Introduction: Islam in a plural Asia

David O. Morgan, Anthony Reid

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscriptpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    In writing the history of the Islamic world, there are two expedients which, sooner or later, become impossible to avoid: periodisation and geographical subdivision. These are bound to be, to a greater or lesser extent, arbitrary, but that does not imply that they are necessarily meaningless. It is possible to tell the story of early Islam, the mission of the Prophet Mu?ammad, the first Arab Muslim expansion and the Umayyad and ?Abbasid caliphates as a single, integrated narrative. There is an essential unity to the historical evolution of the Muslim community, in its first four centuries, which lends itself to such an integrated treatment. From the eleventh century, and increasingly thereafter, this is no longer the case. The political unity represented by the early caliphates is no more. Though caliphs remained important for a time as local rulers, whether in Baghdad, Cairo or al-Andalus, and even more as instruments of legitimisation for Islamic regimes far and wide, real power passed to a multiplicity of sultans, amirs, maliks and so on. There is nothing very surprising about this. At the point at which this volume commences, the Islamic world stretched uninterruptedly from Spain to Central Asia and northern India. Over the next few centuries it was to spread much further, deeper into India and to western China, and by oceanic routes to East Africa, coastal South Asia, South-East Asia and southern China.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe New Cambridge History of Islam
    Subtitle of host publicationVolume 3: The Eastern Islamic World Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781139056137
    ISBN (Print)9780521850315
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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