The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam

[Ebook] ↠ The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam Author Marshall G.S. Hodgson – Johndore.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 532 pages
  • The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam
  • Marshall G.S. Hodgson
  • English
  • 20 August 2017
  • 0226346838

About the Author: Marshall G.S. Hodgson

Marshall Goodwin Simms Hodgson was an Islamic studies academic and a world historian at the University of Chicago He was chairman of the interdisciplinary Committee on Social Thought in Chicago.


The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of IslamThe Venture Of Islam Has Been Honored As A Magisterial Work Of The Mind Since Its Publication In Early 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 Islamic Civilization That Hodgson Created And Taught For Many Years At The University Of Chicago 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 The New Yorker Volume , The Classical Age Of Islam, Analyzes The World Before Islam, Muhammad S Challenge, And The Early Muslim State Between And Hodgson Then Discusses The Classical Civilization Of The High Caliphate The Volume Also Contains A General Introduction To The Complete Work And A Foreword By Reuben Smith, Who, As Hodgson S Colleague And Friend, Finished The Venture Of Islam After The Author S Death And Saw It Through To Publication

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10 thoughts on “The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam

  1. Tim says:

    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 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 intend to read all three volumes of his series at some point as the first volume was very informative, and filled with information that you most likely will not hear presented in a similar manner elsewhere in the West Hodgson is a Quaker, and like any historian, he has his own slant on history However, it is obvious that he has painstakingly and with great passion approached the subject of Islam with a seriousness of intent to educate the average Westerner on an often misperceived world culture Hodgson approaches this vast and rich history with an overarching view that concentrates mainly on the upper levels of society that is to say that he focuses on the elements that really determined the structure of society, from Shariah to literature, the Caliphal court and the systems of Hadith, jurisprudence fiqh and, most importantly, how the Islamic Ummah understood, implemented and practiced Muhammad s challenge Any student of Islam, especially in the West, owes it to themselves to read this collection from Hodgson His standing among historians is without question, and one looking to be informed on Islam needs to at least be aware of what Hodgson has to say

  2. Aasem Bakhshi says:

    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 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 period is perhaps the strongest part of this volume whereas, his take on Islamic theology and philosophy is perhaps the weakest I suspect that this is not because of his lack of command on the subject but the extraordinary historical detail from which he has to pick and choose for drawing his conclusions I think any serious reader of Islamic history and culture should not miss it I would let this volume sink in before I get my hands on the second one

  3. Tariq Mahmood says:

    The purpose of Islam was to create a special tribe, Ummah built on the allegiance of the divine as opposed to the non divine societies based on individual demands Marshall from this modest beginnings builds an evolutionary portrait of Islam as a global phenomenon And I think the main reason why Islam was able to dominate its so many other adversaries was that of its mercantile roots After all, the religion originated from a mercantile town of Mecca The Meccan culture before Islam resembled The purpose of Islam was to create a special tribe, Ummah built on the allegiance of the divine as opposed to the non divine societies based on individual demands Marshall from this modest beginnings builds an evolutionary portrait of Islam as a global phenomenon And I think the main reason why Islam was able to dominate its so many other adversaries was that of its mercantile roots After all, the religion originated from a mercantile town of Mecca The Meccan culture before Islam resembled the urban metropolis, loose moral values, no tribal structures, in short confusion and frustration for some as they saw the less worthy making money when they could not have in the old tribal setting Mohammad s message took them back to the known security of tribal value structures.This unique state is still very modern, even today Revolutions even today are based on very similar frustrations The other strong value of Islam is its focus on building and maintaining the ideal society The Qur an makes it sufficiently clear that the new way is for everyone, not just for moral heroes, by praising almost as much those who urge others to a virtue as those who practice it themselves The new life must be lived by a society at large.So here lies concrete proof that Islam cannot be adopted as merely an individual s religion It has a basic need to be implemented to the society How do the Ulema make it transform into an individual religion remains a mystery for me And I think this is why Islam does not fit very well in the Western cultures which are based on individual empowerment

  4. William says:

    Hodgson,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,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 Hodgson,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,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 reading, but it is, hands down, the best survey I ve read In this first volume, Hodgson begins by covering the preliminaries of historiography before moving on to pre Islamic Arabia and then to the period of classical Islam and the High Caliphate

  5. John says:

    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

  6. Aya Hatem says:

    awesome book I have ever read in Islamic history, discuss all the period from the beginning of Muhammed profit, classical Islam to the high caliphate in a book include 500 pages a brief knowledge of that classical age as writer talk about all is important, happened and levels that Muslims took lived did is a must.the events which divided Islam to thus Sunnah and Shi ah, all events of Fitnnah, definitions of Imamate Caliphate Mazhab and its Ulama Fiqh Shi r i.e.it s difficult to write a rev awesome book I have ever read in Islamic history, discuss all the period from the beginning of Muhammed profit, classical Islam to the high caliphate in a book include 500 pages a brief knowledge of that classical age as writer talk about all is important, happened and levels that Muslims took lived did is a must.the events which divided Islam to thus Sunnah and Shi ah, all events of Fitnnah, definitions of Imamate Caliphate Mazhab and its Ulama Fiqh Shi r i.e.it s difficult to write a review for a huge book in a great history for the east and it just part, but at all it took my eyes and I recommend to all who care about knowing Islam

  7. Chuck Kollars says:

    This volume is the first of three Although now a third of a century old, still by far the best description of Islam I ve ever seen The coverage is so much deeper than anything else I ve ever seen that it becomes qualitatively different The author warns in his Introduction that because of the type of material that s survived into the hands of historians, it s very easy for Islamic history to become long and boring timelines of names and dates Despite his strenuous efforts, I _still_ got tired This volume is the first of three Although now a third of a century old, still by far the best description of Islam I ve ever seen The coverage is so much deeper than anything else I ve ever seen that it becomes qualitatively different The author warns in his Introduction that because of the type of material that s survived into the hands of historians, it s very easy for Islamic history to become long and boring timelines of names and dates Despite his strenuous efforts, I _still_ got tired of what seemed endless lists of begats sometimes I strongly suspect that in the hands of a lesser author the same type of book would be just plain unreadable Here are just a few examples suggesting the breadth and depth of subjects covered Over the centuries Bedouins had been trying to unite in some organization larger than a tribe, but mostly they d had only mediocre results Islam was unconsciously the solution that finally worked Loyalty to a confessional faith a sort of ideology finally subsumed tribalism It s likely that originally Muhammed intended Islam to become another variant within Judaism But when that tack was roundly rejected by neighboring Jews, Islam started to become a separate faith instead The relation between political Islam the caliphate, the empire and religious Islam praise Allah was uncomfortable right from the start They very much needed each other, neither could succeed on its own Yet they didn t really understand each other There have _always_ been significant fundamentalist trends and splinter groups within Islam The first black flags appeared before 800 A.D People wanting to purify Islam, to return to the roots , happened as early as the next generation after Muhammed Islam has been _extremely_ varied Tell me the Camel Riding Warrior, the Machiavellian Courtier, and the Whirling Dervish Sufi all belong to the same religion, and I ll think you re pulling my leg Except it s true At the heart of Islam is an extreme individuality and an extreme equality If a Martian were given written descriptions of various Earth cultural philosophies and asked to organize them, he d probably put Islam and America especially the Puritanism of New England in the same basket Both distance and the passage of time quickly turned the language and poetry of the Quran into something archaic that practically nobody understood Thus attitudes toward the book are very different from ours toward The Bible The Quran is so short and oddly organized or in some cases so overly specific to particular situations in Medina that _by_itself_ it can t even really be used to completely guide how one should live Great elaboration by clerics, jurists, and scholars has been necessary

  8. Sagheer Afzal says:

    Having finally read this book, I do not think as other reviewers do that this book is magisterial It is certainly worth reading despite the dense language, and the authors tendency to meander into episodes that are not so relevant to the theme of the book What makes this such an interesting book is the authors take on the evolution of Islam A lot of other authors have tended to view Islamic history as a series of events This one dimensional view is however faulty Marshall shows very clearly Having finally read this book, I do not think as other reviewers do that this book is magisterial It is certainly worth reading despite the dense language, and the authors tendency to meander into episodes that are not so relevant to the theme of the book What makes this such an interesting book is the authors take on the evolution of Islam A lot of other authors have tended to view Islamic history as a series of events This one dimensional view is however faulty Marshall shows very clearly that when you look at how religion has evolved through the ages you need to bear in mind the following factors 1 Religions don t blossom in a vacuum Co existing religions and cultures play a huge part in shaping the character of a religion 2 No religion, especially Islam, dominates the local culture Religions adapt to cultures With that in mind, it was with great interest that I learnt how Sharia law came to be as it is today The early proponents of Sharia law sought to make Sharia as universal and encompassing as Halaka, the Jewish body of rules and rituals This was for two reasons A Islam was now spreading into other countries and they were wanted to maintain the integrity of Arab culture B They observed the worldly influence and power of their contemporary Rabbis and as such they wanted the same status and power To that end they fabricated Hadith and traditions.This had devastating consequences for Islam The misogyny inherent within Arab culture perpetuated The tribalism which Islam sought to eradicate persisted The early Faqih and Jurists tried very hard to make Arab culture the only culture in which Islam could be practised I did have a few issues with Marshall s research I did not like his statements on the Quran Garbled and patently incoherent or his characterisation of Bedouin culture as crude There is a reason for this Marshall used the Quranic translation of AJ Arberry Now, Arberry does a reasonabe job of translating the Arabic but anyone reading his notes can clearly see the mind of a Christian clergyman trying to show up the Quran A lot of the books which Marshall used for his research were written by Orientalists Edward Said in his book Orientalism showed clearly that the quality of these books were vitiated by the snobbery and racism of the authors Their analysis precluded almost as much as it included Subsequently there are a couple of holes in Marshall s research When describing Umar II, he mentions that Umar II modelled himself on Umar ibn kittab, but fails to mention the fact that Umar II was the great grandson of Umar ibn kittab He also stated that when disputants arrived from Egypt to assassinate Uthman ibn Uffan there were no bodyguards outside the door of Uthman Completely untrue Marshall s description of the Mutazilittes and Ashariites and Falsafah seemed quite accurate Reading this section of the book highlighted to me a great tragedy in Islam The fact that the best and brightest minds of that generation wasted their intellectual gifts in the dry as dust arguments that differentiated the various schools of thought Immersing themselves in trivia and inane debates My personal take on this is that the Mutaziliites sought to advance Islam by trying to make reason a part of their faith They were opposed by literalist clergy who did not want their power diminished I find it hard to believe there was any other reason The clergy were opposed to Muslims reading the Quran for themselves and thinking for themselves Sadly, their other opponents, the Falsafah, who believed they alone had access to the mysteries of the Quran by virtue of their knowledge of maths and sciences, were not that muchbroad minded In my opinion the Falsafah, were abounding in intellectual arrogance and snobbery They were so enamoured of Aristotle and Plato, that they tried to weave the arguments of Plato and Aristotle into Islam I think it would be disconcerting for a lot of Muslims to realise the influence of Aristotle and Plato on Islamic thought, especially in Sufism Interesting to note that that none of the Falsafah seemed to think the Quran sufficient It would be equally disconcerting to note that Christian monks had a huge influence on Sufism The final part of the book which details the decline of the Abbasid Caliphate was sad to read In the beginning the Abbasid caliphate were exemplary for their patronage of translators and their willingness to learn from other cultures Towards the end, it degenerated into sectarianism and the dissolute living by the Caliphs Which raises an interesting question How could it have turned out better for Islam The answer will delight Shias In Abrahamic religions the family of the prophet were entrusted to keep the masses on the straight path The descendants of Haroon, the brother of the Prophet Musa, became priests and guided people So the precedent was already there for Muslims The great tragedy that occurred in Islam was the marginalisation of the family of Holy Prophet PBUH , the Ahlul bayt The sons of Hazrat Ali, guided the early Muslims in matters of Islamic law Due to the depredations of Muawiyah, this vital link became lost to Muslims Because of that the message of the Quran became lost amongst the Muslims The Muslim community needed the Ahlul Bayt for guidance on how the Quran could be appliedThe actions of the Ashariites, Mutazilites, and Philosophers, are a stark reminder of what happens when people turn the Quran to their own desires instead of turning their desires to the Quran As Hazrat Ali remarked in Nahjul Balagh It should be realised that none of Ashariites, Mutazilites, and Philosophers, were able, in my opinion, to access the meaning of the Quran Despite the great knowledge of the Philosophers and the sharp debating minds of the Ashariites and Mutazilites Their inability to do so caused Islam to stagnate Because as it says in Surah Waqiah None may touch this book except the pure In the early years of Islam there were none purer than the family of the Holy Prophet PBUH Had they been there to act as the leaders for Muslims, they would have prevented the excesses of the Sufis and the pointless squabbling of the Ashariites and MutazilitesAnd the Muslim world would not be in the sorry state it is in today

  9. Chris says:

    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 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 reason, this was insanely dry, dense and all too scholarly The rest of the book reads quite well, although it starts to slow down as Islamic civilization getsandcomplex, since the names of the different groups becomes increasingly hard to keep up with, and he spends time jumping from place to place So far, the second volume suffers from this as well

  10. Zachary Moore says:

    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 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 or early Islamic histroy and does a much better job than most of approaching the ideal of a total history