In spite of its astonishing impact upon the modern world, the civilization of Islam is still Terra Incognita for many in the West. The thirteen contributors to this volume, all eminent specialists, aim to remedy that situation. Islam itself, and the peoples who accepted it, come first in the story. The central area and period of Islamic greatness - the Middle East and North Africa from the advent of Islam in the seventh century to the aftermath of the Mongol conquests in the thirteenth - produced a culture of extraordinary depth, variety and richness. Art, social life, trade, mysticism, literature, music, science and warfare all developed uniquely Islamic forms; all are fully considered and lavishly illustrated.
Islam spread far outside its core space and time: Spain, Iran, Ottoman Turkey and Monghul India all developed their own striking variations of basic Islamic institutions and artefacts. Then, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Islam came into close contact with the advancing West; and the two cultures are still struggling to come to terms with eachother. All these themes are fully developed in the book: a comprehensive coverage which is further enhanced by 160 pages of illustrations, more than half of them in color.