Book Review: Lost Islamic History by Firas Al-Khateeb

Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim Civilisation From the Past

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

The book is split into 12 chapters; 12 points in history that made Islam what it is now.

It begins with the life before the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). It beautifully explains the life of pre-Islamic Arabia; their religion, the eloquent speech and other aspects that were crucial to understand about the people of Quraysh, the tribe of the prophet. Before explaining, the life of the prophet (peace be upon him), and the caliphate rule after him (peace be upon him. it then discusses the establishment of the Muslim state, the intellectual golden ages, the islamic sciences, before portraying the increase of dynasties, such as the crusades, the mongols, against the Muslim world. There is also a chapter talking about Islam in Spain, East and West Africa, China, Southeast Asia. The book ends with the rise and downfall of the Ottomans and the current dilemma within the Muslim world today. 

“Today I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and approved for you Islam as you religion” (Quran 5:3) Chapter 2, page 31

The best part of Lost Islamic History is the objectivity throughout the book. Al-Khateeb writes about the rise of each Islamic sect. With an introduction to Shia’ism beginning with a political agenda before developing into a religious dimension and the beginning of Sufism by introducing earliest major Sufi figures al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 728) and Rabi’a al-Adawwiya (d. 801). I believe that such objectivity opens up the readership for the book. Muslims from each sect can feel a connection to history. It was interesting to read about the development of Shia’ism and the rise of the sect to what it is today. 

“Al-Azhar University was established in Cairo in 970 in effort to spread Isma’ili beliefs among the mainly Sunni population of Egypt” – chapter 7, page 118.

Furthermore, I believe the writing style further opens the audience demographic to those who are non-Muslims but want to learn more about the Islam and its history. None of the language is exclusive and those that may be are thoroughly explained in the text.

“The word ta’ifa (plural tawa’if) itself comes from the Quran, which exhorts Muslims to make peace between two competing tawa’if, or factions, that come to blows” – Chapter 8, Page 147

However, this book is just a starting point on learning about the Islamic history. Although it helps you gain more of an insight, to be able to take a more comprehensive approach, the audience will need to do further reading. A person wanting to explore the lost history can take a look at the short bibliography at the back of the book. The one book I would definitely recommend would be The Sealed Nectar by Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum. It is a detailed biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

This was a beautiful read and I enjoyed every aspect of it. To the point where reading the last sentence had upset me. This is a book that needed to be savoured and annotated to fully appreciate. It is also a book to keep going back to as either a reference point or to refresh your mind. It deserves every single 5 star and I would definitely recommend it to everyone I meet.

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