THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Akbar S. Ahmed. Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society. London and New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988. x + 215pp.£ 25.00 (Hardback).
This book is a personalized search by the author for a reconciliation between the “Islamic ideal” and the vast variety of ethnically, economically, politically and socially diverse muslim societies the world over. The research is conducted with reference to “six socia-historical categories”, which constitute for the author “a theory of Islamic History”. These are: 1. the time of the Prophet and the ideal caliphs (Le., the fIrst four caliphs called Rashidun); 2. the Arab dynasties (meaning the Umayyads and the Abbasids); 3. the three muslim empires (or the Ottomans, the Saffavids and the Mughals); 4. Islam of the periphery (referring to societies in which muslims are in minority, nameiy, the USSR, China, Southeast Asia and South of the Sahara in Africa); 5. Islam under European rule (Le., under the impact of colonization by England, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy on ”muslim society”); and 6. contemporary Islam. (p. 33).