The Crucible of Islam is a remarkable work of scholarship.
Little is known about sixth-century Arabia. Yet from this distant time and place emerged a faith and an empire that stretched from Iberia to India. G. W. Bowersock illuminates this obscure yet most dynamic period in Islam, exploring why arid Arabia proved to be fertile ground for Muhammad’s message and why it spread so quickly to the wider world.
Erudite and lucid…Bowersock’s fluency with specialist literature and his ability to transform scattered research into a coherent narrative are admirable.
To write about the Arabian background of the Prophet Muhammad, about the origin of Islam in Mecca and Medina, and about the first conquests that led to the formation of the Arab empire (roughly between 560 and 690 AD) is to attempt to describe the first moments of a supernovathe flash of a stupendous detonation that marks the death of a massive star and the release of enormous amounts of energy. G.W. Bowersock has met this challenge in a little book of explosive originality and penetrating judgment…With The Crucible of Islam we reach the very center of this roiling world. We look into the depths of the crucible itself, to seize, in a true historical perspective, the ‘molten ingredients’ that came to form Islam. His book is an exercise in the art of historical truth. Bowersock is a classical scholar. He derives his skills from a tradition that reaches back to the Renaissance, to Erasmus and to Lorenzo Valla, whose demolition of the legendary Donation of Constantine he has himself translated with gusto. His book derives its strength from the method advocated by the great classical scholar Richard Bentley (1662–1742): ratio et res ipsareason confronting the thing itself…Part of the joy of reading this account of the background and emergence of early Islam is the knowledge that Bowersock has built it from solid stones, the weight of every one of which he has tested with his own critical mind. Secure that we are in the hands of a master, let us think about the implications of the substantial gains to scholarship that Bowersock has brought us in this compressed masterpiece…We must be grateful to Bowersock for giving us, at this time, a masterpiece of the historian’s craft.
This work is highly recommended for those interested in the religious and political attitudes that gave rise to Islam.
This is an invaluable examination of the origins of a great religion.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
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