Below is a brief list of recommended reading for a student or general reader interested in learning more about Islamic history. This is neither an exhaustive nor a complete list, but rather a collection of works that I consider interesting or beneficial. I highly recommend learning about Islamic history from a variety of sources, written by both Western and Muslim scholars to gain a more thorough understanding of the subject.

General Islamic History:

A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong

The Cambridge History of Islam by P.M. Holt

The Great Arab Conquests by Hugh Kennedy

The Middle East: A History by William Oschenwald

The Oxford History of Islam edited by John Esposito

The Venture of Islam by Marshall Hodgson

When Baghdad Ruled the World by Hugh Kennedy

Islamic Sciences:

(Note: I highly suggest reading the following books with the guidance of a qualified scholar of Islamic studies. Topics such as Islamic law and theology can be easily misunderstood without the advice of an expert in the field.)

A History of Islamic Legal Theories by Wael Hallaq

Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World by Jonathan A.C. Brown

Hadith Literature by Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi

The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology edited by Tim Winter

The Canonization of Islamic Law by Ahmed El Shamsy

The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi translated by Hamza Yusuf

The History of the Quranic Text by M.M. Al-Azami


1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization by Salim al-Hassani

Lost History by Michael Hamilton Morgan

Science & Islam by Ehsan Masood

Islamic Spain:

Blood and Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain by Matthew Carr

God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe 570-1215 by David Levering Lewis

Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500 by L.P. Harvey

Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources edited by Olivia Constable

Muslim Spain and Portugal by Hugh Kennedy

Islam in Africa & African American Muslims:

Black Pilgrimage to Islam by Robert Dannin

Ibn Battuta in Black Africa by Said Hamdun

Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas by Sylviane Diouf

The History of Islam in Africa by Nehemia Levtzion

The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society 800-1500 by Derek Nurse

The Ottoman Empire:

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin

Osman’s Dream by Caroline Finkle

The First World War in the Middle East by Kristian Ulrichsen

The Grand Turk by John Freely

The Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition by Norman Itzkowitz

The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600 by Halil Inalcik


Afghanistan: A Short History of its People and Politics by Martin Ewans

Invisible Nation: How the Kurds’ Quest for Statehood is Shaping Iraq and the Middle East by Quil Lawrence

Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiorre

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf

The Jews of Islam by Bernard Lewis

The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun

The Travels of Ibn Battuta translated by H.A.R. Gibb