In just over a hundred years—from the death of Muhammad in 632 to the beginning of the Abbasid Caliphate in 750—the followers of the Prophet swept across the whole of the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain. Their armies threatened states as far afield as the Franks in Western Europe and the Tang Empire in China. The conquered territory was larger than the Roman Empire at its greatest expansion, and it was claimed for the Arabs in roughly half the time. How this collection of Arabian tribes was able to engulf so many empires, states, and armies in such a short period of time is a question that has perplexed historians for centuries.
Publisher: OUP USA, Jan. 2015
Reviewer: Jim Murdoch
At a time now where the Arab world is ever becoming under the spotlight from the western civilization, isn’t it about time we were shown how the Islamic world came to be? In God’s Path is a study of Arab conquests and the creation of an Islamic empire up to AD 750. After the death of Muhammad in 632, followers of the prophet moved across the whole of the Middle-East, North Africa and Spain and in just over a hundred years. The amount of conquered land was larger than that of the Roman Empire at its greatest expansion. We learn, where once was thought, the Arabic Empire didn’t expand as rapidly as first thought and that not all battles were in the name of Islamic conversion. Growing up in the United Kingdom, we were taught in biblical studies, of monarchs rise and fall and of course the two great wars. So it’s unsurprising that to most, the thought of the Middle-East scares us, it’s a place packed with faith and history all very vague to us. So I picked this book up hoping to gain a better understanding of how this part of the world came to be, Author Robert G. Hoyland didn’t disappoint. The evidence largely speaks for itself, coupled with very fair views from Muslim and non-Muslim sources that create a balanced judgement on what may have happened with the rise of Islam. The book itself is fairly short, you are not engulfed with pages upon pages of information. It’s clear, yet descriptive nature kept me informed but interested, especially well-written for a novice to this field of expertise such as myself. If your reading to study this particular era in Arab history, the non-biased evidence will go a long way to helping you achieve a better well-rounded conclusion.