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Medieval Islamic civilization : an encyclopedia /

Other Authors: Meri, Josef W.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Routledge, 2006
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Review by Choice Review

The 13th volume of the Routledge Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages, this resource focuses primarily on Islamic culture and civilization from the 6th to the 17th centuries. The encyclopedia offers overviews of a variety of humanistic topics, including Muslim philosophy, science, literature, medicine, and mathematics. Warfare and political strife are deemphasized, though still covered. This work explores the entire medieval Muslim world from Iberia to Southeast Asia, including the Middle East and South Asia. Entries cover a broad range of topics, such as important people (Saladin), ethnic groups (Persians), political relations (Muslim-Crusader relations), and religious thought (Shi'i thought). Arranged in alphabetical order, entries range from a few paragraphs to several pages. Each entry contains cross-references and a bibliography. Additionally, there is an extensive index, some black-and-white illustrations, and thematic and A-to-Z lists of entries. This work uses standard transliterations and often provides Arabic translations of English words. Guessing which entries are included proved difficult--one must rely strongly on the index. This comprehensive and necessary reference work in a growing discipline is sure to be a welcome addition to any collection supporting Islamic or medieval studies. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. C. A. Sproles University of Louisville

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

This addition to the Routledge Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages series is intended to fill a gap by providing "a single reference work that presents Islamic civilization in a manner intelligible to the nonspecialist." Previously, the nonspecialist would have had to settle for general reference works or works focused on Europe, thus coming away with a fragmented view of Islamic civilization during the medieval period. In more than 500 entries, coverage ranges from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa to the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, and from the sixth through the seventeenth centuries, a span of time that includes what is generally described as the golden age of Islam, 750-1200 C.E. The introduction tells us that historical themes have been deemphasized "in favor of an original synthesis that gives prominence to aspects of daily life." Accordingly, there are entries on topics such as Chess, Children and childhood, Desserts and confections, Gardens and gardening, Spices,0 and Sports.0 Other entries treat places, people, and topics in the arts, economics, law, politics, religion, and science. Reflecting another trend in medieval studies, a series of entries, including Women, patrons0 and Women, poets,0 deal with women's contributions. One-half of a page to four pages is the general range of entry length. In a few cases, further reading lists are joined by lists of primary sources (for example, in Nafs al-Zakiyya0 and Slaves and slave trade, western Islamic world0 ). A small number of black-and-white photographs accompany the text. Both volumes contain the index as well as alphabetical and topical lists of entries. The three maps that are provided can be found only in volume 1. Entries contain see also0 references, but since this is a work intended for nonspecialists, a few see0 references would have helped--for example, to direct readers looking for Hagia Sophia0 to Aya Sophia.0 Both are listed in the index, but with different page references (and in one case, an incorrect page reference) and no indication that they refer to the same building. The entry Avicenna0 in the index points the reader to several different pages but not to Ibn Sina0 --although readers looking up Averroes0 in the index will find page references for Ibn Rushd.0 Though Medieval Islamic Civilization0 is probably not right for the secondary school audience suggested in the introduction, academic and large public libraries owning other titles in the series will certainly want to add it. The set would also stand alone as part of an Islamic studies collection. --Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

In this two-volume work, part of Routledge's series on the Middle Ages, editor Meri (The Cult of Saints Among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria) points out that Westerners tend to think of Islam only as a religion and are unaware of the great civilization that grew from Islam. Hence he saw the need for a work that would present an overview of medieval Islamic civilization to a Western audience of general readers as well as students and specialists. He defines the medieval Islamic time line as running from 622 C.E., which marks the first year of the prophet Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Medina and the first year of the Islamic calendar, to the 17th century. During the early years of this period, he writes, the West benefited greatly from Islamic advances in mathematics and philosophy as well as from the preservation and transmission to the West of surviving texts of classical civilization. More than 700 signed A-to-Z entries contributed by international scholars and experts explore the scientific, artistic, religious, and cultural developments of Islamic civilization; the importance of interfaith relations; and the connections between Europe and the Islamic world. Indexes appear in both volumes. Bottom Line One could argue that articles on certain topics are too short while others are omitted altogether. Granada's Alhambra Palace warrants only two pages, for example, while Islamic Spain gets even less. The important Islamic emirate centered in the Spanish city of Saragossa does not get an entry; nor does Saragossa's Aljafer!a Palace, a gem of Western Islamic secular architecture. Another factor that might limit accessibility is the encyclopedia's steep price. These caveats aside, the set is recommended for larger academic and public libraries.-Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.