________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 27. . . .March 15, 2013


Government and Law in the Early Islamic World. (Life in the Early Islamic World).

Trudee Romanek.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2013.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2175-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2168-0 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Islamic countries- Politics and government-Juvenile literature.
Islamic law-Juvenile literature.
Islamic countries-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4


Early Islamic Empires. (Life in the Early Islamic World).

Lizann Flatt.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2013.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-2178-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-2171-0 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Islamic Empire-History-Juvenile literature.
Iran-History-Safavid dynasty, 1501-1736-Juvenile literature.
Turkey-History-Ottoman Empire, 1288-1918-Juvenile literature.
Islam-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4



The Law
For many years Arab people had followed basic laws or traditions. Tribe members, for example, protected and cared for members of their own tribe. Tribes were expected to give help, support, food, and water to travellers passing through the desert.

The Quran said that all Muslims were now like one single tribe, who should protect one another and follow new rules. These rules became the basis for more complex laws as Islam grew. By 1000, Muslims had spread from the Arabian Peninsula as far as Spain and Central Asia. As they settled in distant lands, they spread the new religious laws to the societies they found there. (From
Government and Law in the Early Islamic World.)


Four titles in the series, Arts and Culture in the Early Islamic World, The Role of Religion in the Early Islamic World, Science, Medicine and Math in the Early Islamic World and Trade and Commerce in the Early Islamic World were reviewed previously in CM.

     Interest in Islam, Muslim history, culture and ideas has grown considerably in North America and Europe over the last number of years because of increasing immigration from Africa and the Middle East, and especially after 9/11 and the wars and disruption that followed it.

     It’s useful to have accurate and substantive information for children about the early Islamic world. Children who have no connection with Muslim culture can learn a great deal of history and gain an understanding of a world outside of the European-based society in which we live. Children whose heritage is Muslim can also learn about their own cultural history and see it respectfully represented in library collections in our changing country. The two titles reviewed here provide good insight into how government and law developed in Islamic societies and how exploration on the part of Muslims and Europeans affected each other. The period of the Crusades is of major interest because it created possibilities for trade and other cultural exchanges.

     These beautifully designed 48-page books will keep readers between the ages of 10-13 turning pages. The background of each page is a gentle antique gold. Reproductions of tapestries, paintings, manuscripts, medals or other decorative art illustrate the two-page chapter topics, with captions to explain. The lead paragraph of each chapter is printed in bold type, followed by historical information that is further divided into subtopics. Significant words are highlighted and defined in a glossary at the end of the book where a section on biographies of historically important individuals is also found, as well timelines showing what was happening in other parts of the world during the same era, suggestions for further research and an index.

     Most important, though, is the text, which records the complex history of the Muslim world over time. Mindful that details can be overwhelming, the writing style is clear:

Inroads into Europe
Orhan’s son Murad I expanded the empire farther, especially into Europe. His army took over the Balkans – a mountainous region that includes present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Croatia – which gave the Ottomans control of lands in Europe. At the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, they defeated the Serbian kingdom but Muran I was killed. His son Bayezid I took over expanding the Ottoman territories.

     Additional information is added in boxes:

The Divide
A rift formed in Islam over who should become the rightful leader of the umma. One group felt only those who were related to Muhammad by blood should succeed him as leader. That group is now known as the Shii Muslims. They supported Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph, but not the first three. Sunni Muslims did not feel a blood relationship was required. They believed the first three caliphs were also valid caliphs. These two Muslim groups – Shii and Sunni – exist to this day.

     This series, while not comprehensive (there is no volume on the role of women, for example) does provide a rounded picture of society as it developed in North Africa and the Middle East. All the titles will be welcome additions to a library collection. They can be used in teaching units or serve as good reading for young history buffs.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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