Islam and the Crusades contains the autobiographical works of Usama ibn Munqidh, a twelfth-century Arab aristocrat. Full of detail, wit and melancholy, Usama's narrative anecdotes illustrate the inscrutability of God's will in life, as well as providing a memorable record of Islam's long encounter with the Crusaders, known to Usama only as the Franks. This edition focuses on The Book of Contemplation, but also uses extracts from The Book of the Staff and Kernels of Refinement to produce a complete and human portrayal of Islamic perspectives on a day-to-day existence, warfare, and the curious European invaders.
Paul M. Cobb's accessible translation is accompanied by an introduction that places Usama's writings in their historical and literary context, explains the poetry of his language and examines the divisions between Islamic sects at the time. This edition also contains maps, a chronology of the author's life, a family tree, suggested further reading and a glossary.