In God's Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire

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Oxford University Press, Oct 1, 2014 - History - 272 pages
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 flung 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 has perplexed historians for centuries. Most accounts of the Arab invasions have been based almost solely on the early Muslim sources, which were composed centuries later to illustrate the divinely chosen status of the Arabs. Robert Hoyland's groundbreaking new history assimilates not only the rich biographical information of the early Muslim sources but also the many non-Arabic sources, contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous with the conquests. In God's Path begins with a broad picture of the Late Antique world prior to the Prophet's arrival, a world dominated by two superpowers: Byzantium and Sasanian Persia. In between these empires, emerged a distinct Arabian identity, which helped forge the inhabitants of western Arabia into a formidable fighting force. The Arabs are the principal actors in this drama yet, as Hoyland shows, the peoples along the edges of Byzantium and Persia--the Khazars, Bulgars, Avars, and Turks--all played critical roles in the remaking of the old world order. The new faith propagated by Muhammad and his successors made it possible for many of the conquered peoples to join the Arabs in creating the first Islamic Empire. Well-paced, comprehensive, and eminently readable, In God's Path presents a sweeping narrative of a transformational period in world history.

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User Review  - ajdeus - LibraryThing

In God’s Path does not meet expectations Hoyland is among very few that approach the formation of the Islamic world as unbiased and systematic as one could in a subject matter that is inflamed with ... Read full review

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User Review  - DavidWineberg - LibraryThing

To counter the almost universal impression that Arab armies swept over the Mediterranean and out to central Asia like a cloud and virtually overnight created an Islamic empire, Robert Hoyland has done ... Read full review


Chapter Two THE FIRST BATTLES 630640
Chapter Three EASTWARD AND WESTWARD 640652
Chapter Five THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD 685715
Sources and Source Critical Remarks
Genealogical Tables of Quraysh and the Umayyads
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About the author (2014)

Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, Robert G. Hoyland is the author of Arabia and the Arabs.

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