Arabic/Islamic Culture Bibliography,
copyright 1998 by Historical Novelists
Islam has considerably more adherents than
Christianity, all around the world, so one cannot exactly speak
of Islamic culture. This bibliography concentrates on the periods
and eras of the Islamic empires of the Mideast, which spread
as far west as Spain and eastwards as the Mogul Empire of India,
not to mention into Central Asia.
We hope people using this bibliography will
come to a greater realization that Islam is not Islamacism, and
that many practices associated with 21st century Moslem countries
were unknown to and even condemned by the Prophet Mohammed, PBUH.
To find historical Islam when the media is obsessed with the
rhetoric on both sides of Islamacism is difficult. Good luck.
Koran (al-Qu'ran) *****!
- You read this first. After that you can start
to tell religion from culture. It is the recorded teachings of
the Prophet, PBUH, as remembered by many persons after his death.
It is not the writing of the Prophet directly, nor his transcription
of something divinely shown him, both of which legends are commonly
mistaken for fact, apparently confusing him with the prophet
Smith of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. T1
20,000 Years of Fashion: The History
of Costume and Personal Adornment ***
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Covers both Persian and Turkish costume, especially as it impacts
Burckhardt, John Lewis
- Travels In Arabia;
Comprehending an Account of Those Territories in Hedjaz which
the Mohammedans Regard as Sacred
- Description and travel in the Arabian Peninsula
will give you incidents that may happen to your character.
- Travels in Syria
and the Holy Land
- More description from this 19th C traveller.
Burton, Richard Francis, Sir
- Personal Narrative
of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah - Volume 1
- Personal Narrative
of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah - Volume 2
David, Nicolle, Ph.D.
- The Moors: The Islamic West 7th-15th
Centuries AD <sic> (Men-At-Arms, 348)***
Osprey Pub Co; 2001
- Excellent details on organization versus
the European warrior of the time, as well as the hardware. T2
Treasures of Islam ****
Artline, 400 pg
A wide range of Islamic art and design, from the 7th to 19th
- Arab Historians of the Crusades ***
- Barnes & Noble; orig. 1957, trans. 1969;
362 pgs; index
- Extracts from seventeen sources over the
centuries give various Arabic/Turkish views of their own leaders
and Frankish invaders. T2
Gardiner, Robert (Editor)
- The Earliest Ships: The Evolution of
Boats into Ships ****
- Naval Institute Press; 1996; Hardcover, 143pp.;
- The temporally earliest volume of Conway's
History of the Ship. Like the others, picture-rich, but a collection
of articles by different hands sometimes leaves holes. It also
has some things others don't. Covers the ancient Mediterranean,
the early Central European, early NW European, Norse, and "Oriental"
(Arabic and Chinese) traditions. Especially enjoy "Problems
of Reconstruction and the Estimation of Performance." Note
that everything is covered in less than 130 pages. T1
Glubb, J. B.
The Great Arab Conquests ***
Barnes & Noble
Covers the initial eruption out of Arabia, to 680 CE. T2
von Grunebaum, G. E.
Classical Islam: A History, 600-1258
Barnes & Noble
A good basic history for the development of Islamic empire and
its interrelationship with Christian Europe. T1
Halder, Syed Zafar
Islamic Arms and Armour of Muslim India
Bahadur Publishers, Lahore, c1991; 309 pgs., bibliographical
Excellent reference. T2
Hourani, George Fadlo & John Carswell
- Arab Seafaring*****!
- Princeton University Press; 1995 Expanded
ed; Paperback, 1st ed., 140pp.; Bibliography, index
- Focuses on Arab (not necessarily Muslim)
seafaring in the Indian Ocean, not the Mediterranean, but much
of the information crosses over, and one section is specifically
Mediterranean, just as it also covers the African and Chinese
trade. Runs from the Classical period BC through the tenth century
CE. The section on the ships themselves covers the development
of stitched planking and the fore-n-aft lateen rig to replace
square sails. Lots of wonderful detail on ports and day-to-day
life, besides shipwrecks, for the novelist to acquire. T2
The Medieval Warhorse from Byzantium
to the Crusades ****
Sutton Publishing Ltd., London, 1994; index and bibliography
Actually through the Crusades, and she covers the Islamic
horses and horse care very well -- as one might expect from someone
who runs Arab horses in endurance races. T2
- The War Horse: 1250-1600****
- Sutton, 1998; 250 pgs, index, glossay
- Well illustrated, well researched, but the
writing is very dry and dull, not at all like the earlier volume.
Very possibly this is because it seems all research and no experimentation,
as well as larded with entirely extraneous author prejudices
(we don't care if she thinks Henry VIII was "fat and ineffectual,"
when it has nothing to do with the subject under discussion).
Good information on the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Moghuls,
but after eagerly reading other books by the same author this
was astonishingly difficult to drag through. Staying anywhere
more than a few pages was onerous. Only go here if you have to.
People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference
Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial
Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997;
613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
Nice big chapter on Arabic naming practices, sizeable pick-lists,
the 99 Names of God, and notes on various groups that use Arabic
nomenclature. Splits out Islamic usage in India and Swahili,
South Arabia: Arena of Conflict YY
Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, NY, 1968; 196 pg, index, "Short
Bibliography," 3 maps
Primarily about the emergence from British rule, the opening
chapter recaps ancient and medieval history, with the tribal
names, so you know which ones to hunt in other sources. T1
Nicolle, David, Ph.D.
Saracen Faris, 1100-1250 A.D.[sic] *****!
Osprey Warrior Series, Reed International Books Ltd., London;
illustrated by Christa McHook; no index; bibliography of English-language
Excellent, info-packed 64 pages with superb illustrations and
a good map or two. Unbeatable for the detail on weaponry, tack,
and costume. Worth every penny. T2
Osprey Military Books
The worst book out by Osprey still gets three
stars. The best are five stars and a bang. These are each a dense,
military monograph on weapons, tactics, strategy, and history,
with some little cultural background. Rarely at libraries, you
will usually find these where military miniatures are sold. T2
- Armies of the Muslim Conquest; #255
- Armies of Islam 7th-11th Century; #125
- Saladin & the Saracens, #171
- The Mamluks 1250-1517
- Ottoman Turks 1200-1774, #140
The Meaning of the Glorious Koran *****!
Barnes & Noble, 464 pg
Christians always translate the Bible into the local language.
Muslims will always tell you that the Koran can only be really
understood in Arabic, which language converts learn into order
to study the Koran. This book may be the best way to approach
this center point of Islamic life without learning Arabic. T1
Qazi, Mohammed A.
What's in a Muslim Name ***
Kazi Publication, Chicago; 1990
Small book with big lists of personal names for those converting
to Islam, or who need to name the new baby, but there is no reference
to traditional rather than modern usage, or to eke-names. Also,
is very hung up on sexist differentiation of definitions of names:
a woman cannot be your "backer" she must be a "backeress,"
though many names are unisex. T1
Rice, David Talbot
Islamic Art ****
Wonderful introduction to the styles of pottery, metalwork, fabrics,
architecture and decorations like brickwork, stucco, mosaic,
and tile. Hunting palaces as well as mosques, tombs and city
Robinson, H. Russell
- Oriental Armour ****
- "Detailed, scholarly survey of defensive
armour used in the Middle East and Asia--from the scale armour
of ancient Egypt to Japanese "modern" armour of the
19th century. Over 300 line illustrations (largely the author's
own work) and over 100 photos depict armour of Persia, Turkey,
India, China, Ceylon, the Philippines, Korea, Tibet, and other
regions. A splendid overview of the decorative qualities and
crucial defensive features in a book that brings together much
previously inaccessible material." Better than Stone on
the subject. T2
Rodgers, William Ledyard
Naval Warfare Under Oars, 4th to 16th
Centuries; A Study of Strategy, Tactics and Ship Design ***
1940, 1967; now from Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1990;
358 pg, index; at the end of each chapter, Authorities Chiefly
Chap. II is "The Naval Wars with the Saracens" by the
Byzantines; other chapters carry forward to the Italian wars
with the Turks, like Lepanto. Orientation is European Christian,
but this will tell you what sort of ships were being used. One
of the only books we have found covering the Islamic navies of
the Mediterranean at all. T3
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda
- The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women
Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
Lists those who fought for and against Mohammed, P.B.U.H., and
defended the faith in later years, including the Mogul empires.
Lady Melisande refuses to dig to the very
back of her deep closets to get complete discographic materials
on her Middle Eastern LP collection, but provides the following
from her tapes of them. Many of these records did not list the
performers, and those are listed first. She is now back in the
groove and adding current CDs.
Evening by the Nile with Jodette ***
LP From a dance-teacher's supply catalog, this features Egyptian
How to Make Your Husband a Sultan, with
Özel Turkbas ****
I recommend this LP primarily because it highlights how very
different Turkish music is from Arabic music, even to the time
signatures. The belly dancers dress differently, too, preferring
the "ruffled curtain" skirt and hand covers.
Middle Eastern Modern Music Instrumental
Cheapo cover on this LP, but good music inside.
Music & Melodies of the Arab World,
Egypt (U.A.R.) *****!
LP An all-time favorite, which may have been on Nonesuch, but
don't bet anything important on that. Very authentic, all non-western
The Music of Morocco *****!
Cheikh el Afrite
LP This is definitely from Nonesuch, and is recorded live in
Morocco. There are street musicians in town, then a Berber folk
music festival recorded up in the mountains. Exceedingly atmospheric
and authentic. I will be replacing this with "Apocalypse
Across the Sky" CD for Berber music.
Succes de Cheikh el Afrite ****
LP from France of a Moroccan pop group that shows how the ancient
sound persists in everyday life. LP
Baghdad Cabaret ***
This LP includes a long dancer's cut, but many shorter songs
in the Iranian style. LP
Port Said *****!
LP All Egyptian songs, not a dancer's record, robust and appealing
delivery by a performer who was once almost the only Middle Eastern
musician available in regular stores.
Music of the African Arab *****!
Musicians of the Nile
LP These songs have their own distinctive rhythmic base, from
west and south of Egypt, and do not sound quite Middle Eastern
to the sensitive ear.
Charcoal Gypsies *****!
Pure music from lively to lachrymose. One the most accessible
current CDs, without going to Arabic groove. I think the Egyptian
style "translates" better to the Western ear than Berber
or Classical Persian, or the odd time signatures of Turkish.
From Luxor to Isna ****
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Roger
Has an odd cut of the sound of a horse going by. Also has a super
dumbek solo. CD
Bandit Queen ****
Ramzy, Hossam, and his Egyptian
This is the soundtrack from the movie. Nusrat is a leading performer
of Qawwali, "Islamic devotional music intended to elevate
the spirit and bring both the performer and listener closer to
God." White handles traditional instruments so as to make
the music highly accessible to a first-time Western listener.
Wonderful music to write to with a wide range of emotions from
desperate to playful, often lyric and melancholy. CD
Best of Om Kolthoum ***
Ramzy takes songs made famous by various singers
and does them as instrumentals with a strong dance flavour (which
many have begin with). I got this one because "Enta Omri"
was one of my favorites from "Music & Melodies of the
Arab World, Egypt (U.A.R.)," above. Unlike Vali or the French
LP, Ramzy is entirely authentic in his sound. Of his other albums
in his series, do what I'm doing and pick at random: you can't
really go wrong. The booklet includes English translation of
the lyrics that went with the music! CD
Live from the Fez ***
LP from a cabaret featuring belly dancers in LA, but notable
for its variety of songs. I was told this was primarily Lebanese.
Let's Belly Dance **
LP All instrumental, with clarinet lead giving it that urban,
Belly Dance Naval Academy ***
Two LP's of the same, boxed with the book, The Compleat Belly
Dancer which is modern and American, but better than nothing.
Ancient World Web *****!
Superb linksite, which it would be silly to
try and duplicate here. Especially fine for including Asian,
American, and African sections, not just Europe and the Near
- Leave for the Ancient World Web
Costumes of the Levant ****
Photographic overview of historical Lebanese,
Syrian, Bedouin and Kurdish clothing.
El Legado Andalus/The Legacy of Al-Andalus
Just to warn you off. Also known as "Arab
World in Spain," this is a site to promote historical tourism
in Andalusia. No info for us. Of course, if you are planning
on travelling there to see the Alhambra, by all means check in
with these people so you don't miss the lesser-known sites and
all the museum exhibits. The opening is a single huge detailed
- Link intentionally omitted
H-GIG Historical Times & Places
A thorough-going linksite maintained by the
University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by
era (ancient, Medieval, early Modern, Modern, and 20th C), or
by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place to start
a hunt for books and essays online.
Historical Islamic Maps*****!
Includes maps of: the Umayyad Caliphate in
the Second Half of the 9th and the Second Half of the 10th Centuries;
the Empire of Sultan Salah Al-Din (1171-1193); the Crusaders'
Principalities in Syria and Palestine; Spain in the 13th and
14th centuries. The Reconquest by the Christian Kingdoms of the
North. The Kingdom of Granada; Spain after the Fall of the Umayyad
Caliphate in the Periods of the Party Kings and of the Almoravids;
the Growth of the Ottoman Empire From the Early 14th Century
Till 1512; Ottoman Sultanate in the 16th and 17th Centuries;
the Later Timurid Period; and Map of Safawid Persia in the 16th
and 17th Centuries; Muslim East in the First Half of the 13th
Century; Muslim Expansion in the West in the Umayyad Period (661-750);
Muslim Expansion until A.D. 661; Umayyad Empire c.A.D.750; Late
Abbasid Caliphate c.A.D.900; Almoravid, Saldjuk, and Ghaznavid
Expansion c.A.D. 1100; the Muslim World c.A.D. 1300 & c.A.D.
Internet Islamic History Sourcebook
Halsall is collecting texts in translation,
and also providing links to other sites like Berkeley, so as
not to duplicate effort. Covers from pre-Islamic Arabia and Persia
to the modern day.
Women in Islam Versus Women in the
Wonderfully researched comparison of the position
of women in the culture of traditional Christianity, Biblical
Judaism, and Quranic Islam. What this says about the disobedience
of modern Islamicists to the intentions of the Prophet (pbuh)
is significant. This should definitely adjust your early and
medieval Moslem portrayals. As the author writes in his epilogue,
"The non-Islamic status of women in the Muslim world today
is merely a symptom of a deeper malady. Any reform in the current
status of Muslim women is not expected to be fruitful if not
accompanied with more comprehensive reforms of the Muslim societies'
whole way of life. The Muslim world is in need for a renaissance
that will bring it closer to the ideals of Islam and not further
from them. To sum up, the notion that the poor status of Muslim
women today is because of Islam is an utter misconception. The
problems of Muslims in general are not due to too much attachment
to Islam, they are the culmination of a long and deep detachment
of Middle-Tech Skills
of Late Antiquity
of Migration Ages Europe
of Medieval Europe
of Sub-Saharan Africa
to Times and Places: Classical Islam