This is the first volume of Goldziher's Muslim Studies, which ranks highly among the classics of the scholarly literature on Islam. Indeed, the two volumes, originally published in German in 1889-1890, can justly be counted among those that laid the foundations of the modern study of Islam as a religion and a civilization.
The first study deals with the reaction of Islam to the ideals of Arab tribal society, to the attitudes of early Islam to the various nationalities and more especially the Persians, and culminates in the chapter on the Shu'ubiya movement which represents the reaction of the newly converted peoples, and again more especially the Persians, to the idea of Arab superiority. The second essay is the famous study on the development of the Hadith, the "Traditions" ascribed to Muhammed, in which the Hadith is shown to reflect the various trends of early Islam: Goldziher's name is mainly associated with the critical study of the Hadith, of which this essay is the chief monument. The third essay is about the cult of saints, which, though contrary to the spirit and letter of the earliest Islam, played such an important part in its subsequent development.
These essays, with the author's marvelous richness of information, profound historical sense, and sympathetic insight into the motive forces of religion and civilization, are today as fresh as at the time of their original publication and their reissue is indispensable for the growing number of students of Islam. Hamid Dabashi contributes a major eighty-five-page study of Goldziher's life and scholarship, situating both in the intellectual and political currents of his own time while evaluating his work in the context of the current debate over Orientalism.