This study of messianism and revolution examines an extremely rich though unexplored historical record on the rise of Islam and its sociopolitical revolutions from Muhammad’s constitutive revolution in Arabia to the Abbasid revolution in the East and the Fatimid and Almohad revolutions in North Africa and the Maghreb. Bringing the revolutions together in a comprehensive framework, Arjomand uses sociological theory as well as the critical tools of modern historiography to argue that a volatile but recurring combination of apocalyptic motivation and revolutionary action was a driving force of historical change time and again. In addition to tracing these threads throughout 500 years of history, he also establishes how messianic beliefs were rooted in the earlier Judaic and Manichaean notions of apocalyptic transformation of the world. By bringing to light these linkages and factors not found in the dominant sources, this text offers a sweeping account of the long arc of Islamic history.
Saïd Amir Arjomand, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Stony Brook, is one of the leading sociologists of religion and historical sociology. He is currently the Editor of the Journal of Persianate Studies. Arjomand is the author numerous books on the history of Islam, social theory, globalization, and Shi‘ism. Among those are: The Turban for the Crown. The Islamic revolution in Iran (Oxford University Press, 1988); After Khomeini, Iran under his Successors (Oxford University Press, 2009); Revolution: Structure and Meaning in World History (Unviersity of Chicago Press, 2019). Most recently, he has published the two books, Messianism and Sociopolitical Revolution in Medieval Islam (UC Press, 2022); and Revolutions of the End of Time: Apocalypse, Revolution and Reaction in the Persianate World (Brill, 2022).