A Working Library on Islam

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A Working Library on Islam  (1912) 
by Samuel Marinus Zwemer
The Moslem World (External scan) January, 1912; Vol. II, No. 1

A WORKING LIBRARY ON ISLAM[edit]

The following list of books is intended as a guide for those who desire to make a thorough study of Islam and the Moslem problem from a missionary standpoint. It consists of a working library for those who are trying to fit themselves to deal with Moslems personally and to understand the Moslem mind so as to be able to meet them on their own ground, and in the apostolic sense, to become Moslems to Moslems that we may win them for Christ. The immense literature on the subject of Islam in the various languages of Europe and the Orient is perplexing to the beginner. There is an enormous bibliography on the subject, and present day interest in the scientific study of Islam, politically, socially and religiously, is as great as it ever was. In fact, the marked unrest of all Moslem peoples and the reform movements in Islam itself have stimulated literary production. It Avould require an expert in everj^ department of Islam to guide the student through this labyrinth of literature. Experts, therefore, will doubtless find much to correct and more to suggest in the list given. It is based on practical experience in a busy missionary's life. An omnivorous reader in the field of Islam soon finds that Bacon's words are true : " Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested ; that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention." The last named class are the only ones worth buying and studying. They form a working library. In the division of the subject I have received valuable suggestions from the recently published pamphlet by G. Simon, Wegweiser (lurch die Literatur der MoJiamme.danermission (Halle, 3911). The handbook named, however, is only an index to literature in the German language. While our list is intended primarily for the English reader, exceptions are inevitable. There are certain French and German works which are indis- pensable because the ground is not covered by EngHsh writers. The list is general in that it deals not with any particular country or any particular sect of Islam ; e.g., the missionary in Persia would need, in addition, to study the Shiah sect and Babism, while the missionary in Nigeria would read special works on the geography and history of that part of Africa as related to Islam.

I. General Works of Reference and Periodicals.[edit]

Of the greatest value to the student, although wTitten from an Indian standpoint and not altogether up-to-date, is Thomas Patrick Hughes' Dictionary of Islam (London : W. H. Allen and Company, 1885 ; reprinted later). This is an encyclopedia of the doctrines, rites, ceremonials and customs, together with the technical and theological terms of the Mohammedan religion. More recent and far more extensive is the Encyclopedia of Islam, a dictionary of the geography, etlinograph}^ and biography of Mohammedan peoples, prepared by a number of leading OrientaUsts and edited by M. T. Houtsma, T. W. Arnold and others. (London : Luzac and Co., 1911). Twelve parts have appeared; the whole work is to be completed in three volumes of fifteen parts each. The periodical literature on Moham- medanism is extensive, and important articles appear in all the leading missionary magazines. The three fol- lowing, however, deal with this subject specially : Revue du Monde 3Iustdman (Monthly ; Ernest Leroux, 28 Rue Bonaparte, Paris ; 25/- per year.) Der Islam (Quarterly ; Karl J. Triibner, Strassburg ; £1.) The Moslem World (Quarterly ; 35 John Street, Bedford Row, London ; 4/- per year.)

II. Pre-Islamic Arabia : the Sources of Islam.[edit]

A. P. Caussin de Perceval, Essai sur VHistoire des Arabes aimnt Vlslamisme, pendant VEpoque de Mahomet, et jusqu'd la Reduction de Unites les Tribus sous la Loi Musulmaine. (3 vols. Paris, 1902.) This is a reprint of the original edition of 1847, and is a mine of information on the subject ; generally reliable and authoritative. J. Wellhausen, Reste Arahischen Heidentwns. (Second edition. Berlin, 1897.) Critical essays on the idols, the Haj, and the ancient cult of the Arabs, with reference to their literature and the origin of Islam. Muir's Introduction to his " Life of Mahomet, in four volumes, condenses mucli of the material found in these two standard works, as does also George Sale in the Prelim- inary Discourse to his Koran translation. As a handbook on the sources of Islam there is nothing better than W. St. Clair TisdalFs, The Original Sources of the Koran (London : S.P.C.K., 1905). In addition to these the student should read Ignaz Goldziher's Mohammedanische Studien (2 vols. Halle, 1890), especially Volume I., which shows the relation between Arabian paganism and the rise of Islam.

III. Mohammed.[edit]

There are over a score of biographies of Mohammed in the English language alone, and an equal number in other European languages, not to speak of the mass of literature on this subject found in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Those who read German should secure A. Sprenger's Das Leben V7id die Lehre des Mohammed (3 vols. Berlin, 1865), and Gustav Weil's Das Leben Mohammed (2 vols. Stuttgart, 1864). For English readers a broad view of the whole subject will be obtained by comparing criticalty the following four books : Sir William Muir, Life of Mahomet (4 vols., Smith, Elder and Co., or in one volume, abridged 1894 London, 1858 ; S. W. Koelle, Mohaymned and Moham- medanism Critically Considered (Rivington, London, 1888) ; Ameer Ali, The Spirit of Islam ; or, The lAfe and Teachings of Mohammed (S. K. Lahiri and Co., Calcutta, 1902) ; and D. S. Margoliouth, Mohammed and the Rise of Islam (G. P. Putnam's Sons, London, 1905). The first book named is exhaustive and probably the most authoritative. The second is from a missionary' standpoint and shows Mohammed not only in the day- light of history, but in the moonshine of tradition and in contrast with Jesus Christ our Saviour. The book is somewhat one-sided. Ameer Ali has written perhaps the most clever, though unhistorical apology possible, for the life of the Prophet. The work of Margoliouth is recent and exceedingly valuable, especially as he gives chapter and verse in his abundant references to xA.rabic authors. The missionary^ should also secure, if possible, two standard lives of the Prophet in Arabic ; the earliest by Ihn Hisham (A.H., 218) based on Ibn Ishak (A.H., 151), was printed at Cairo in A.H., 1295. The other, in three volumes, is more popular and contains a mass of later tradition. It is by Ah Ibn Burhan-ud-Din el Halebi, and is entitled Insan el Ayoon (Cairo, A.H., 1308).

IV. The Koran.[edit]

The best edition in Arabic is stiU that of Fluegel (Leipzig 1834 and later, especially the revised publication of Fluegel' s edition by Redslob, Leipzig 1837). Some Tvdll prefer the Cairo or Constanti- nople editions. Most of those published in India contain numerous typographical errors and are badly printed. A polyglot version, however, is published at Delhi in Arabic, Persian and L^rdu, interlinear, which is most useful. Of translations into English that of Sale (Wame and Co., London ; Chandos Classics) is stiU valuable for its notes and paraphrase of difficult passages; Rodwell's (Everyman Library, J. M. Dent and Co., London) for chronological order, and Palmer's (Sacred Books of the East, Vols. VI. and IX. Oxford, Qarendon Press, 1880), for idiomatic translation. Among commentaries in Eng- lish there is nothing better than E. M. Wherry's Commentary on the Quran (4 vols. Triibner and Co., London, 1886). The best Arabic commentaries for reference are the two volume editions of El Beidhawi (Cairo) and that of El Zamakhshari (Cairo). The latter deals mth grammatical points ; the former is best for exegesis. For a critical study of the text the student will find T. Noldeke's Geschichte des Qurans (Gottingen, Verlag der Dieterichsehen Buchhandlung, 1860) or E. ^ll's Historical Development of the Quran (S.P.C.K., Madras, 1898) indispensable.

V. The Religion of Islam.[edit]

For general introduction to this part of the subject read F. A. Klein, The Religion of Islam (London, Triibner and Co., 1906) ; W. St. aair Tisdall, The Religion of the Crescent (S.P.C.K., London, 1895) ; or S. M. Zwemer, Islam (Student Volunteer Movement, New York, 1907). The first named book is of the greatest value to the student, as the author gives all his references in the original Arabic and the division of the subject is in accordance with that of Moslem authors. Otto Pautz's Mohammed s Lehre von der Offenbarung (J. C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, Leipzig, 1898), contains much new material and also gives references to Moslem writers. The two books by Canon E. Sell, The Faith of Islam (Triibner and Co., London, 1897), and Essays on Islam (Simpkin and Co., London, 1901) ; and the two by Professor Duncan B. MacDonald, The Development of Muslim Theology, Juris- prudence and Constitutional Theory^ (Scribners, New York, 1903) and The Religious Attitude and Life in Islam (University of Chicago, Chicago, 1909), are all of them important contributions to the subject. On the Moslem idea of God, Zwemer's The Moslem Doctrine of God (Oliphant, Anderson and Terrier, Edinburgh, 1905) and the article by Professor MacDonald on Allah in the Encyclopedia of Islam, should be consulted. The latter gives a full bibliography. Zwemer's The Moslem Christ (Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, 1911) is a monograph on the Christology of Islam ; while those who desire to study the philosophy of Islam will find no better handi- book than T. J. De Boer's History of Philosophy in Islam"^ (Luzac and Co., London, 1903). For a general view of the ritual of Islam, especially the pilgrimage, there is nothing more interesting than Richard Burton's Personal Narrative of A Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah

The above working library on Islam is not beyond the purse of the average library or mission station. All the books mentioned, including the periodicals and the encyclopedia, can be purchased, with the possible excep- tion of one or two rare volumes, for less than £60 ($300). The twenty best books (twenty-four volumes) selected from this list and marked with an asterisk, cover the subject to a degree and can be secured for about £10 ( $50).


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1952, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.