By Holt, P. M
First released in 1970, The Cambridge background of Islam is a so much entire and bold collaborative survey of Islamic heritage and civilization. On ebook it used to be welcomed as a piece worthy either for reference and analyzing, for the final reader, scholar and professional alike. It has now been reprinted, with corrections, and for ease of dealing with the unique hardcover volumes have every one been divided into separate paperbacks
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Extra info for The Cambridge history of Islam. 2.B: Islamic society and civilization
We cannot dissociate from this setting the part played by the merchants and traders of every kind, or even the urban artisans, all representatives of those activities which in Muslim eyes ranked highest and deserved most merit. Islam spread along the caravan and sea routes; the web of commercial relations among the towns formed the framework for its progress. It spread throughout the interior of the vanquished countries, where the towns with peculiar speed and intensity made themselves centres for the missionary effort from which Islam spread slowly through the neighbouring countryside.
Similarly on its African frontier, Islam has been able at times to appear productive of agricultural progress, in view of the relatively fixed way of life which it recommends instead of the shifting cultivation of burnt clearings typical of the inter-tropical zone; and in view of the influence of agrarian sects like the Murids of Senegal whose collective discipline has worked wonders and has been responsible for great developments, notably in ground-nut growing. But this attraction to the soil is quite exceptional, and specific only to Negro Islam; this preference for agriculture has 1 Weulersse, Paysans dt Sj/rie it du Procht-Orient (Paris, 1946), 121.
It had free play only in one direction. The Mediterranean acted like a great moat dug to separate the two religions and reduced to a minimum any human exchange between the two shores. Quite soon Muslim urban life in this area was unable to attract the swiftly progressing Christian world. In the end, the powers ofresistance of the Christian peasant communities, supporting a stubborn political reconquest, destroyed, or at least considerably reduced, the Muslim urbanized settlements established by the Islamic powers in the Balkan and Iberian peninsulas.
The Cambridge history of Islam. 2.B: Islamic society and civilization by Holt, P. M