The Expansion of the Early Islamic State

Publication Year



Edited by Fred McGraw Donner, B.A. 1968, Ph.D. 1975.

This volume presents a selection of the key studies in which leading scholars since the beginning of the 20th century attempt to explain the phenomenally rapid expansion of the early Islamic state during the 7th century CE. The articles debate the causes for the conquest movement or expansion, the reasons for its success, the nature of the movement itself, the impact the expansion had on the countries affected by it, and the complex questions surrounding the sources on which historians have constructed their views of the expansion, and the reliability (or lack of it) of those sources. No articles devoted to the actual conquest of a given locality are included-hundreds exist-but a fairly extensive bibliography lists many of the more important contributions in this genre. The editor's introduction addresses the phenomenon of the expansion and how scholars have approached and grappled with it.

Table of Contents


The art of war of the Arabs, and the supposed religious fervour of the Arab conquerors, Leone Caetani

Some critical and sociological remarks on the Arab conquest and the theories proposed on this, G.H. Bousquet

Observations on the nature and causes of the Arab conquest, G.H. Bousquet

The nomad as empire builder: a comparison of the Arab and Mongol conquests, John J. Saunders

The Arab expansion: the military problem, Marius Canard

The first expansion of Islam: factors of thrust and containment, Gustave E. von Grunebaum

The conquest, Christian Décobert

Another orientalist's remarks concerning the Pirenne thesis, Andrew S. Ehrenkreutz

Initial Byzantine reactions to the Arab conquest, Walter E. Kaegi

Only a change of masters? The Christians of Iran and the Muslim conquest, Stephen Gerö

An apocalyptic vision of Islamic history, Bernard Lewis

The legendary Futuh literature, Rudi Paret

On the relationship in the Caliphate between central power and the provinces: the 'Sulh'-''Anwa' traditions in Egypt and Iraq, Albrecht Noth

Ibn Abdelhakam and the conquest of North Africa, Robert Brunschwig

The birth of Islam in the Holy Land, Moshe Sharon

Isfahan-Nihawand. A source-critical study of early Islamic historiography, Albrecht Noth

Centralized authority and military autonomy in the early Islamic conquests, Fred McGraw Donner

The conquest of Khuzistan: a historiographical reassessment, Chase F. Robinson

Syriac views of emergent Islam, S.P. Brock



’All in all, this is a very useful volume which greatly aids our understanding not only of the nature of the early Islamic conquests, but also of the responses to them ” and as we have indicated, these responses have echoes today.’ The Muslim Word Book Review


Series Title
The Formation of the Classical Islamic World
Series Volume
Ashgate Variorum
Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT