An History of the Indo-Islamic World

December 27, 2021 [books] #history #india

The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, 700 CE - 1800 CE
Author: Andre Wink

Johnson's 1866 Map of Indian Subcontinent Johnson's 1866 map of the Indian Subcontinent


Al-hind, named as such in Arabic geographical and navigational works, corresponds to the regions encompassing present-day Indian subcontinent and parts of South East Asia, all the way to the Malay-Indonesian archipelago. These are regions that share a common history where earlier Indic religions and forms of kingship flourished, followed by Islamization that took a very different form here compared to the Mediterranean world and Persia, in turn followed by complete colonization by the European empires. Andre Wink's thesis is that history of this region can be examined as result of the interaction between the nomadic frontier and settled society and this has determined to a large extent the parameters of the Indo-Islamic world. Consequently, geography plays a big role in this thesis. The frontier society includes both the arid steppe/saharan regions and the Indian ocean world. The books covers many different aspects of the region and its history, all viewed exclusively via this framework. Below is only a little of the many - sometimes contrarian - views that I found interesting and educational:

The scope of the book is truly monumental. Andre Wink talks about everything from the rise of the Jats and Rajputs to the spread of the Brahmins, the Indizication and Islamization of the Malay-Indonesian archipelago, chivalry in the Indo-Islamic North , the explosion of ports in India in the 16th and 17th century and along side it, the rise in trade, the origin of the mopillas, Marakkars, the fall of Surat, Calicut and Masulipatnam and the rise of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, and a lot more.

I have highlights on almost every page, and this is probably a work I will revisit often. I do have more than a few disagreements. One day I will have to tackle the 5 volume predecessor, which Wink references often in his footnotes.

Very much recommended.

Back to top