This book is primarily concerned with the experience of the Muslim world over the past two hundred years. It identifies two great processes that have shaped it through this period: Western domination and the industrial capitalism that came with it, and the Islamic revival which preceded the Western presence but came to interact significantly with it. It considers the challenges which Western dominance has offered key aspects of Muslim civilisation, and Muslim responses to them.
It also considers aspects of the Muslim revival and how they have come to shape, in various ways, those responses. The role of the transmission of knowledge, both formal and spiritual, in forming Muslim societies is explored, and also the particular role of the transmitters in sustaining the Islamic dimensions of Muslim societies under Western dominance.
Particular attention is paid to South Asia which in the nineteenth century moved from being a receiver of influences from the rest of the Muslim world to be a transmitter of influences to it. Attention, too, is paid to the imposition of the modern state and the restriction of cosmopolitan spaces.
Francis Robinson has been Professor of the History of South Asia at Royal Holloway, University of London, since 1990. In 2008-11 he was also Sultan of Oman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Visiting Professor in the History of Islamic World, Oxford. In 2016 He was the Mellon Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago. In 1996-99 and 2006-09 he was President of the Royal Asiatic Society.
His interests are primarily in religious change in the Islamic world since the seventeenth century and more specifically in ulama and Sufis in South Asia. Amongst his recent publications are: Islam and Muslim History in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Pres, 2000); The Ulama of Farangi Mahall and Islamic Culture in South Asia (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001); Islam, South Asia and the West (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007); The Mughal Emperors and the Islamic Dynasties of India, Iran and Central Asia (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007); Islam in the Age of Western Dominance ed., Vol. 5 New Cambridge History of Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Jamal Mian: The Life of Maulana Jamaluddin Abdul Wahab of Farangi Mahall, 1919-2011 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2017; Delhi: Primus books, 2018 forthcoming).