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Muslim Journeys: Connected Histories

Centuries before the dawn of the modern age, the world was already a surprisingly interconnected place. Readings for this theme introduce a way of understanding the past in which Islam and the West are seen as products of a shared, cosmopolitan, and inextricably intertwined past. These books help envision the world of our ancestors, which was every bit as complex and dynamically interconnected as the world we live in today.

 

The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us The Renaissance
Q127.A5 A4 2011

British-Iraqi physicist Jim Al-Khalili unveils the medieval Arabic legacy of science and philosophy that advanced science and jump-started the European Renaissance.

 

In an Antique Land
DT56.2.G48 1994x

In 1980, Ghosh journeyed to a remote corner of Egypt looking for clues to the life of a 12th-century Indian slave whose story he had stumbled upon in letters written to the slave's master. Ghosh's work is a hybrid of history, cultural investigation and travelogue.

 

When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the 'Riches of the East'
DS5.95.G67 2008

While European intellectual, cultural, and commercial life stagnated during the early medieval period, Asia flourished as the wellspring of science, philosophy, and religion. Linked together by a web of religious, commercial, and intellectual connections, the different regions of Asia's vast civilization, from Arabia to China, hummed with commerce, international diplomacy, and the brisk exchange of ideas.

 

Leo Africanus

Exile and pilgrimage, the power of sexual love and family bonds, the savagery of war, and the profundity of religious passions are evoked in this historical novel telling of one man's journey, set against the splendor of the Renaissance and the vast tapestry of Muslim and Christian empires.

 

The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
DP99.M465 2002bx

In the eighth century, the Abbasids took control of the Islamic empire from the once-powerful Umayyads. Abd al-Rahman, an Umayyad, fled to Spain and founded al-Andalus. There Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together in relative peace and equality for centuries. The Andalusian kingdom has been largely ignored by Western and Eastern historians alike, but Menocal argues persuasively that to see the Middle Ages through an Andalusian lens reveals no dark ages among them but instead 'a whole series of golden ages.'