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The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam (Venture of Islam #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  254 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The Venture of Islam has been honored as a magisterial work of the mind since its publication in early 1975. In this three-volume study, illustrated with charts and maps, Hodgson traces and interprets the historical development of Islamic civilization from before the birth of Muhammad to the middle of the twentieth century. This work grew out of the famous course on Islami ...more
Paperback, 532 pages
Published February 15th 1977 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1974)
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Aasem Bakhshi
A reviewer's remark of 'Poorly Written' actually provoked me to write this review. Venture of Islam is a remarkable book from any perspective, i.e., religious writing, literary style or simple lucidity of expression. The first 69 pages are my all time favorite as far as an introduction to sociology of religion in general and Islamic vocabulary in particular. I have just finished the first volume having read many parts for the second time. Hodgson's take on the political history of early Muslim p ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-reading
We are reading two of the three Hodgson volumes for a “History of the Middle East” class that, I feel, our professor has appropriately made a “History of Islamicate Civilization”.
My professor is a Muslim from Pakistan, so to hear him give credence to Hodgson, a Westerner, when it comes to Islamic history, gave me some confidence as to Hodgson’s accuracy. From my own research on Hodgson, it appears that he is THE authority in the West when it comes to scholarly accounts of Islam. Therefore, I in
May 12, 2015 William rated it it was amazing
Hodgson, more than anyone else, set the course for the study of Islamic and Islamicate history and society over the last half-century. The university I attended dropped Hodgson from the undergraduate curriculum just before I began my studies because he was "too difficult" for most students. I've wanted to dig into these three volumes ever since and now, more than twenty year later am finally doing so. I regret putting it off for so long. "The Venture of Islam" certainly isn't light or easy readi ...more
Noor Alam
Sep 15, 2015 Noor Alam rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book, written by a Quaker who clearly has an insatiable curiosity about history. Hodgson's project to tell the story of world history was unfortunately cut short by his untimely death, but luckily his colleague helped this book, one of three in a series, come to fruition. So much of what I understood to be the essence of what it means to be muslim was debunked in this book, from the five daily prayers to ramadan to even the idea that muslims believe that the prophet ...more
Jan 11, 2009 John rated it it was amazing
The Venture of Islam series is simply the best history of the the Islamic (and Islamicate!) world as a whole. Hodgson was such a visionary thinker, it is a shame he passed away so young!
While it's never a very good idea to look to a single work (or in this case, set of works) for an analysis of a huge portion of time, Hodgson does well in his dated attempt to provide a singular narrative overview of the development of Islam over the centuries and into modern period. His earlier volumes are more useful as an introduction than the third, which focuses on the "gunpowder empires and modern times."
Feb 11, 2008 Chris rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in a good history of early Islam.
This took some time to get into--the first 100 pages or so consists of a rather drab introduction to Islamic Studies and Arabic. This might be interesting to a newbie in Islamic Studies or Middle Eastern history, but the approach to the topic isn't interesting if you're not interested in an area studies approach to knowledge. Also, the Arabic stuff was pretty much old hat. Also, he spends about 50 pages after that "situating" the new religion of Islam in the world of 600 (or so) AD. For some rea ...more
Jun 25, 2009 DoctorM rated it it was amazing
An excellent introduction to the history of the Islamic world--- not just the Middle East and North Africa, but the Turkic, Indian, and East Indian Islamic areas as well. Hodgson was one of the first English-language historians to take a "global" approach to history, and the three volumes of "The Venture of Islam" try to look at the Islamic world in terms of not just Arabia, but of a complex of cultures and economies. There's a long intro chapter on language and Islam itself that can stand alone ...more
Zachary Moore
Jul 29, 2011 Zachary Moore rated it it was amazing
A marvelous work that anyone seriously interested in Islamic history should read and retain for reference purposes. It's a bit of a daunting work and the 70-page intro in which the author attempts to completely reshape the English terminology for the field is a bit pedantic. The tone of the work can also get to one at times--Hodgson is out to remake the entire historiography of Islam in the West and makes no bones about this fact. Still, the book remains one of the most enlightening you can find ...more
is there an arabic copy
Abdul Samad
Feb 07, 2014 Abdul Samad is currently reading it
Still reading the book.
Matthew Trevithick
To quote the New Yorker: 'This is a nonpareil work, not only because of its command of its subject but also because it demonstrates how, ideally, history should be written.'

It's incomparable to the overwhelming majority of books I've read, so the 1-5 star system seems a bit silly here.
Gordon Houtman
Aug 07, 2015 Gordon Houtman rated it it was amazing

I have read Will and Ariel Durant's "The History of Civilization," which covers this time period, but provides very little detail of this books range of interest.

I consider myself well-educated, but was largely ignorant of the history of this important culture, time frame and geographical location.

Now I know how little I know about "the classical age of Islam," and an outline to fill in. Starting volume two!
Joseph Hellion
Jul 20, 2015 Joseph Hellion rated it it was amazing
This book sets before itself the monumental task of capturing the complexity of the Islamicate civilization. The foundation is built upon which to stare at the remote past,with fresh eyes untainted by the prevalent "westernizing " of history, with caution and understanding of the limits and the misconceptions in approaching civilization studies in general. This is in short an amazing example of how history should be written.
Apr 17, 2010 Lucas marked it as wont-read
I won't rate this book, since I didn't actually read it. I started to read it with great interest, since it was recommended to my by my Arabic professor. It was entirely insufferable. It is written in the way that Western, non-Christian scholars write about Christianity - as if it's an interesting specimen. The small amount I read was so filled with academic jargon that I couldn't bear to read it.
Sarah Furger
Nov 10, 2013 Sarah Furger rated it it was amazing
Hodgson is the go-to scholar for Islamic History, and his book clearly defines and outlines the rise of Islam in a scholarly yet readable way. If anyone is thinking about it, please, read it!
Nov 13, 2011 Lily rated it really liked it
It was very well written! However, one does have to have prior knowledge of Islam and the different pieties from beforehand, or else it may be difficult to grasp his arugments.
Sep 13, 2016 Steve rated it liked it
Caught up in its own erudition but informative.
Tony Byrd
Mar 12, 2008 Tony Byrd rated it it was amazing
By far the best world historical analysis of the rise and development of Islamicate civilization. A classic in the field and a must for any serious reader of history.
Jul 15, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing
Definitive account in English on the emergence of the Islamic empire and the evolution of religious doctrine. A classic.
Apr 15, 2008 Teryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A breath-taking three volume work, with inspired and precise weaving of complexities. Hodgson produced a masterpiece.
Nov 12, 2008 Bude added it
sukar dicerna, tapi sangat berguna untuk mengetahui sejarah pra islam sampai masa nabi
 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
nyaris sempurna bagi mereka yg awam dan ingin mengenal sejarah Islam
May 01, 2007 Bubba rated it it was ok
For specialists only.
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Other Books in the Series

Venture of Islam (3 books)
  • The Venture of Islam, Vol 2: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods
  • The Venture of Islam, Vol 3: The Gunpowder Empires and Modern Times

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“If the Modern Technical Age is to remain human, it cannot overlook the trust that our ancestors have left with us. Our past cannot be mere matter for a more or less curious utilitarianism, like iron deposits, say, on the moon.” 0 likes
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