04 December 2006

Islam in Central Asia

There have been some interesting comments about Islam in Central Asia. James posted about Khalid's book a couple of weeks ago at neweurasia and Nick mentioned a couple of resources: For Prophet and Tsar: Islam in Central Asia, Encyclopedia of Islam, Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge History of Iran, and Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tukles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition.

And since it was ambiguous below, when I referred to the dearth of books on Islam in Central Asia, I was referring to Islam during the Soviet years, and particularly in the last 15 years. And how Islam in Central Asia compares to Islam in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. Many non-Muslims have a rather monolithic image of Islam and I'd love to see even some popular nonfiction talking about the diversity within Islam.

Thanks so much for the suggestions.


  1. Interesting. I haven't learned as much as I should about Islam, and I'm sure it's variants from region to region are extremely interesting.

  2. I can't find the journal articles I mentioned. They were interesting, but not terribly earth-shattering.

    Anyhow, I've found the books that cover earlier Islamic practices in Central Asia to be the most illuminating regarding the differences between the region and other parts of the Islamic world. I particularly found passages of Ibn Battuta interesting because he points out differences between his Maliki practices and beliefs and those of his Central Asian Hanafi hosts. He disagrees with such things as the consumption of fermented millet beer, but he is not so terribly judgmental. He also mentions the existence of shrine worship, which is still extremely common, taking place at a time when many local tribes had only recently converted. It kind of handily shows some of the continuity between pre-Islamic and Islamic.

    But, these are only bits and pieces of his travelogue...

    In addition to some of the books mentioned already, there's also this way too expensive one. Some people think it's superb. I am not one of those people, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Here is a review. (If you're interested in a very critical review of it, email me and I'll send you one.)

    Though not a book, this is a pretty interesting thing to read on the subject.

    And by the by, I have a hardcover copy of DeWeese I no longer need that is for sale at Amazon. Seeing as they take a cut anyway, I'm willing to entertain side offers below my asking price :)

  3. Thanks Nathan. I really appreciate the suggestions.

  4. Hi, I actually meant this Encyclopedia of Islam, but as it's 12 vols in the 2nd edition, plus supplements, it's usually only found in libraries. Better still, find a library with an online subscription.

  5. Nick, I thought you might have meant that one, but Amazon didn't have a link for the whole thing. I'll look for the one you link to.