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Islam in Historical Perspective, 1st Edition, organically integrates the history of Islamic societies with a discussion of how Muslim scriptures, laws, moral values and myths have shaped the lives and thought of individual Muslims and various Muslim communities from the rise of Islam until today. It provides readers with little or no prior knowledge of Islam and Islamic societies with a large body of carefully selected historical and scriptural evidence that enables them to form a comprehensive and balanced vision of Islam’s evolution from its inception up to the present day.
This book shows how Muslims have made sense of their life experiences by constantly interpreting and re-interpreting Islam’s foundational ideas in accordance with ever-changing social and political conditions. In addition to its combined historical and chronological approach, Islam in Historical Perspective offers in-depth discussions of intellectual dialogues and struggles within the Islamic tradition. The author shows Islam to be a social and political force, while also addressing Muslim devotional practices, artistic creativity and structures of everyday life.
The goal of this book is to help readers to develop personal empathy and enthusiasm for the subject of their study, which is absolutely essential for the success of any college course in the humanities. To enliven the narrative, the author provides a wealth of historical anecdotes and quotations from original sources that are designed to illustrate his principal points in a memorable, striking and entertaining way.
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Alexander (Sasha) Knysh was trained as an Arabist and historian of the Islamic Middle East in the former Soviet Union. He combines expertise in Arabic literature (both pre-modern and modern) with the knowledge of the history, religions, and cultures of the Middle East and Eurasia. He has been teaching and conducting research in these fields of academic endeavor over the past thirty years. In 1994, Professor Knysh joined the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies. In 1998, he was promoted to the rank of Professor of Islamic Studies. From 1998 until 2004, he served as chair of the department. In 1997-1998, he held the Sharjah Chair of Islamic Studies at the Department of Arabic and Middle East Studies, University of Exeter, UK. Although this was a permanent academic appointment, he chose to return to Michigan after one year in England.
More recently, Prof. Knysh has been working on several academic projects, including the history of Islam in Yemen and a study of the changing representations of Islam and the Muslims in Russian academic and popular discourses and mass media following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. His latest project, "Islam and Empire in the Northern Caucasus," explores the history and ideological underpinnings of Muslim resistance to the Russian conquest and subsequent domination of the North Caucasus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Simultaneously, he continues to pursue his original interest in the history of Sufi movements and thought in Islam; thus, he is currently serving as the section editor for "Sufism" on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia of Islam (3rd edition), E.J. Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands.
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