The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, Jul 3, 2008 - History - 339 pages
4 Reviews
Islam and the Crusades contains the autobiographical works of Usama ibn Munqidh, a twelfth-century Arab aristocrat. Full of detail, wit and melancholy, Usama's narrative anecdotes illustrate the inscrutability of God's will in life, as well as providing a memorable record of Islam's long encounter with the Crusaders, known to Usama only as the Franks. This edition focuses on the Book of Contemplation, but also uses extracts from the Book of the Staff and Kernels of Refinement to produce a complete and human portrayal of Islamic perspectives on a day-to-day existence, warfare, and the curious European invaders.
Paul M. Cobb's accessible translation is accompanied by an introduction that places Usama's writings in their historical and literary context, explains the poetry of his language and examines the divisions between Islamic sects at the time. This edition also contains maps, a chronology of the author's life, a family tree, suggested further reading and a glossary.

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades

User Review  - Richard White - Goodreads

Usama ibn Munqidh was a Muslim faris or cavalier from Northern Syria who experienced and wrote a great deal during the Crusades. His most famous work, The Book of Contemplation, survives as a rare ... Read full review

Review: The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades

User Review  - Rachel Cogswell - Goodreads

A great primary source written by Usamah who worked under Nur al-din and then later Saladin. He writes of a world where the first generation of crusaders have gotten used to living in the Near East ... Read full review

About the author (2008)

Usama ibn Munqidh was born on 4 July, 1095 in northern Syria. In the last decades of his life he concentrated on writing, collecting his scattered poems into a much-praised Diwan, but specialising in topical anthologies of poetry and prose like The Book of the Staff or Kernels of Refinement. Usama's last patron was the mighty sultan Saladin, to whom he intended his most famous work, the Book of Contemplation. He died in Damascus in 1188. Paul Cobb, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic History at the University of Pennsylvania, has been engaged on a long-term project involving Muslim views of the Crusades and the writings of Usama ibn Munqidh in particular.

Bibliographic information