Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature. Edited and translated by NORMAN CALDER, JAWID MOJADDEDI, and ANDREW RIPPIN. London: ROUTLEDGE, 2003. Pp. x + 275. $110 (cloth); $34.95 (paper).
As the subtitle suggests, this new work is intended for introductory-level students. To succeed, any such work needs to resolve three problems: the identification of representative texts, of appropriate length, and which cohere in some fashion, so as to illustrate properly the themes and development of a given genre (e.g., Sira, Tafsir); the translation of often formal texts in a language suited to the audience (one with little patience with lexical puzzles and strings of transliterated terms); and a level of annotation that throws sufficient light on the texts without giving the game away. The uneven quality of most previous collections of (classical) Islamic texts suggests impatience with one or more of these steps. On all counts, the present volume works very well. It is strongly recommended, particularly for junior instructors of Islamic studies. More established colleagues may find it difficult to part with their own, oft-tried, readings. Should they cast caution to the wind, however, they will likely find this collection a worthy substitute.