survey of the religious history of the Near East from 600 to 1800
    • Covers both the formation of Islam, and its relationship to other religious traditions
    • For students and general readers as a starting-point for further study
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    • Winner of the Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani prize 2003

    Reviews & endorsements

    'No doubt, the study provides a scholarly treatment of the subject … not only students and lay public would find it interesting and informative, more serious scholars of the subject would also find it worth-reading.' Islamic Studies

    'The Formation of Islam makes a significant contribution to what it is hoped will become a prominent strand in Islamicate historiography … the book lucidly charts the incremental formation of the Islamicate state-society complex … an incisive and textured account of the ebb and flow of Islamicate civilisation.' The Muslim World Book Review

    '… a fascinating, complex and dynamic plot, that is both chronological and thematic. The narrative is packed with information and interpretations, sometimes conflicting interpretations that challenge the traditional story, or criticize the theory of a particular historical school. But, condensed as it is, Berkey enlivens it with anecdotes, verses of poetry, quotations of hadith or particular scences of medieval life.' Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2003
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521588133
    • length: 301 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.438kg
    • contains: 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Near East before Islam:
    1. Introduction
    2. The religions of late antiquity
    3. Arabia before Islam
    4. The early seventh century
    Part II. The Emergence of Islam, 600–750:
    5. Approaches and problems
    6. The origins of the Muslim community
    7. Early Islam in the Near East
    8. The Umayyad period
    9. The beginnings of sectarianism
    10. The non-Muslims of early Islam
    11. The 'Abbasid revolution
    Part III. The Consolidation of Islam, 750–1000:
    12. Issues of Islamic identity
    13. Religion and politics
    14. Shi'ism
    15. The formation of Sunni traditionalism
    16. Asceticism and mysticism
    17. The non-Muslim communities
    Part IV. Medieval Islam, 1000–1500:
    18. The medieval Islamic Near East
    19. A Sunni 'revival'?
    20. Common patterns in social and political organization
    21. Modes of justice
    22. The transmission of religious knowledge
    23. Sufism
    24. Popular religion
    25. From medieval to modern Islam.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Art and Culture of Islam
    • Contemporary issues in Islam
    • Early and Medieval Islam
    • Gunpowder empires: Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals
    • History of the Middle East to 1800
    • Introduction to Islam
    • Islam and Modernity in South Asia
    • Islam in the World
    • Islamic History-1
    • Islamic Middle East, 600-1800
    • Islamic World
    • Jewish Society in Islamic Lands, 600-1500
    • Making of Modern Middle East
    • Medieval Islamic History
    • Middle East 600-1600
    • Muslims and the Qur'an
    • Philosophies and Religion of Islam
    • Religion and Politics in the Muslim World
    • World Civilizations
  • Author

    Jonathan P. Berkey, Davidson College, North Carolina
    Jonathan P. Berkey is Associate Professor of History at Davidson College. His publications include Popular Preaching and Religious Authority in the Medieval Islamic Near East (2001).


    • Winner of the Middle East Studies Association Albert Hourani prize 2003

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