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Time in Early Modern Islam
Calendar, Ceremony, and Chronology in the Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman Empires


  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108412803

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About the Authors
  • The prophet Muhammad and the early Islamic community radically redefined the concept of time that they had inherited from earlier religions' beliefs and practices. This new temporal system, based on a lunar calendar and era, was complex and required sophistication and accuracy. From the ninth to the sixteenth centuries, it was the Muslim astronomers of the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires who were responsible for the major advances in mathematics, astronomy and astrology. This fascinating study compares the Islamic concept of time, and its historical and cultural significance, across these three great empires. Each empire, while mindful of earlier models, created a new temporal system, fashioning a new solar calendar and era and a new round of rituals and ceremonies from the cultural resources at hand. This book contributes to our understanding of the Muslim temporal system and our appreciation of the influence of Islamic science on the Western world.

    • This is the first analysis of the Islamic temporal system
    • Features a novel comparison of the three early modern Islamic empires: the Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman
    • Examines the impact of Islamic astronomy and astrology on European science and society
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This work is … both of general human interest, as well as specific interest with respect to the dialogue between 'Islam and the West' today.' Amina Inloes, Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies

    '… a well-written and well-organized summation of the complexities of time management in Muslim societies, not only in the early modern period, but throughout Islamic history. The book will prove useful as an introduction to these issues for both advanced undergraduate and graduate students.' John J. Curry, Middle East Media and Book Reviews (

    '… Blake's book is a fascinating exploration of how early modern empire building was far more complex than the application of an imperial ideology that hinged on a pure religious identity. Rather, as evidenced through three distinct applications of time and ceremony in building Islamic empires, empire building was a recursive reconciliation of the ideology of the metropole with local conditions and expectations that allowed for the intersection of unique cultures in areas of commerce and the exchange of ideas. While the ruling elite of each of the three empires in Blake's study saw itself as the power base of an Islamic empire, all three empires were nevertheless the successors of the preceding cultures that they conquered and were subsequently compelled to use localized cosmopolitan constructions and understandings of time to ossify the reality of their power and to secure the viability of their empires.' H-War

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108412803
    • length: 223 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • contains: 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Safavid, Mughal and Ottoman empires
    2. Calendar
    3. Ceremony
    4. Chronology: era
    5. Chronology: millenarian.

  • Author

    Stephen P. Blake, University of Minnesota
    Dr Stephen P. Blake is Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota and St Olaf College, Minnesota. His books include Shahjahanabad: The Sovereign City in Mughal India, 1639–1739 (Cambridge, 2002) and Half the World: The Social Architecture of Safavid Isfahan, 1590–1722 (1999).

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