Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World
by James E. Lindsay
June 2005, 324pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-32270-9
$75, 63€, A108
eBook Available: 978-0-313-06105-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

This detailed account of life in the medieval Islamic world sheds light on a significant portion of history commonly eclipsed by the fabled stories of medieval Europe.

From the time of its birth in Mecca in the 7th century C.E., Islam and the Islamic world rapidly expanded outward, extending to Spain and West Africa in the west, and to Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent in the east. An examination of the daily life in these Islamic regions provides insight into a civilized, powerful, and economically stable culture, where large metropolitan centers such as Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo thrived in many areas, including intellectual and scientific inquiry. In contrast with medieval Europe, there is little common knowledge in the West of the culture and history of this vibrant world, as different from our own in terms of the political, religious, and social values it possessed, as it is similar in terms of the underlying human situation that supports such values. This book provides an intimate look into the daily life of the medieval Islamic world, and is thus an invaluable resource for students and general readers alike interested in understanding this world, so different, and yet so connected, to our own.

Chapters include discussions of: the major themes of medieval Islamic history; Arabia, the world of Islamic origins; warfare and politics; the major cities of Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo; religious rituals and worship; and a section on curious and entertaining information. Author James E. Lindsay further provides a focused look at the daily lives of urban Muslims during this time period, and of their interactions with Jews, Christians and other Muslims. Timelines, tables (including a calendar conversion to align the Islamic lunar and the Christian solar dates, and a dynastic table highlighting the major genealogies of the ancient ruling families), a bibliography, and a glossary of important dates and technical terms are also provided to assist the reader.


"In this book, which is part of an ongoing series on the daily life of historic civilizations, Lindsay gives an excellent overview of the medieval Islamic world. Intended for an audience with little or no background on this topic, the book offers a thorough introduction to the beginnings of Islam, its history up to the year 1300, and material on a wide range of other topics, e.g., warfare, social practices, entertainment, and geography....Numerous maps, photographs, and illustrations are spread throughout the text, and some added extras include a few recipes of traditional meals and a conversion table of the Islamic and Western calendars. This book will be very valuable to history students and those interested in learning about the faith and practices of Muslims. Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, March 1, 2006

"For general readers, Lindsay describes the Islamic world from the perspective of people who were part of it when it represented much of the best of what human civilization had to offer regarding political order, military prowess, economic vitality, civil society, and intellectual and scientific inquiry. His end date is 1300, when the Islamic world became very different after the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258 and the end of the Crusades in the 1290s."—Reference & Research Book News/Art Book News Annual, November 1, 2005

"James E. Lindsay's Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World will reach into many a high school holding as it covers Islam's expansion across Europe and the daily lives of those who lived in medieval times under Islamic rule. From major issues in Islamic history from politics to religion to Muslim interactions with other peoples, Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World is an important history indeed."—Midwest Book Review, November 1, 2005

"This book is a straightforward, easy-to-read account of everything you ever wanted to know about medieval Islamic history. Informative but written in a relaxed tone, this text illustrates all aspects of this subject, including the life of Muhammad, the Islamic conquests, the rise and fall of different dynasties throughout the Middle East, warfare, religious practices, interactions with Jews and Christians, and cultural aspects such as clothing and names. A full discussion about sources, both their strengths and weaknesses, opens this book, which is important to understand as a history student. Dealing with primary sources is the most important, and often most difficult, task for an historian, so this section is a great introduction to historiography that can be applied to any area of history....Complete with pictures and maps, this book is thoroughly educational and entertaining as well, therefore its an indispensable source for medieval Islamic history."—HistoryHotline.com, February 15, 2006

"While many Westerners are familiar with the Europe of the Dark Ages, far fewer understand what daily life was like in the thriving Islamic world during the same period. Daily Life in the Medieval Islamic World reviews major historical and cultural events while explaining the more personal details of daily life, such as the role of camels, housing arrangements, and entertainment. For the truly immersive experience, Lindsay even provides a few medieval Islamic recipes and instructions for converting between Christian and Islamic calendars."—Middle East Journal, 00/00/00

"Many of the suggestions for further reading would only be available in academic libraries. Purchase where needed for reports"—School Library Journal, November 1, 2005

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. With direct ties to the curriculum and supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes are organized in an accessible narrative chapter format, and supplemented with photos, maps, and other ready-reference materials, Daily Life volumes are ideal sources for general readers and students of world history, United States history, social studies, anthropology, religion, literature, arts, and more.

Each volume provides:
• An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
• Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
• A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
• Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more
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