Since its creation, UNESCO has been highlighting the intellectual solidarity of humankind, the importance of knowledge and the value of diversity to build mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue.
“The Different Aspects of Islamic Culture” is part of UNESCO’s Histories flagship project. This work has been achieved with financial and logistical support from the World Islamic Call Society (WICS) of Libya. It is a collection of six thematic volumes that gathers the contributions of around 150 scholars, Muslims and non-Muslims, from all over the world. It reflects profound academic exchanges among members of the Scientific Committee of the project, editors and authors, in order to present a comprehensive historical and geographical overview of Islamic culture.
Its scope is broad and sets out to acquaint the widest possible readership with various facets of this living culture. It documents the theological foundations of Islam, the status of the individual and society in the Islamic world, the expansion of Islam, its fundamental contribution to education, science and technology and the contributions of Islamic civilization to literature, philosophy, art and architecture.
These volumes show how, over centuries, Islam has been a driving force in the rapprochement of cultures, and has provided a framework within which diverse cultures could flourish and interact.
Volume I, The Foundations of Islam, discusses the pillars of faith and the foundations on which Islam rests. It explores the ideas and ideals of Islam, which have shaped the Muslim vision over the centuries and given meaning, purpose and direction to Muslims’ lives. Available in English
Volume II, The Status of the Individual and Society in Islam, responds to the challenges caused by the encounter of tradition and modernity at the heart of Islamic societies and provides historic facts to show the rules and reciprocal relationship between the individual and society in Islamic culture. Available in English | Arabic | French (not accessible online)
Volume III, The Spread of Islam throughout the World, analyses the spread of Islam and shows both its diversity and universality as well as the way Islam has ‘apprehended’ the world. Available in English
Volume IV, (Parts 1 & 2) Science and Technology in Islam, explores the important contribution of Islamic civilization to the scientific and technological fields. This volume shows how different sciences, whether received from the pre-Islamic world or developed during the Islamic era, have been enrichened and transmitted to other cultures and people by Muslim scientists. It also provides a comprehensive index of the scientific advances they achieved. Available in English
Volume V, Culture and Learning in Islam, studies the educational and cultural environments of Islamic civilization and casts light on some of the manifestations of Islam in the spheres of language and literature, philosophy and mysticism, human sciences and art. Available in English
Volume VI, Islam in the World Today, sheds light on the dynamics and practices of Muslim communities in contemporary societies across the world, by providing a rigorous analysis of their economic, political, socio-cultural and educational characteristics.
- Part 1: Retrospective of the evolution of Islam and Muslims: the satio-temporal framework. Available in English
- Part 2: Islam and Muslims world today. Available in English
See also: Complete bibliography of the volumes
A tool for intercultural and interreligious dialogue
Launched by UNESCO in 1977, this collection is the result of work undertaken over 40 years under the supervision of a scientific committee and the guidance of the pluralistic perspective defined for UNESCO’s General and Regional Histories (History of Humanity, General History of Africa, General History of the Caribbean, General History of Latin America and History of Civilizations of Central Asia).
It provides unique knowledge of the creative diversity and complexity of Islamic culture and highlights its fundamental contribution to the progress of humanity. As such, it constitutes a relevant tool to encourage and facilitate intercultural and interreligious dialogue. By bringing together diverse academic views on Islamic culture, it strongly contributes to the global debate on Islam and challenges many of the prejudices and misinterpretations.