Monday, November 9, 2020

Review of The Golden Age of Islam by Maurice Lombard

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History, Empires

Elaborate Description

This book presents the setting behind the rise and Golden age of Islam circa eight to eleventh century. This time period is marked with the rise of Islamization (religion), Arabization (language), and Semitization (civilization). Islamic conquest of many regions was relatively easy as the people in those regions wanted to remove their own leaders. The conquests did not change much of the administration of the people which meant organization was not ruined. Conquered people could keep their religions, institutions, offices, and currency but needed to pay a tax. The conquest had very little destructive force in terms of burning and looting cities.

The rise of Islam in the East facilitated the rise of the West in a later time period. While the West was in the Dark Ages, the East was culturally vibrant. Due to no powerful nation in the West to protect trade, trade was heavily reduced, only to become more important with the Muslim Worlds’ protection of trade. Commerce is not the only institution which Islam facilitated in the West. Cordoba and Baghdad were two intellectual centers. When Cordoba fell to the Christians, they found a wealth of knowledge which brought about improvements in medicine and mathematics.

During a time, gold was scarce in Islam but with the rise of Islam, gold tended to flow to into the Muslim world. The influx of gold reduced its value, providing motivations to reinvest the gold before it loses more value. This incentive helped expand the economy, with the merchant class benefiting the most causing social unrest. Trade for the Muslim World was highly important as many regions lacked many resources such as wood and metals. Trade was the only way to obtain the scarce resources. Another trade item were slaves. Many of the available resources were extracted by use of slaves. Lombard mentioned the Muslim World was based on slavery, but not only as a labor force. Slaves had political influence and were used in expansion wars. Trade was needed with soundings countries to obtain slaves as protected subjected could not become slaves.

There is no narrative in this book as only a few events are represented. The story is told in the form of cities and regions with respect to monetary, resource, and social aspects. Quickly going from city/region to city/region and quickly moving time periods makes this book difficult to read. There is little explanation of what caused the rise of Islam and how it obtained the Golden age, making understanding the rise of the Muslin World difficult.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9781558763227
Pages to read:   249
Publication:     2009
1st Edition:      1971
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           3