Cover image for A history of the Arab peoples
A history of the Arab peoples
Hourani, Albert, 1915-1993.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harward University Press, 1991.
Physical Description:
xx, 551 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1370 Lexile.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS37.7 .H67 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS37.7 .H67 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS37.7 .H67 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS37.7 .H67 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS37.7 .H67 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Upon its publication in 1991, Albert Hourani âe(tm)s masterwork was hailed as the definitive story of Arab civilization, and became both a bestseller and an instant classic. In a panoramic view encompassing twelve centuries of Arab history and culture, Hourani brilliantly illuminated the people and events that have fundamentally shaped the Arab world.Now this seminal book is available in an expanded second edition. Noted Islamic scholar Malise Ruthven brings the story up to date from the mid-1980s, including such events as the Gulf War; civil unrest in Algeria; the change of leadership in Syria, Morocco, and Jordan; and the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001.The terrorist attacks in the United States, ongoing crisis in Iraq, and renewed violence between Israelis and Palestinians all underscore the need for a balanced and well-informed understanding of the Arab world, and make this insightful history of the Arab peoples more important than ever.

Author Notes

Albert Hourani was Emeritus Fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford. He died in 1993

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

This timely study covers much of the same territory as Lapidus' History of Islamic Societies [BKL Je 1 88], although Hourani restricts his account to the Arabic-speaking Islamic world. The author begins his narrative with a brief consideration of the evolution of the Arab people before Muhammad's time and then relates the development of both the religious and the temporal empires across the Middle East, northern Africa, and parts of Europe. Hourani takes into account both Muslim traditions and current scholarly research to show how Islam eventually became the dominant religion among the Arab people, and to discuss the emergence of the several important Muslim sects. Along with these religious matters, the book covers social and cultural developments and provides a political history of ruling dynasties in many Arab countries over the centuries. Of course, much interest will center on the coverage of the role of Islamic fundamentalism and current issues in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Here Hourani gives a number of insights into conditions within the various Arab countries, their relationships within the Arab world, and their growing role on an international level. Maps, bibliography, glossary, and notes appended. ~--John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hourani examines Arabic-speaking nations of the Islamic world from the seventh century to the present in a volume that spent 12 weeks on PW 's bestseller list and was a History Book Club main selection. Illustrated. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hourani (Emeritus Fellow, St. Anthony's College, Oxford) is the author of several well-known books on the Middle East, including Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1983) and The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (Univ. of California Pr., 1980). This work, the first full-scale single-volume history of the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Islamic world in several decades, begins with Islam's rise in the 7th century and carries the rich and imposing story of Arab civilization to the late 1980s. In broad, sweeping strokes, Hourani moves easily from mosque to marketplace, from sultan to imam , from nomad to city-dweller, from Mohammed to Sadat. He dwells on the Ottoman Empire and on the European colonialism that followed, and concludes with a discussion of the modern resurgence of Islam that offers hope to thousands of Muslims and appears so threatening to Westerners. Written by a master historian, this work is now the definitive study of the Arab peoples. Recommended for interested laypersons and scholars; required reading for all specialists.-- Roger B. Beck, Eastern Illinois Univ., Charleston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

No existing introduction to the Arab world approaches the clarity, balance, and coherence of this new cultural history. Among the very foremost of contemporary Arabists, Hourani synthesizes a wealth of scholarship to survey the 14 centuries of Middle Eastern history since the rise of Islam. He devotes nearly 30 of his text to portraying the Arab-Islamic culture that took shape from the 11th to the 15th centuries. Given the author's earlier scholarly work, his emphasis on the development of political and philosophical ideas is a natural one. His treatment of the details of political history is somewhat spare, but he cannot be faulted for neglecting social and economic matters. Indeed, his analysis of the relationships between cities and hinterlands is model social history. Such analysis is a sound basis for the focus in the second half of the book on the changes wrought by the Ottoman Empire, the challenge posed to the Middle East by the European powers, and the rise of the modern Arab states. Photos complement the text, and the maps, genealogies, and dynastic lists are useful reference tools for digging in such rich historical earth. All levels. -L. M. Lewis, Eastern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xvii
Author's Notep. xix
Prologuep. 1
Part I The Making of a World (Seventh-Tenth Century)
1 A New Power in an Old Worldp. 7
The world into which the Arabs camep. 7
The language of poetryp. 12
Muhammad and the appearance of Islamp. 14
2 The Formation of an Empirep. 22
The succession to Muhammad: the conquest of an empirep. 22
The caliphate of Damascusp. 25
The caliphate of Baghdadp. 32
3 The Formation of a Societyp. 38
The end of political unityp. 38
A unified society: the economic basesp. 43
Unity of faith and languagep. 46
The Islamic worldp. 54
4 The Articulation of Islamp. 59
The questions of authorityp. 59
The power and justice of Godp. 62
The shari'ap. 65
The Traditions of the Prophetp. 69
The path of the mysticp. 72
The path of reasonp. 75
Part II Arab Muslim Societies (Eleventh-Fifteenth Century)
5 The Arab Muslim Worldp. 83
States and dynastiesp. 83
Arabs, Persians and Turksp. 87
Geographical divisionsp. 89
Muslim Arabs and othersp. 96
6 The Countrysidep. 98
Land and its usep. 98
Tribal societiesp. 104
7 The Life of Citiesp. 109
Markets and citiesp. 109
The city populationp. 111
Law and the 'ulamap. 113
Slavesp. 116
Muslims and non-Muslims in the cityp. 117
Women in the cityp. 119
The shape of the cityp. 122
Houses in the cityp. 125
The chain of citiesp. 128
8 Cities and Their Rulersp. 130
The formation of dynastiesp. 130
The alliance of interestsp. 133
Control of the countrysidep. 137
Ideas of political authorityp. 141
9 Ways of Islamp. 147
The Pillars of Islamp. 147
The friends of Godp. 152
10 The Culture of the 'Ulamap. 158
The 'ulama and the shari'ap. 158
The transmission of learningp. 163
Kalamp. 166
Al-Ghazalip. 167
11 Divergent Paths of Thoughtp. 172
Islam of the philosophersp. 172
Ibn 'Arabi and theosophyp. 176
Ibn Taymiyya and the Hanbali traditionp. 179
The development of Shi'ismp. 181
Jewish and Christian learningp. 186
12 The Culture of Courts and Peoplep. 189
Rulers and patronsp. 189
Poetry and storyp. 193
Musicp. 197
Understanding the worldp. 199
Part III The Ottoman Age (Sixteenth-Eighteenth Century)
13 The Ottoman Empirep. 209
The limits of political powerp. 209
Ottoman governmentp. 214
The Ottomans and Islamic traditionp. 220
Government in the Arab provincesp. 225
14 Ottoman Societiesp. 231
Population and wealth in the empirep. 231
The Arab provincesp. 234
The culture of the Arab provincesp. 238
Beyond the empire: Arabia, the Sudan, Moroccop. 243
15 The Changing Balance of Power in the Eighteenth Centuryp. 249
Central and local authoritiesp. 249
Arab Ottoman society and culturep. 253
The world of Islamp. 256
Changing relations with Europep. 258
Part IV The Age of European Empires (1800-1939)
16 European Power and Reforming Governments (1800-1860)p. 265
The expansion of Europep. 265
The beginnings of European empirep. 268
Reforming governmentsp. 271
17 European Empires and Dominant Elites (1860-1914)p. 279
The limits of independencep. 279
The partition of Africa: Egypt and the Maghribp. 282
The alliance of dominant interestsp. 285
Control of the landp. 287
The condition of the peoplep. 292
The dual societyp. 295
18 The Culture of Imperialism and Reformp. 299
The culture of imperialismp. 299
The rise of the intelligentsiap. 302
The culture of reformp. 304
The emergence of nationalismp. 308
The continuity of Islamic traditionp. 311
19 The Climax of European Power (1914-1939)p. 315
The supremacy of Great Britain and Francep. 315
The primacy of British and French interestsp. 320
Immigrants and the landp. 322
The growth of the indigenous elitep. 324
Attempts at political agreementp. 328
20 Changing Ways of Life and Thought (1914-1939)p. 333
Population and the countrysidep. 333
Life in the new citiesp. 336
The culture of nationalismp. 340
Islam of the elite and the massesp. 345
Part V The Age of Nation-States (Since 1939)
21 The End of the Empires (1939-1962)p. 353
The Second World Warp. 353
National independence (1945-1956)p. 356
The Suez crisisp. 365
The Algerian warp. 369
22 Changing Societies (1940s and 1950s)p. 373
Population and economic growthp. 373
The profits of growth: merchants and landownersp. 379
The power of the statep. 381
Rich and poor in the cityp. 384
23 National Culture (1940s and 1950s)p. 389
Problems of educationp. 389
Language and self-expressionp. 392
Islamic movementsp. 397
24 The Climax of Arabism (1950s and 1960s)p. 401
Popular nationalismp. 401
The ascendancy of Nasirismp. 407
The crisis of 1967p. 411
25 Arab Unity and Disunity (since 1967)p. 416
The crisis of 1973p. 416
The predominance of American influencep. 419
The interdependence of Arab countriesp. 423
Arab disunityp. 426
26 A Disturbance of Spirits (since 1967)p. 434
Ethnic and religious divisionsp. 434
Rich and poorp. 436
Women in societyp. 439
A heritage and its renewalp. 442
The stability of regimesp. 447
The fragility of regimesp. 453
Afterword 2002p. 459
Mapsp. 473
Genealogies and Dynastiesp. 497
The Family of the Prophetp. 499
The Shi'i Imamsp. 500
The Caliphsp. 501
Important Dynastiesp. 503
Ruling Families in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuryp. 505
Notesp. 508
Bibliographyp. 514
Index of Termsp. 544
General Indexp. 547