Stephane Pradines, Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at AKU-ISMC, has recently published two chapters on The Fortifications of Cairo and The Trade with East Africa in the new book Atlas des Mondes Musulmans Médiévaux/Atlas of Medieval Muslim Worlds, Edited by S. Denoix and H. Renel, CNRS publisher, Paris.
To offer a wide panorama of the history, politics and military, economy and society, religion and culture of the medieval Muslim worlds, from late Antiquity to the beginnings of the modern era, is the ambition of this Atlas, which is based on nearly two hundred original maps, at all scales, accompanied by texts, extracts from sources and illustrations.
The Islamic conquests contributed to the formation of a vast set of territories where Muslims held political power, dominating peoples with different customs, languages and religions. It extended over three continents – from al-Andalus in the west to Islamised India in the east – and opened up to two major maritime areas, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. This Atlas explores the routes travelled by merchants, pilgrims, travellers, students and scholars; it attests to the extent of the urban phenomenon as well as the richness of exchanges in the whole of this area and accounts for its insertion in a world-economy in formation.
The Muslim communities separated into different branches: the Sunnis and the Shiites, but also into a myriad of other minority currents which mark, until today, the religious topography. If the fratricidal struggles were important, the conflictual relations with different enemies from outside – conquests and jihad, crusades and invasions – have reorganised the internal balances as well as the external borders. The diplomatic activity that unfolded throughout Eurasia and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the circulation of ideas and literary or architectural models, testify, beyond commercial exchanges, to the extent of the networks developed in over the centuries.
The researchers who produced this collective work, launched within the “Medieval Islam” team of the Orient and Mediterranean Laboratory (CNRS), are specialists in different fields of the medieval history of the Muslim worlds. They and they give to see and understand, in a renewed historiography, a global and connected history of the medieval Muslim worlds.