Approaches to Global and Islamic History
Author(s): Muhammad Gholam Rasul
Reviewed by: Tauseef Ahmad Parray, Islamic University of Science & Technology, Jammu & Kashmir, India
The book under review is a collection of six interdisciplinary essays, preceded by a foreword by the editor M. A. J. Beg a preface and an introduction, followed by three Appendices and a brief Index. Professor M. G. Rasul (of Bangladesh; 1921–97), a scholar of history, culture and civilization, kept an open mind to all kinds of sources – both Eastern and Western, especially of medieval and modern periods. The first four of the six essays in this book answer questions regarding the meaning, scope and significance of history; history and its relation with other subjects and fields of social science, like sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. Two essays also focus on ‘Interaction between Eastern and Western Civilization’ and ‘History and Civilization’. In the Foreword, Beg sets out Prof. Rasul’s contributions, his understanding of the subject and other aspects of his intellectual and academic life. Chapter 1 discusses the meaning, scope, and significance of history, and opines that the ‘proper study of history is a sociological understanding of history’ (p. 7) and that history writing gradually evolved with the ‘advancement of civilization’ (p. 12). In this chapter, the historical works of such classical and medieval Muslim historians as Ibn Khaldun, al-Biruni, Minhaj Siraj, Ziaudin Barani, ‘Afifi, Amir Khusrau, Abu’l-Fazl, Badauni, Ferishta, etc., are discussed, albeit very briefly, concluding that historiography was ‘cultivated with great zeal and earnestness’ (p. 15). Although the author affirms, in many places, that ‘history is not exactly a science’ and/or ‘an exact science’ (pp. 15, 16, 57), but a ‘record of intellectual, social, cultural, economic and religious activities of man’ (p. 17; emphasis added); elsewhere, he says that history ‘may be a branch of the social sciences’ (p. 16).