Students learn about the early history and culture of Islam by traveling back in time to the seven great Muslim cities of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance—Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Baghdad, Cordoba, Cairo, and Istanbul. The story begins in Arabia and traces the life and teachings of Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. As the world of Islam expands, Damascus and later Baghdad become the heart of the caliphate. The Golden Age of scientific discovery that is launched in Baghdad's House of Wisdom is rekindled two centuries later in the bustling Muslim metropolis of Cordoba. Meanwhile, Cairo grows from a small royal enclave to a world famous center of Islamic religious studies. After the Ottoman Turks conquer the city of Constantinople in 1543, they establish a major empire that sprawls across three continents and has a major influence upon Western civilization. Islam has entered the modern age.
As the story unfolds, the student learns about the major components of Muslim culture, including the origins of the Quran and its role in the daily lives of Muslim people, the rituals and practices of the faith, the Five Pillars of Islam, the design of a mosque and the evolution of Islamic art and architecture, and the rationale and development of Islamic law. The historical setting provides clear explanations of such complex contemporary issues as the split between Sunni and Shi'ite, the wearing a veil and the role of women in Muslim society, and the meaning of "jihad."
The story of Islam is a long and dramatic tale. Its huge cast of characters includes prophets, caliphs, merchants, warriors, imams, poets, sultans, calligraphers, sufis, concubines, scholars, carpet weavers, and so many more. It is an illuminating story, one that needs to be told now more than ever as Muslims play an increasingly profound role in the global community.
Included are numerous maps, a detailed timeline, an annotated list of the major characters in Islamic history, a glossary, and numerous suggested references and resources.
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