Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,902 ratings  ·  320 reviews
We in the west share a common narrative of world history. But our story largely omits a whole civilization whose citizens shared an entirely different narrative for a thousand years.In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as the Islamic world saw it, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. He clarifies why ou...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by PublicAffairs (first published 2009)
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Mar 14, 2013 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Westerners

Right time, right place, right style, this is 100% recommended.

This is vast but fast history : you have to hang on to your hat, or whatever you hang on to, which might not be a hat, since the kind of hats which a strong wind might snatch from your head are rarely worn today. In this book a lot of obscure places and people go rushing by, like a speeded up film, like a boiling river. Obscure to a Western reader, that is, but I’m going to hazard that Transoxiana, Khorasan, Ctesiphon, and the exact...more
Sandy Tjan

Being neither Muslim nor Western, but nevertheless a citizen of what CNN and other Western media regularly dub “the world’s largest Muslim nation*”, I often feel baffled by the so-called “clash of civilizations” between these two entities. And lately, not just baffled, but also profoundly disturbed by the scale and frequency of sectarian violence in my country, the majority of which allegedly perpetrated by those the author of this book calls “jihadists”. The overwhelming majority of Indonesians...more
I want to recommend the unabridged audio version, as read by the author. The man's a giften historian in that he's able to tell an informed and accessible story both in writing and by voice. This book fits neatly as a grand narrative of Islam and helps to set contemporary events and worldviews into a historical context. I'd call it scholarly light, emphasizing the story over analytical details, and helps stitch more focused books into a larger picture most westerners are unfamiliar with.
World history from the Islamic point of view, yes, but written very much with the Western reader in mind, which is fair enough, presumably Middle Worlders don't need this kind of broadstroke overview. Ansary uses analogies with concepts that will be familiar to his audience in order to make things clearer and more easily digestible: for example when describing the gap left by the death of Mohammed, he points out that when a saint dies, you can't just appoint a new one in his place, and on the ot...more
Dec 22, 2011 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I do not think it would be a stretch to say that this book has changed my world view. A history of the world through Islamic eyes, it describes the kingdoms of Asia Minor and Persia chronologically, covering several I had literally never heard of, and explaining the various sects and rifts of Islam in a way that is engaging, memorable, highly readable, and fascinating. One learns why the Abbasids and the Fatimids split, why they are named what they are named, what the Caliphate really is, how lu...more
May 04, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Umayyads, Abassids, Ottomans, Wahabbists, Kamalists, and Great Satans
History books are frequently dry and factual, even when not written as textbooks, and when they're not, they tend to reveal the author's biases or axes to grind. Tamim Ansary, however, sets out to tell the history of Islam through Islamic eyes, not as an apologetic for Islam that ignores its less edifying historical episodes and its troubled present, nor as a Westerner viewing Islam as, at best, an exotically misunderstood Oriental tradition, and at worst, the religion of terrorists and women-in...more
Ansary is a remarkable story teller in the best sense of the word. Few Americans are sufficiently conversant with the history of the West, let alone Islam. Ansary takes us through the birth and decline of one of humanities most brilliant civilizations from an Islamic point of view, explaining why that culture sees things differently than the industrial west does. He also shows how the seeds of current conflict in the Middle East were sown not only by differing ideas about the world but by the ac...more
J.S. Bangs

World History, says Tamim Ansary in his introduction, is always the story about how we got to be where we are. It therefore always includes an implicit notion of who "we" are, and what our current place in the history of the world is.

Most people with a basic college education feel that they know how history works. First there was the ancient world, from whose murky depths emerged the cultural brilliance of the Greeks and the political might of the Romans. Then the Roman Empire fell, plunging the

Every single person who grows up in the United States should have to read this book before graduating high school. There is too much ignorance about the history of the Islamic World and that vacuum gets filled up with misinformation, propaganda and lies. This book is written by a historian in the US who hails from Afghanistan and it's an accurate historical account with some philosophical conclusions very similar to Will Durant. In a world where each side is trying to make the other side a "vill...more
Knowing about as little about the history of the Middle World (a.k.a., Middle East to Westerners) as one can, this book offered a tremendously satisfying overview, striking the ideal balance between summary and detail, objective reporting and critical analysis. Gently derisive of both Western and Muslim prejudices and dogma, Ansary presents himself as a trustworthy guide, unafraid to critique the culture of his forebearers but refusing to betray it or declare allegiance to another. Of course, an...more
Khairul H.
In this compact volume encompassing roughly 1400 years of history, Tamim Ansary explains to us in layman's terms what Islam stands for, its rise, slight decline and resurgence today. I'm Muslim and even I never really understood some things like the schism between Shi'a and Sunni and how a culture that produced so many pioneers in mathematics, astronomy, medicine and other sciences is seen today by some as backward and anti-knowledge. This book explains it all and explains in a very interesting,...more
Diah Sukmawati
Perspektif. Memang segala sesuatu menurut saya adalah perspektif. Termasuk juga sejarah dunia. Literatur yang beredar mengenai sejarah dunia dan yang sering dipublikasikan oleh dunia didominasi oleh penulisan dari perspektif Barat seperti Yunani, Romawi, Imperialisme, Revolusi, Reanisans dan semacamnya membuat perspektif kita mengagungkan oleh sejarah peradaban dan perkembangan umat manusia dari perspektif Barat.
Lalu bagaimana dengan Islam? Seperti yang dituliskan oleh penulis, biasanya sejarah...more
Tim Vicary
This is a great book. If you ever wanted to know how Muslims see the world, and how their idea of world history differs from that commonly taught in the west, then this book has the answer. Not only that, but it’s delightfully written too.

Tamim Ansary grew up in Afghanistan, but now lives in the United States where, amongst other things, he has been part of a team writing textbooks to teach world history in American schools. So he is ideally placed to see the world from two different perspective...more
Rebecca Reid
When I read a history book geared toward general readers, I always try to remember that it is only one author’s perspective. Although I may not notice it, I’m sure it will contain bias.

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary (published 2009 by Public Affairs) has the bonus of telling us from the subtitle that it is a biased work. I further appreciate the fact that Tamim Ansary, an Afghan-American and practicing Muslim, admits that this is a history “through...more
Can't recommend this enough. One of the best world history books there is, and especially helpful to see the Muslim perspective of events. I found it most helpful when it got to the Age of Discovery and told the story of how Muslims in India and Saudi Arabi had to deal with strange newcomers from England and France. The Crusades were also interesting. Apparently it is NOT considered a watershed moment in Islamic history. What was much bigger was Genghis Khan 200 years later storming through and...more
The book is one mile wide and one inch deep, yes it covers virtually all of history, and I mean right from start of start to the 21st century. I must accept that author has put up huge amount of information in a captivating and easy to read style. There are so many books claiming to tell you history of the world that one might ask the inevitable question, whats special about this one? Well this one tells you story from the perspective of people who are not only an important part of it (shaping i...more
Anti Wibawa
buku ini sebenarnya menarik. tapi bahasanya agak rancu jadi seringnya tersendat. terpaksa baca ulang sambil 'dahi berkerut'. kalau bukan gaya bahasa penulisnya, bisa jadi bahasa si penulis diinterpretasikan secara utuh ke dlm bhs indonesia oleh penerjemah.

two stars: for Indonesia translation. I still believe this is a good book, maybe i should consider English edition.
Amanda Sastri
May 17, 2014 Amanda Sastri rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amanda Sastri by: Tata
Shelves: islam
Kita mulai review ini dengan sebuah ayat

Dan demikian (pula) Kami telah menjadikan kamu (umat Islam), umat yang adil dan pilihan agar kamu menjadi saksi atas (perbuatan) manusia dan agar Rasul (Muhammad) menjadi saksi atas (perbuatan) kamu. (QS Al Baqoroh 2: 143)

Ayat ini powerful banget, selain karena diletakanya di tengah-tengah surat Al-Baqoroh, tapi maknanya luar biasa powerful dan bagus #yaiyalah Beberapa tafsir Indonesia menerjemahkan kata umat yang adil jadi umat pertengahan. Buat gw tafsir...more
A good friend actually turned me on to this book, six months ago or more. I bought it but in spite of liking the intro, put it down for other things. So I nominated it for the nonfiction group I'm in and when it was chosen started reading it seriously.

I really liked this book and I think I'd like the author. He's lived in the US for a long time and understands American history, politics and public opinion. He's not religious himself and has a great command of English as well as a considerable se...more
The author begins by describing his book as history through the eyes of Islam, but it’s really more of a history of Islam. And that’s ok, because for many Muslims, that is history. The author is correct that the western world gives scant attention to Islamic history, even though there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and it’s the second largest religion on the planet. There is a lot to be learned from this book, and the author’s presentation comes from a place of openness and tolerance—it’s...more
Evan Brandt
Last entry on this book, as I finished it Saturday night (pretty wild life I lead).
It answered for me many questions about the current situation in the Middle East that I had always had but never bothered to pursue and it did it in the way I like best, a broadbrush overview of the arc of history from when Mohammed was born to 9-11.
Ansary did an admirable job of explaining why the west and the Muslim world don't get along, we're not debating the same things, talking at cross purposes.
Here are som...more
Gary Hoggatt
I'm a major history buff. However, I'll freely admit to having done much more reading in American history than other topics. For example, I've read more biographies of George Washington than I have histories on Asia and the Middle East combined (unless maybe you give me partial credit for Japan and World War II). And, while such a trend is unlikely to change completely, I have started making some effort to branch out. An early pick for this effort was Tamim Ansary's 2009 Destiny Disrupted: A His...more
May 29, 2011 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Keith Clasen
Wow. Not only is this a fresh perspective for 'Western' eyes but the author uses an excellent combination of antidotes and sarcasm to unwind history, both Middle Eastern (or Middle World as he very compellingly explains) and Western. The story he tells, and he frankly explains that it is an Arab world-view story as opposed to a sourced and a footnoted history, is easy to read and understand, entirely enjoyable. Why did industrialization take root in Western Europe but, although the engineering w...more
Bryn Hammond
Just when I thought my interest in this book had petered out -- because with Ottomans, Safavids and Moghuls installed, the time periods I'm most into are at a close -- and where I am least familiar with the history, I came to the bit I truly learnt from, in a big-picture way: the infiltration of these grand edifices, that were at their peaks, by Europeans, non-deliberate, unconscious, that was the quiet (often quiet) ruin of them.

Before that -- I found of value his account of early Islam, and o...more
Simply put, this book was transformational for me. It completely displaced my prior view of Islamic history and thus drastically changes the context of which I view history, current events and the future to aspire towards - both from a geopolitical as well as a social perspective.

Tamim Ansary has the gift of presenting complex historical events in a simple, summarized narrative. Given the book covers from the founding of Islam to the current day, it's quite impressive that he is able to succinc...more
Apa jadinya bila tentara Muslim kalah di Yarmuk? Kerjaan Byzantium akan bercokol, cendekia tak bertumbuh, dan abad kegelapan Eropa akan berjalan lebih lama.

Ujaran tentang kepakan kupu-kupu yang menuai badai adalah fondasi kuat filsafat chaos (kaos) yang marak di era modern. Intinya, itu adalah runutan panjang dari hukum kausalitas yang tidak melihat variabel sebatas a dan b, tapi juga dampak panjang. Kajian ini marak sebagai sebuah langkah preventif, dan juga evaluatif. Di bidang sejarah, hal se...more
Tony Diaz
In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary offers readers a glimpse into a parallel vision of global history, one centered not in the West but what he calls "the Middle World"--the civilizations radiating out of Asia and Africa shaped by Islam. Forget the familiar narrative of ancient Greece and Rome, the medieval Church and feudalism, Renaissance and Reformation, Enlightenment and revolutions, nationalism and empires, World Wars and superpower competition--these frames are foreign to the Middle World....more
Destiny Disrupted is a lively, engaging introduction to world history from the perspective of the 'Middle World'—Western and Central Asia, the birthplace of Islam. It's not an academic work or a textbook, and covering such a vast swathe of history in about 400 pages means that Ansary inevitably has to gloss over some details. Yet he still manages to impressively synthesise a lot of material here into a narrative which gives the reader a sense of the broad arc of history from a Muslim/non-Western...more
To quibble, this is more of a history of the Islamic world than a history of the whole world, and not entirely through Islamic eyes as the very talented author is a secular Afghan-American clearly writing for Western folk (specifically, me), explaining how things unfolded in the Middle East from the Hijra to (almost) the present.

Still, it's an excellent if irreverent overview of important things that I did not understand (and still don't, fully) with particularly good sections on the first deca...more
I loved this book - a wonderfully written, captivating survey of world history seen from the vantage point of the Muslim world. Ansary is a storyteller, not a historian, and that makes for a galloping good read that was frequently funny, not to mention wry. I appreciated, so much, his attention to community as well as individuals, to religion and politics, and his critical deployment of tropes from The Princess Bride. I learned an enormous amount, and I'm still reflecting on everything it say ab...more
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Sources? 3 19 Sep 17, 2013 07:48PM  
  • God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
  • The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization
  • The Great Arab Conquests: How The Spread Of Islam Changed The World We Live In
  • The Arabs: A History
  • The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future
  • In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad
  • After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam
  • Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World
  • Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists
  • Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World
  • Forgotten Queens of Islam
  • The Venture of Islam, Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam
  • Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate
  • Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536
  • Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an
  • Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East
  • Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
  • Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran
Mir Tamim Ansary is an Afghan-American author and public speaker. Ansary gained prominence in 2001 after he penned a widely circulated e-mail that denounced the Taliban and called on the United States to bring political change to Afghanistan. The e-mail was a response to a call to bomb Afghanistan "into the Stone Age." His book West of Kabul, East of New York published shortly after the September...more
More about Tamim Ansary...
West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan Snapshots: This Afghan American Life Sejarah Dunia dari Sudut Pandang Islam Labor Day

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“In short, this or that behavior wasn't good because scripture said so. Scripture mandated this or that behavior because it was good, and if it was already good before scripture said so, then it was good for some reason inherent to itself, some reason that reason could discover.” 0 likes
“Here are two enormous worlds side by side; what's remarkable is how little notice they have taken of each other. If the Western and Islamic worlds were two individual human beings, we might see symptoms of repression here. We might ask, "What happened between these two? Were they lovers once? Is there some history of abuse?” 0 likes
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