Arab history

Pre-Islamic Arabia

The original Arab, the Bedouin
by Philip K Hitti (from "The Arabs: A Short History")

Ancient accounts of Arabia
(from the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook)

Herodotus, c. 430 BCE
Strabo, c. 22 CE
Dio Cassius, c. 220 CE
Ammianus Marcellinus, c. 380 CE
Procopius of Caesarea, c. 550 CE

Pre-Islamic Arabic culture
The desert origins of the Arabs, by Richard Hooker

Byzantium and the Arabs in the Fifth Century
by Irfan Shahid (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington DC)

The birth of Islam

Muhammad, The Prophet of Allah
by Philip K. Hitti (from "The Arabs: A Short History")

by Maxime Rodinson (Pantheon Books, 1980)

Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman
by Montgomery Watt (Oxford University Press, 1961)

Meccan trade and the rise of Islam
by Patricia Crone (from "The Rise of Islam", Princeton University Press, 1987)

and the origins of Islam, by Richard Hooker

Selections from the "Life of Muhammad"
Ibn Ishaq (died c.773 CE):

Islamic expansion

The Battle of Badr 624 CE
This was the first battle between believers and unbelievers, and it is still the most famous in Islamic history.

Battle of Badr (Wikipedia)

New light on the story of the Banu Qurayza and the Jews of Medina
by W N Arafat (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1976)

The Battle of Yarmuk (636 CE) and after
An account by al-Baladhuri (d. c. 892) of the battle against the Byzantine army which delivered Syria to the Muslim. [Internet Islamic Sourcebook]

The Arab conquest of Egypt 642 CE
Two accounts - a Coptic version from "The History of The Patriarchs of Alexandria" and an Arab version from Al-Baladhuri's "The Conquest of Alexandria" [Internet Medieval Sourcebook]

Tribe and state in Arabia
by Fred Donner (from "The Early Islamic Conquests", Princeton University Press, 1981)

Byzantium confronted by Islam
by Judith Herrin (from "The Formation of Christendom", Princeton University Press, 1987)

The Pact of Umar (7th century)
Dealing with the status of non-Muslims under Muslim rule. Alternative version.

The early caliphate

The "Rightly-Guided" Caliphs
(Oxford Islamic Studies Online)

Abu Bakr (632-634 CE)
'Umar (634-644 CE)
'Uthman (644-656 CE)
'Ali (656-661 CE)

The Caliphate
The early patriarchal caliphs, by Richard Hooker

The Shi'a
Origins of the Sunni-Shi'a schism, by Richard Hooker

Umayyads and Abbasids

The golden age of Arab and Islamic culture
by Gaston Wiet. From "Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate", University of Oklahoma Press

Baghdad under the Abbasids
(c.1000 CE)
A contemporary description of the city in its heyday

Civil war and the Umayyads
From the death of the Prophet to the end of the Ummayad Dynasty (661-750 CE). By Richard Hooker

The Abbasid Dynasty (750 to 1258 CE)
by Richard Hooker

Law and justice
by J. Schact, Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Islam

Tales of the Caliphs
(c.940 CE)
Anecdotes from the Book of Golden Meadows by the early historian, Abul Hasan Ali Al-Masu'di.

The Experiences of the Nations
(c. 980 CE)
A question of succession in the Abbasid court. By Ibn-Miskawaih

Towards a history of Aleppo and Damascus in the early Middle Ages (635-1260 CE)
by Professor R. Stephen Humphreys, University of California at Santa Barbara. (Lecture at the University of Kyoto, 29 October 1997)

Islam in Europe

In 711, Tariq ibn Ziyad, at the head of a mainly Berber army, began the conquest of Spain and, by 733, the Muslims had reached as far north as Poitiers in France. This marked the start of a period of Islamic rule which continued until the fall of Granada in 1492 - the year that Columbus arrived in America. Many reminders of this period can still be found in the Iberian peninsula, including the name of Gibraltar (Jabal Tariq - "the mountain of Tariq").

The Islamic conquest of Spain
An account by Ibn Abd al-Hakim, and Egyptian who died in 870 or 871. From "History of the Conquest of Spain", translated by John Harris Jones (Kaestner, Gottingen, 1858)

Tarik's address to his soldiers, 711 CE
Al-Maggari's account. Quoted by Charles F. Horne (ed), "The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East", (Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York, 1917)

The Battle of Poitiers (or Tours), 732 CE
Anonymous Arab chronicler
The defeat of Abd al-Rahman by the Franks halted the Muslims' northward advance. Some historians regard it as a turning point in world history and Gibbon even suggested that if the Muslims had won Oxford would have become a city of minarets rather than spires. A more modern view is that the Muslims were not much interested in the north (they disliked the weather) but victory at Poitiers might have led them to conquer Italy. Three more accounts of the battle.

Columbus: What if ... ?
by Aileen Vincent-Barwood
The fact that the discovery of America coincided with the end of Islamic rule in Spain provides fertile ground for historical speculation. Is it possible that Christopher Columbus greeted the inhabitants of the New World with the words: "As-salaamu alaykum"?

Ibn Rushd's criticisms of the theologians’ arguments for the existence of God
Dr Ibrahim Y. Najjar discusses "the appealing audacity" of Ibn Rushd (Averroes)

The Crusades

History of the Crusades
Probably the best introduction to the Crusades is this on-line course developed by Dr E L Skip Knox at Boise State University, Idaho. It covers the following topics:

The major Crusades

General histories

Other Crusades and topics

A brief account of the Crusades
From Muslims on Line

A Christian-Muslim debate (12th Century)

Usamah Ibn Munqidh (1095-1188)
Usamah was a Muslim warrior and courtier, who fought against the Crusaders with Saladin. This extract from his authobiography, written around 1175, discusses the Franks.

Licence to Venice to trade with the Saracens (1198)
Pope Innocent III

The Assassins
by Philip K. Hitti. From: "The Book of Grass: An Anthology on Indian Hemp", edited by George Andrews and Simon Vinkenoog.

The Crusade of St. Louis
An Arab account by al-Makrisi. From: "The Road to Knowledge of the Return of Kings", in "Chronicles of the Crusades", Henry G. Bohn (ed), London, 1848

Medieval accounts of Salah al-Din's recovery of Jerusalem
by Hadia Dajani-Shakeel. From: Hisham Nashabe (ed) "Studia Palaestina: Studies in honour of Constantine K. Zurayk", Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut 1988.

Fatimids and Mamluks

The ruling circles
by Yacov Lev.
From "State and Society in Fatimid Egypt", E J Brill, Leiden, 1991

Turks and Ottomans

The Turkish Irruption
by J J Saunders. From "A History of Medieval Islam", Routledge, London

A Survey of the Turkish Empire
by Sir William Eton, 1799

Proclamation for the Ottoman Empire
The Young Turks, 1908

The age of imperialism

Islamic law and Western imperialism
Jane F. Collier examines the historical processes that constructed a cultural opposition between the supposed rule of law in the West and imagined religious fanaticism in the East. From Law & Society Review 28.2 (1994).

The story of the Suez Canal
From "All the Year Round", January 8, 1876

Why Britain acquired Egypt in 1882
Explanation by the Earl of Cromer (first British Viceroy of Egypt), dated 1908

Declaration Between the United Kingdom and France Respecting Egypt and Morocco
April 8, 1904

Letter to Ali ibn Hussain (1915)
Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, wrote a series of 10 letters to Ali Ibn Hussain, Sherif of Mecca, during the First World War in the hope of attracting Arab support against the Turks. The implication was that after the war Britain would support an independent Arab state.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916)

T E Lawrence Studies
A website aboutT E Lawrence(1888-1935) – "Lawrence of Arabia"

Influence as Power
by Rich Stiller. An online book about Lawrence [PDF file]