‘In this collection, Roy Mottahedeh brings a uniquely rich and variegated scholarly perspective to the principal themes of Islamic history. The fruit of decades of travel, teaching, research, and deep personal engagement with modern Iran and the Middle East, these articles are as humane as they are learned, and as wise as they are trenchant. At a time when such humanity is greatly needed, they offer an unsurpassed entry into the many voices and approaches that have come together, over the centuries, to characterize the vast and varied tradition of Islam.’
In the Shadow of the Prophet
Essays in Islamic HistoryRoy P. Mottahedeh
In pieces drawn from over the course of his distinguished career, pre-eminent historian Roy Mottahedeh explores such diverse topics as the social bonds that connected people in the early Islamic Middle East, the transmission of learning in the Muslim world, religious and ethnic toleration in the past and in the present, and the theme of ‘wonders’ in The Thousand and One Nights. His essays extend from the early Islamic period through the medieval era and on to modern times. A number concern Iran, the country of his father’s birth, and again Mottahedeh’s studies range widely, including Persian panegyric poetry, the origins of the city of Kashan, and Shi‘ite political thought. Speaking to contemporary concerns, he also touches upon voting rights, academic freedom, and censorship.
Intended not only for those in Islamic studies but for students of history and interested lay readers, there are introductions to each section written with the non-specialist in mind, and these sections progress from more general topics to those more specialized. In the Shadow of the Prophet thus reflects Mottahedeh’s desire that the Islamic world and its history become better understood so that cooperation between Muslims and non-Muslims might become the order of the day.
‘Roy Mottahedeh has a knack for delving deep into the minutiae of sometimes esoteric scholarship on Islam and drawing from it the requisite lessons for understanding and explicating the complexities of the contemporary Islamic world. The erudite elegance of his discourse in this remarkable collection is the result of a long, prolific life dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of the many Islams in history.’
‘This book demonstrates its author’s impressive breadth and insight dealing with diverse aspects of premodern and modern Islamic history, religion, and culture. Roy Mottahedeh shows us the complexity of a civilizational experience over a millennium and highlights the place of Iranians in it. This is a timely contribution at a time when misperceptions abound. His delightful autobiography adds to the book’s appeal.’