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A History of the Arab Peoples


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Table of Contents

Preface Author's Note Prologue PART I THE MAKING OF A WORLD (SEVENTH-TENTH CENTURY) 1. A New Power in an Old World The world into which the Arabs came The language of poetry Muhammad and the appearance of Islam 2. The Formation of an Empire The succession to Muhammad: the conquest of an empire The caliphate of Damascus The caliphate of Baghdad 3. The Formation of a Society The end of political unity A unified society: the economic bases Unity of faith and language The Islamic world 4. The Articulation of Islam The questions of authority The power and justice of God The shari'a The Traditions of the Prophet The path of the mystic The path of reason PART II ARAB MUSLIM SOCIETIES (ELEVENTH-FIFTEENTH CENTURY) 5. The Arab Muslim World States and dynasties Arabs, Persians and Turks Geographical divisions Muslim Arabs and others 6. The Countryside Land and its use Tribal societies 7. The Life of Cities Markets and cities The city population Law and the 'ulama Slaves Muslims and non-Muslims in the city Women in the city The shape of the city Houses in the city The chain of cities 8. Cities and Their Rulers The formation of dynasties The alliance of interests Control of the countryside Ideas of political authority 9. Ways of Islam The Pillars of Islam The friends of God 10. The Culture of the 'Ulama The 'ulama and the shari'a The transmission of learning Kalam Al-Ghazali 11. Divergent Paths of Thought Islam of the philosophers Ibn 'Arabi and theosophy Ibn Taymiyya and the Hanbali tradition The development of Shi'ism Jewish and Christian learning 12. The Culture of Courts and People Rulers and patrons Poetry and story Music Understanding the world PART III THE OTTOMAN AGE (SIXTEENTH-EIGHTEENTH CENTURY) 13. The Ottoman Empire The limits of political power Ottoman government The Ottomans and Islamic tradition Government in the Arab provinces 14. Ottoman Societies Population and wealth in the empire The Arab provinces The culture of the Arab provinces Beyond the empire: Arabia, the Sudan, Morocco 15. The Changing Balance of Power in the Eighteenth Century Central and local authorities Arab Ottoman society and culture The world of Islam Changing relations with Europe PART IV THE AGE OF EUROPEAN EMPIRES (1800-1939) 16. European Power and Reforming Governments (1800-1860) The expansion of Europe The beginnings of European empire Reforming governments 17. European Empires and Dominant Elites (1860-1914) The limits of independence The partition of Africa: Egypt and the Maghrib The alliance of dominant interests Control of the land The condition of the people The dual society 18. The Culture of Imperialism and Reform The culture of imperialism The rise of the intelligentsia The culture of reform The emergence of nationalism The continuity of Islamic tradition 19. The Climax of European Power (1914-1939) The supremacy of Great Britain and France The primacy of British and French interests Immigrants and the land The growth of the indigenous elite Attempts at political agreement 20. Changing Ways of Life and Thought (1914-1939) Population and the countryside Life in the new cities The culture of nationalism Islam of the elite and the masses PART V THE AGE OF NATION-STATES (SINCE 1939) 21. The End of the Empires (1939-1962) The Second World War National independence (1945-1956) The Suez crisis The Algerian war 22. Changing Societies (1940s and 1950s) Population and economic growth The profits of growth: merchants and landowners The power of the state Rich and poor in the city 23. National Culture (1940s and 1950s) Problems of education Language and self-expression Islamic movements 24. The Climax of Arabism (1950s and 1960s) Popular nationalism The ascendancy of Nasirism The crisis of 1967 25. Arab Unity and Disunity (since 1967) The crisis of 1973 The predominance of American influence The interdependence of Arab countries Arab disunity 26. A Disturbance of Spirits (since 1967) Ethnic and religious divisions Rich and poor Women in society A heritage and its renewal The stability of regimes The fragility of regimes Afterword 2002 Maps Genealogies and Dynasties The Family of the Prophet The Shi'i Imams The Caliphs Important Dynasties Ruling Families in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Notes Bibliography Index of Terms General Index

About the Author

Albert Hourani (1915-1993) was Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford. Malise Ruthven is a former editor with the BBC Arabic Service and World Service in London and is the author of Islam in the World and Islam: A Very Short Introduction.


This book by one of the most distinguished scholars of the Arab world and the Middle East is a splendid achievement that can be read with profit by rank beginners and jaded specialists. It is, moreover, written with the grace and wisdom that those who know Mr. Hourani's works have come to expect...This is history in the grand style. It can lead to a better understanding of the Arabs, past and present. -- L. Carl Brown New York Times Book Review There is something deeply reassuring and even redemptive about this very fine book...It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this book for this time. Here at last is a genuinely readable, genuinely responsive history of the Arabs...[Hourani] completely controls the best in modern as well as traditional Western scholarship and often lets the Arabs, their poets, historians, sages and ordinary people speak along with, rather than against, that learning. -- Edward W. Said Los Angeles Times Book Review [An] elegantly written study...[Hourani] delivers a grand story in a deceptively quiet and gentle tone of voice; a vision of the great journey of the Arab peoples. -- Robert Irwin Times Literary Supplement Mr. Hourani is one of the few scholars capable of writing a worthwhile history of the Arabs from the rise of Islam until the present day in under 600 pages. His treatment is inevitably broad-brush, but never superficial. He covers not only political history but culture, society, economy, and thought; and this distillation of a lifetime's scholarship is the book's greatest virtue. Economist This is a brilliant book, perhaps a landmark. It radiates the penetrating light of Albert Hourani's massive erudition upon what he calls the 'deeply disturbed societies' of the Arab world...Hourani is able to explain, concisely, matters of surpassing difficulty which must be understood in order to make sense of contemporary events...[A] rich and often gripping book. -- Thomas W. Lippman Washington Post Book World

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