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The Koran is universally accepted by Muslims to be the infallible Word of God as first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel nearly fourteen hundred years ago. Its 114 chapters, or surahs, recount the narratives central to Muslim belief, and together they form one of the world's most influential prophetic works and a literary masterpiece in its own right. But above all, the Koran provides the rules of conduct that remain fundamental to the Muslim faith today: prayer, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca and absolute faith in God.
The Muqaddimah, often translated as "Introduction" or "Prolegomenon," is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate acclaim in the United States and abroad. A one-volume abridged version of Rosenthal's masterful translation first appeared in 1969.<P><P> This Princeton Classics edition of the abridged version includes Rosenthal's original introduction as well as a contemporary introduction by Bruce B. Lawrence. This volume makes available a seminal work of Islam and medieval and ancient history to twenty-first century audiences.<P> Chosen for Mark Zuckerberg's "A Year of Books"
"The folk-tales which have collectively survived in what is known as The Thousand and One Nights owe their origin to three distinct cultures: Indian, Persian, and Arab. They can be regarded as the expression of the lay and secular imagination of the East in revolt against the austere erudition and religious zeal of Oriental literature generally. Written in a simple, almost colloquial style, and depicting a unique world of all-powerful sorcerers and ubiquitous jinn, of fabulous wealth and candid bawdry, these tales have little in common with the refined didacticism of Classical Arabic literature and have therefore never been regarded by the Arabs as a legitimate part of it. Yet it is a remarkable paradox that to the non-Arab world, and particularly to the West, the Nights is today the best known and most widely read book of Arabic authorship, while the more serious works of Classical Arabic literature, for the most part untranslatable verse, remain quite unfamiliar. In fact, in the course of the past two centuries the Nights has attained, mainly through the medium of translation, the status of a universal classic and has come to be recognized as such. This is not surprising. The tales themselves are masterpieces of the art of story-telling." Introduction