Armstrong provides a concise political and religious history of the Muslim world, beginning with the Qur'anic revelation to Muhammad in 610AD through the present day. She covers the early caliphate leaders of the 7th century and the first fitnah, which led to civil war in the Arab world. She discusses the role of the Umayyads in the second fitnah and the religious division between the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Sufis. The author uses the Abbasid period of the 8th and 9th centuries to show how the Muslim community used their faith to adapt to numerous political changes that ultimately crumbled the caliphate and ushered in the Sunni Iranian dynasty. The 14th century Crusades led to the Muslim subjugation to the Mongols, but prepared Muslims for the imperial Islam of the Ottoman Empire. Armstrong concludes by introducing the modern democracies of the Western world and their influence on Islam. She discusses the modern Islamic state and how Islamic perceptions of democracy differ from Western notions. The author also provides a clear definition of Muslim fundamentalism.
This report prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme