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A History of Islamic Societies

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  180 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Long considered a classic, A History of Islamic Societies is now that much more useful a reference for general readers and scholars alike. Widely praised for its balanced and comprehensive account, Ira Lapidus' work has been fully revised in its coverage of each country and region of the Muslim world through 2001. It incorporates the origins and evolution of Islamic societ ...more
Paperback, 1002 pages
Published August 26th 2002 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 29th 1988)
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Jul 18, 2012 Jen added it
The thing about Lapidus is options: you can learn a lot about the minutiae of Islamic Societies OR you can beat someone senseless with this massive book. Or both. Options.
Lumumba Shakur
It reads like a textbook and is an obvious Oriental work of scholarship, hence in regards to religious themes, works off of a few questionable premises (e.g. the alleged agreed upon closure of the gate of ijtihad, the Hanbali school being the premier Traditionalist school that is more faithful to the sources of Islamic law than the others, popular Sufism being tied to "Orthodox" Sufism - though the distinction is made, constant references to saint worship, etc.). I imagine much of this is based ...more
Yousef M
A truly outstanding book. Wide ranging and filled with information yet still very lucid and accessible, If you are looking for an authoritative textbook or reference on Islamic history, I cannot imagine a better resource than this.

Lapidus charts the socio-economic and political evolution of Islamic societies throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and even Europe. He doesn't dive into excessive detail, but makes a slightly more than cursory overview of many important fields. Lapidus is as com
Shimaa Elsayed
كتاب موسوعي يضم عرض لأحوال المجتمعات الإسلامية منذ ظهور الإسلام وحتي قيام الدول القومية الحديثة المعاصرة متتبعا تطور وضع الإسلام بهذه المجتمعات وتأثيره فيها وتأثره بها .. الكتاب قائم على السرد التاريخي وترجمته ليست على المستوي المطلوب... أفضل ما في الكتاب الخاتمة التي جاءت في 100 صفحة تقريبا ولكنها ضمت ملخصا وافيا عما دار حوله الكتاب بتوسع قد يصل بالقاريء إلى حد الملل... نخلص من الكتاب إلى أن شكل الاسلام في كل مجتمع ارتبط بوضع المجتمع ذاته قبل مجيء الاسلام له وعلى الطريقة التي دخل الاسلام بها إل ...more
This book an absolutely wonderful, comprehensive tomb of the history of Islamic Societies. It will answer every question you have ever had about when this battle happened, or who fought who when. It's detailed, well organized, and Lapidus includes tons of maps, graphs, and table to help illustrate his points. It is the perfect book for any looking to learn about a historically situated Islam.

But Carllee, you say, why only 3 stars? Well, let me tell you ...

To no fault the author, this is a histo
The right book at the right time for me. Well written with lots of depth butstill tuned for the lay reader. Kind of like a well-written textbook for a course I wish I could take. Comprehensive in exploring the religious and political history of the Islamic middle east. Looking forward to chapters on Islamic Spain, central Asia and South Asia. Great glossary. Not for the faint of heart at 843 pages with no sex or violence or romance or suspense.
I'll be honest I haven't actually read this whole book (perhaps more accurately described as a cinderblock). As a resource though it is spectacular and I intend to keep on referencing it in the future. For a comprehensive guide to Islamic societies, movements, and histories it is one of the best I've seen.
Erum Al-Howaish
This has been a delightful read.. It perfectly describes the history of the Middle East from the emergence of Islam until the formation of the contemporary modern states. I would highly recommend it for those who are interested in the history of Middle Eastern politics and Islam.
Megan RFA
Incredibly dense and detailed. All you ever wanted to know and all you didn't realize you wanted to know but are glad to have read it.
Read chunks of it for class. Really helpful for a basic grounding in Islam. I need to go back and drink in more of it.
Apr 15, 2012 Albert marked it as to-read
Shelves: me-history
Pretty readable. Get a comprehensive history of Islam in about 600 pages. Wrote a paper from it and was impressed.
Comprehensive history of the Islamic world. This is a must read for anyone enjoys pontificating on current events.
Long time ago, read it for a college course.
Chris Tempel
Good for overview
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Jul 12, 2012 Bjm Index added it
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“There is nothing in the Quran or early Muslim religious literature to suggest an iconoclastic attitude. Grabar has argued that Muslim calligraphy and vegetal arts were most likely a pragmatic adaptation to the need for a new imperial-Islamic emblem distinct from the Byzantine and Sasanian portraits of emperors. The use of vegetal designs and writing was prior to any religious theory about them. Once adopted, they became the norm for Islamic public art. Theories about Islamic iconoclasm were developed later.” 1 likes
“The merger of religion and politics is a classical Islamic ideal; in the recent era, they have again been brought together. The utopian aspirations of the Islamic movements evoke the Muslim ideal of the caliphate, but in many respects they are an altogether novel adaptation of Islamic concepts to modern conditions.” 0 likes
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