A Brief History of Islam
This concise work, an outstanding primer, is divided into five major sections. The first presents the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and explains the early ideological disputes that led to the split between Sunni and Shi‘a. In part two, Sonn examines the development of institutions, law, political structure, cultural achievements and spirituality during the “Golden Age” of Islam. This is followed by a look at division and reorganization, and how external challenges—the Crusades, the decline of the Abbasids and the rise of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals—affected Islamic history. Section four is particularly relevant to understanding current events in the Middle East, as the author addresses colonialism and its effects, along with themes of Islamic reform that have developed during this period. Last, she examines the possible directions for the future.