Vol. 25 (2022): Cromohs

Seeing Islam as a Historian Sees It: A Mediterranean Frame Tale

Ramzi Rouighi
University of Southern California
Thomas Coryat, Coryat’s Crudities: Reprinted from the Edition of 1611. To which are Now Added, His Letters from India, &c. and Extracts Relating to Him, from Various Authors [...] Together with His Orations, Character, Death, Etc. [...] (London: Printed for W. Cater, et. al., 1776), vol. III, n.p., ‘Coryat’s Letters from India’. Copy at The British Library, digitised by Google books.

Published 2023-01-31


  • Islam,
  • Medieval,
  • Translation,
  • Mediterranean,
  • Historicity


When historians employ the term “Islam” to interpret and explain the medieval past they tend to conceive of it as a religion, a civilization, or a world, reflecting not only their own assumptions, priorities, and concerns, but also those of the medieval authors on whose writings they rely. Rather than improving our understanding of the past, however, prevailing ways of handling the category Islam tend to weaken our grasp of historical processes. They are problematic and require critical attention to disentangle webs of meanings across a vast number of pertinent texts and contexts, medieval and modern.