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A Short History of Islamic Thought

Fitzroy Morrissey

Publication Date - 01 December 2021

ISBN: 9780197522011

256 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches

In Stock


For general readers, a compact and illuminating introduction to Islam, from its beginnings almost 1500 years ago to the present moment.

While much has been written about Islam, particularly over the twenty-five years, few books have explored the full range of the ideas that have defined the faith over a millennium and a half. Fitzroy Morrissey provides a clear and concise introduction to the origins and sources of Islamic thought, from its beginnings in the 7th century to the current moment. He explores the major ideas and introduces the major figures--those who over the centuries have broached life's major questions, from the nature of God and the existence of free will to gender relations and the ordering of society, and in the process defined Islam. Drawing on Arabic and Persian primary texts, as well as the latest scholarship, A Short History of Islamic Thought explains the key teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith, the great books of Islamic theology, philosophy, and law, as well as the mystical writings of the Sufis. It evaluates the impact of foreign cultures-Greek and Persian, Jewish and Christian-on early Islam, accounts for the crystallization of the Sunni and Shi'i forms of the faith, and accounts for the rise of such trends as Islamic modernism and Islamism. Above all, it reveals the fundamental principles of Islamic thought, both as a source of inspiration for Muslims today and as illuminating and rewarding in their own right.


  • Provides a comprehensive survey of Islamic thought
  • Written in a clear and engaging way, for readers of all backgrounds
  • Synthesizes primary sources in Arabic and Persian, classic works of scholarship, and the latest research

About the Author(s)

Fitzroy Morrissey is a Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. A specialist in Sufism and the intellectual history of the Islamic world, he is the author of Sufism and the Perfect Human (Routledge, 2020) and Sufism and the Scriptures (I.B. Tauris, 2020).


"Fitzroy Morrissey's book fills a major void in general knowledge by offering a concise, clear, easy-to-follow guide through Islam as both a religion and a political-cultural force. A Short History of Islamic Thought delivers exactly what it promises ... It's an impressive feat to capture so much in so few pages." -- Marissa Moss, New York Journal of Books

"The history of Islamic thought is a well-told tale, by both Muslim and Western scholars ... Morrissey does a good job tracing this diverse canon in clear, genial prose." -- Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs

"A magisterial accomplishment based on extensive reading into Islamic sources across the centuries. Balanced and clear, and a fascinating read, this is the best guide to the history and theology of Islam in print." -- Eugene Rogan, author of The Arabs: A History

"This lucid, concise and humane book is the best guide to Islamic thinking that I've read. Fitzroy Morrissey explains the key developments, from the Qu'ran to Khomeini, setting them in a context that makes them much easier to grasp and writing in a way that makes you want to know what happened next. If you are looking for an introduction to the principles of Islam, or for enlightenment on the Sunni-Shia split or Islam's different schools of thought, this is the book you need." -- James Barr, author of A Line In The Sand

Table of Contents


    Chapter One - The Word of Allah
    Chapter Two - Heirs to the Prophets
    Chapter Three - Defenders of Islam
    Chapter Four - The Sunni Compromise
    Chapter Five - The Shi'i Vision
    Chapter Six - Rationalists and Radicals
    Chapter Seven - Sufism Ascendant
    Chapter Eight - Reason, Revelation and Inspiration
    Chapter Nine - The Age of Empire
    Chapter Ten - Decline and Revival
    Chapter Eleven - Facing Modernity
    Chapter Twelve - From Modernism to Islamism

    Epilogue - Islam Today