A Compendium of Knowledge about Islamic Civilization: Its History, Contributions, and Influence
Figure 1: Front cover of Islamic Civilization: History, Contributions, and Influence: A Compendium of Literature by Shaikh M. Ghazanfar
Review of Islamic Civilization: History, Contributions, and Influence: A Compendium of Literature by Shaikh M. Ghazanfar. Hardcover, 656 pages, Size: 236x161 mm. Publisher: Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press (a division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), 2006. ISBN-10: 0810852640 - ISBN-13: 978-0810852648.
The book, published in 2006 by Dr Shaikh M. Ghazanfar, is an extensive compendium of literature on Islamic civilization. It presents more than mere annotations - it covers hundreds of books and articles in detailed and focused "literature briefs" that provide a springboard to extensive readings for any student or teacher of Islamic culture.
The book covers almost 650 books and articles, with a page or so on each, so it is much more than mere annotations. Intended for other scholars and researchers, one gets a good idea of each reference's contents --and then, if need be, can pursue the book or article further.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest about things Islamic. While much of the new literature is refreshingly positive, some seems to reflect a revival of the centuries-old, well-embedded misconceptions about the Islamic world. This book is partly a complement to that interest, with coverage relating to the literature that the author accumulated over the last 15-20 years in connection with other research endeavors pertaining to the early Islamic social thought .
This readily accessible compendium of literature on Islamic civilization represents a window to some of the literature pertaining to Islamic history, contributions to knowledge, and the influence of that reservoir once it was assimilated in medieval Europe. It is unique in that it presents more than mere annotations; it is a compendium of "literature briefs"—detailed and focused descriptions—of each of the over 600 books and articles covered. Students, research scholars, and professionals will find this book to be full of useful sources and stimulus for further reading.
From the Preface of the Book
"In order to convey a general sense of the present undertaking, a quotation from one of the most eminent 20th-century European scholars of Islamic civilization seems appropriate: ‘‘For our cultural indebtedness to Islam, we Europeans have a ‘blind spot.' We sometimes belittle the extent and importance of Islamic influence in our heritage, and sometimes overlook it altogether. For the sake of good relations with Arabs and Muslims, we must acknowledge our indebtedness to the full. To try to cover it over and deny it is a mark of false pride' (Watt, 1972, p. 2) .
Figure 3: The late William Montgomery Watt (1909-2006), Emeritus Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh and an eminent expert of Islamic civilisation. ©Edinburg University Library website. (Source).
"One can multiply such observations from numerous other scholars.
"Islamic Civilization: History, Contributions, and Influence, however, is not a narrative of what this quotation suggests. The purpose here is more modest: to provide a readily accessible compendium of literature on Islamic civilization, with a particular focus. Specifically, the book represents a window to some of the literature pertaining to Islamic history, contributions to knowledge, and the influence of that reservoir once it was assimilated in medieval Europe. Over a period of several centuries, indeed, that knowledge ‘‘laid the foundations for a quite unprecedented revival of learning in Europe' and stimulated ‘‘the Renaissance in the thirteenth century, the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, and eventually the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century' (Nebelsick, p. 9). The book is uniquely different in that it presents more than mere annotations; it is a compendium of ‘‘literature briefs,' that is, it provides a more detailed and focused description of each of the more than 600 books and articles covered. Nonetheless, it must be hastily confessed that the coverage is by no means exhaustive, nor all-inclusive; that would be an impossible task for any such venture.
"In the post-9/11 environment, there has been almost an explosion of interest about things Islamic, as evident by a plethora of recent publications—what some have called the emergence of an ‘‘Islamic industry.' While some of the new literature is refreshingly positive, some seems to reflect a revival of the centuries-old, well-embedded misconceptions about the Islamic world. This book is a complement to that interest, and we hope it serves a positive purpose. The coverage relates primarily to the literature that the author accumulated over the last 15–20 years in connection with other research endeavors pertaining to the early Islamic social thought. Thus, most references tend to have a social-science/humanities orientation.
"The book is intended to serve as an exploratory research tool and a reference document for a variety of potential users: students at all levels (public and private schools, colleges and universities, graduate and undergraduate); research scholars and other professionals who may find some initial, ‘‘start-up,' information here and then may wish to explore further; those seeking an addition to resources available in various academic programs and departments (especially those with interdisciplinary/area studies emphasis) as well as university/college and local libraries; and the interested educated, curious readers, especially those who are globally minded, with historical, cross-cultural propensities. Readers may find the briefs as useful sources and stimulus for further reading. Indeed, given the wealth of material covered and the somewhat ‘‘encyclopedic' nature of the contents, the book can be a handy reference tool for general information about the Islamic civilization in any environment where open-minded curiosity flourishes.
"For all such users, however, the briefs will serve chiefly as an important beginning, not an exhaustive resource. As indicated, these briefs are more than mere annotations. The detail and focus provided for each reference usually cover about a page for books and a few paragraphs for articles, depending upon the content and comprehensiveness of the particular reference. In all cases, despite the possibility that some readers may dispute some of the contents, the briefs attempt to highlight the main purpose of this volume, that is, a glimpse into Islamic civilization and its history, contributions, and influence. Moreover, for books particularly, titles of parts, sections, and/or chapters have typically been provided; this should assist readers who may wish to explore some specific sections or articles in the book. For larger references, however, selected chapter listings are generally provided. For each book briefed, other details are also noted; for example, whether bibliographies and indexes are available. Obviously, bibliographies and references provided in books and articles are sources of additional research possibilities.
"It is also to be noted that in many cases, while the title of a referenced book or article may not signify much relevance to the objective of this compendium, closer scrutiny would reveal considerable coverage of Islamic civilization's history, contributions, and/or influence. Where a book or article title does not sufficiently reflect this objective, the briefs provide appropriate quotations that may help to convey that sense, and those quotations may prompt further curiosity and exploration. Parenthetically, it may be noted that some word spellings in the quotations have been retained from the original source.
"Given the nature of this venture, organization of these briefs provided a special challenge. After considering various options, it was decided to divide the presentations separately in two parts: Books and Articles. All references and briefs for each part are then grouped into three main classifications: (A) Sciences/Humanities; (B) Islam–West Linkages; (C) General. Both for book-briefs and articlebriefs, most references are in the first classification, that is, Sciences/Humanitiesoriented. And both for books and articles, classifications (A) and (C) are further divided into broad subject groups. For classification (A), there are two main groups: (i) Social Sciences/Humanities, further divided into seven subgroups: (a) History, (b) Economics/Commerce, (c) Philosophy, (d) Education/Learning, (e) Geography, (f) Humanities, and (g) Social Sciences, General; and (ii) Sciences. Classification (B), Islam–West Linkages stands alone, but classification (C) is divided into three groups: (i) Spain/Al-Andalus, (ii) Crusades, (iii) Miscellaneous.
"The guiding principle for these classifications and subdivisions is to enable ease of accessibility to readers. There is some arbitrariness, however, as to where a particular reference has been placed. There are references that could easily fit in one or another classification or its subdivision. For example, the book entitled Europe and Islam, by Hichem Djait, is placed in classification (B), Islam–West Linkages, but, given its considerable historical content, it could as well belong in classification (A), under (a) History. Similarly, Medieval Technology and Cultural Change, by Lynn White, is included in classification (A), under (g) Social Sciences, but could as well be placed under the (ii) Sciences subgroup of that classification. And Europe: A History, by Norman Davies, is included in classification (A), under (a) History, but given its considerable emphasis on linkages it could as well belong in classification (B), Islam–West Linkages. The same goes for the articles. What this means is that any consultant of this compendium looking for a reference in a particular classification or its subdivision may also want to explore elsewhere in the book for additional leads.
"While the book provides a fairly large coverage of literature on Islamic civilization, there are several other similar sources; some are simply listing of references, others provide some annotations. Several of these are enumerated below:
- "1. F. Adamson and R. Taylor (editors), The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005.
- 2. Therese-Anne Druart, Brief Bibliographical Guide in Medieval Philosophy and Theology, 1998–2002, Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 2003.
- 3. Hans Daiber, A Bibliography of Islamic Philosophy, 2 volumes, E.J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands, 1999.
- 4. David Ede, Guide to Islam, G.K. Hall and Company, Boston, MA, 1983.
- 5. Seyyed Hossein Nasr (with the collaboration of William C. Chittick), An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science, 3 volumes (6,173 references, covering about 1,200 pages), Cultural Studies and Research Institute, Tehran, Iran, 1975–1991.
- 6. J.D. Pearson (with assistance of Julia F. Ashton), Index Islamicus, 1906–1955: A Catalogue of Articles on Islamic Subjects in Periodicals and Other Collective Publications, W. Heffer and Sons Limited, Cambridge, UK, 1958.
- 7. Michelle Raccagni, The Modern Arab Woman: A Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ, and London, 1978.
- 8. Jean Sauvaget (as recast by Claude Cahen), Introduction to the History of the Muslim East: A Bibliographical Guide, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965.
- 9. Helaine Selin, Science Across Cultures: An Annotated Bibliography of Books on Non-Western Science, Technology, and Medicine, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London, 1992 (there is a large section on Islamic Science and the Middle East).
"In addition, a current Internet website http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/is-biblio.htm includes, among other things, a rather comprehensive bibliography (126 pages, over 1,700 book titles) on Islamic Studies, classified in 12 categories: (1) General, (2) Muhammad, (3) The Qur'an, (4) Shi'i Islam, (5) Sufism, (6) Theology and Philosophy, (7) Jurisprudence, (8) The Arts, (9) History, (10) Geographic-Regions and Nation-States, (11) Culture, Economics, and Politics, (12) Miscellany. It was assembled in 2004 by Patrick S. O'Donnell, Department of Philosophy, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, California."
Dr. S.M. Ghazanfar is Professor-Emeritus (2002) of Economics, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA. He was the former chairman of the Department of Economics (1979-81 ; 1993-2001), former director of International Studies Program (1989-93), and served as adjunct professor (2003-2008), University of Idaho, Moscow. For more details on Dr. S.M. Ghazanfar's works and career, visit his website.
Table of Contents
- PART I: BOOKS
- ISLAM-WEST LINKAGES
- PART II: ARTICLES
- (A) SCIENCES/HUMANITIES
- (B) ISLAM-WEST LINKAGES
- (C) GENERAL
- Topical Bibliography
- Author, Editor, Translator Index
- Title Index
- About the Author
 See for instance: Medieval Islamic Economic Thought: Filling the Great Gap in European Economics, edited by S. M. Ghazanfar . New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. This volume includes fifteen (twelve by the editor) papers published over the years in various national and international journals.
 The Influence of Islam on Medieval Europe (Islamic surveys) by W. Montgomery Watt (Edinburgh University Press, 1972); reprinted 1983, 1994.
by: FSTC Limited, Wed 06 August, 2008