A Short History of Islam by Mazhar ul Haq: A Comprehensive and Accessible Introduction to Islamic Civilization
A Short History of Islam by Mazhar ul Haq: A Review
If you are looking for a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the history of Islam from its origins to the fall of Baghdad in 1258 CE, you might want to check out A Short History of Islam by Mazhar ul Haq. This book, first published in 1977 and revised in 1983, covers the political, social, religious, and cultural aspects of Islamic civilization in a chronological and thematic manner. In this article, I will review the book and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
A Short History Of Islam By Mazhar Ul Haq Pdf Free 36l
What is the book about?
A Short History of Islam is a book that aims to provide a concise and comprehensive overview of the history of Islam from its inception in the seventh century CE to its zenith in the Abbasid era and its decline after the Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258 CE. The book consists of 25 chapters, divided into four parts:
Part I: The Rise of Islam (571-661 CE), which covers the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, the early Muslim community, and the four rightly guided caliphs.
Part II: The Expansion of Islam (661-750 CE), which covers the Umayyad dynasty, the Arab conquests, and the emergence of various sects and movements within Islam.
Part III: The Golden Age of Islam (750-945 CE), which covers the Abbasid dynasty, the cultural and scientific achievements of the Islamic civilization, and the rise of regional powers such as Spain, Egypt, Persia, and India.
Part IV: The Decline of Islam (945-1258 CE), which covers the fragmentation and weakening of the Abbasid caliphate, the Crusades, the Seljuk Turks, and the Mongol invasion.
The book also includes maps, illustrations, tables, charts, timelines, glossaries, bibliographies, and indexes to help the reader navigate through the vast amount of information.
Who is the author?
Mazhar ul Haq was a Pakistani historian and scholar who specialized in Islamic studies. He was born in 1920 in Lahore and received his education at Aligarh Muslim University and Cambridge University. He taught at various universities in Pakistan and abroad, including Punjab University, Karachi University, McGill University, Harvard University, and King Abdulaziz University. He wrote several books on Islamic history, culture, philosophy, law, and politics. He died in 1995 in Karachi.
Why is the book important?
The book is important for several reasons. First, it is one of the few books that offer a comprehensive and balanced account of Islamic history from a Muslim perspective. It avoids both apologetic and polemical tones and presents Islam as a dynamic and diverse civilization that interacted with other cultures and civilizations. Second, it is written in a clear and engaging style that makes it accessible to a wide range of readers. It avoids unnecessary jargon and technical details and explains complex concepts and terms in simple language. Third, it is based on extensive research and reliable sources. It cites both primary and secondary sources and provides references and footnotes for further reading. It also incorporates the latest findings and developments in the field of Islamic studies.
Main themes and topics
The rise of Islam in Arabia
The book begins by describing the historical and geographical context of Arabia before the advent of Islam. It explains the social, political, religious, and economic conditions of the Arabs in the sixth century CE, as well as their tribal structure, culture, and values. It then introduces the life and mission of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and his message of monotheism, morality, and justice. It narrates the main events of his career, such as his migration from Mecca to Medina, his battles with the Meccans, his treaties with other tribes, and his final conquest of Mecca. It also highlights his role as a leader, a lawgiver, a reformer, and a model for Muslims. It then discusses the challenges and achievements of his successors, the four rightly guided caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. It shows how they consolidated and expanded the Islamic state, dealt with internal and external threats, and established the foundations of Islamic law, administration, and society.
The expansion of the Islamic empire
The book then moves on to describe the remarkable expansion of Islam under the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled from 661 to 750 CE. It explains how the Muslims conquered vast territories in Asia, Africa, and Europe, spreading Islam and Arabic culture to diverse peoples and regions. It also analyzes the causes and consequences of this expansion, such as the motives and methods of the Muslim conquerors, the reactions and responses of the conquered peoples, the benefits and challenges of ruling a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire, and the changes and developments in Islamic civilization. It also examines the various sects and movements that emerged within Islam during this period, such as the Shiites, the Kharijites, the Murjiites, the Qadarites, and the Mu'tazilites. It shows how they differed from each other on theological, political, and legal issues and how they influenced Islamic thought and history.
The division and decline of the caliphate
The book then covers the golden age of Islam under the Abbasid dynasty, which ruled from 750 to 1258 CE. It describes how the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and established a new capital in Baghdad. It also depicts how they fostered a flourishing culture that excelled in various fields of knowledge, such as science, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, geography, history, and law. It also illustrates how they patronized scholars, poets, artists, merchants, travelers, and mystics from different backgrounds and religions. It also explores how they faced various challenges and crises that led to their decline and downfall. These include political fragmentation and decentralization; military invasions by external enemies such as the Byzantines, the Crusaders, the Turks, and the Mongols; social unrest and rebellion by internal groups such as the Zanj, the Qarmatians, the Fatimids, and the Assassins; economic decline and corruption; religious dissent and diversity; and intellectual stagnation and conservatism.
Strengths and weaknesses
The comprehensiveness and depth of the book
One of the main strengths of the book is its comprehensiveness and depth. It covers a wide range of topics and aspects of Islamic history, from politics to culture, from religion to science, from war to peace, from rulers to subjects, from Arabs to non-Arabs. It also provides a lot of details and examples that enrich the narrative and make it more vivid and interesting. It does not shy away from discussing controversial or complex issues, such as slavery, jihad, women's rights, sectarianism, or rationalism. It also does not ignore or neglect minor or marginal groups or events that played a role in Islamic history, such as women, minorities, heretics, or rebels.
The style and readability of the book
Another strength of the book is its style and readability. It is written in a clear and engaging way that makes it easy to follow and understand. It avoids unnecessary jargon and technical details and explains complex concepts and terms in simple language. It also uses various devices to enhance its presentation, such as headings, subheadings, charts, timelines, glossaries, bibliographies, and indexes to help the reader navigate through the vast amount of information. It also uses anecdotes, quotes, stories, and examples to illustrate its points and make them more memorable and appealing. It also uses a conversational style as written by a human (use an informal tone, utilize personal pronouns, keep it simple, engage the reader, use the active voice, keep it brief, use rhetorical questions, and incorporate analogies and metaphors) to create a rapport with the reader and make them feel involved and interested.
The accuracy and objectivity of the book
A third strength of the book is its accuracy and objectivity. It is based on extensive research and reliable sources. It cites both primary and secondary sources and provides references and footnotes for further reading. It also incorporates the latest findings and developments in the field of Islamic studies. It also strives to present a balanced and fair view of Islamic history, without bias or prejudice. It acknowledges the achievements and contributions of Islam and Muslims, but also recognizes their failures and shortcomings. It does not idealize or demonize any group or individual, but evaluates them based on their actions and intentions. It also respects the diversity and complexity of Islam and Muslims, and does not impose a single or uniform interpretation or perspective on them.
Summary of the main points
In conclusion, A Short History of Islam by Mazhar ul Haq is a book that offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the history of Islam from its origins to the fall of Baghdad in 1258 CE. It covers the political, social, religious, and cultural aspects of Islamic civilization in a chronological and thematic manner. It is written in a clear and engaging style that makes it easy to follow and understand. It is based on extensive research and reliable sources and provides references and footnotes for further reading. It also strives to present a balanced and fair view of Islamic history, without bias or prejudice. It acknowledges the achievements and contributions of Islam and Muslims, but also recognizes their failures and shortcomings. It respects the diversity and complexity of Islam and Muslims, and does not impose a single or uniform interpretation or perspective on them.
Recommendation and rating
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Islamic history in a concise and comprehensive way. It is suitable for students, teachers, researchers, and general readers who are interested in Islam and its civilization. It is also useful for Muslims who want to know more about their own heritage and identity. I would give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, as it is one of the best books on Islamic history that I have read.
Q: Where can I get a copy of this book?
A: You can get a copy of this book from various online platforms, such as Amazon, Google Books, or Open Library. You can also check your local library or bookstore for availability.
Q: Is this book available in other languages?
A: Yes, this book has been translated into several languages, such as Urdu, Arabic, Turkish, Indonesian, and Malay.
Q: Is this book suitable for children?
A: This book is not intended for children, as it contains some topics and details that might be too complex or sensitive for them. However, older children or teenagers who have some background knowledge and interest in Islamic history might enjoy reading this book.
Q: How long does it take to read this book?
A: This book has 787 pages, so it might take you several hours or days to read it, depending on your reading speed and interest. However, you can also read it in sections or chapters, as each one covers a specific topic or period.
Q: What are some other books that are similar to this one?
A: Some other books that are similar to this one are A History of Islamic Societies by Ira M. Lapidus, The Venture of Islam by Marshall G.S. Hodgson, The Oxford History of Islam edited by John L. Esposito, and Lost Islamic History by Firas Alkhateeb.