Islamicate Society

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The term Islamicate culture was coined by Marshall Hodgson (d. 1968) in the first volume of his The Venture of Islam (1974). Hodgson invented the term in response to the confusion surrounding such terms as "Islamic," "Islam," and "Muslim" when they are used to describe aspects of society and culture that are found throughout the Muslim world. Hodgson used the term to describe cultural manifestations arising out of an Arabic and Persian literate tradition, which does not refer directly to the Islamic religion but to the "social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims" (p. 59). For example, Hodgson argued that there are a variety of artistic, architectural, and literary styles indicative of Islamicate culture. No matter where these aesthetic styles are found, they are identifiable as deriving from Islamicate cultural complexes. Thus, if one finds the use of arabesques, calligraphy, or arched doorways anywhere in the world, these forms are identifiable as Islamicate in origin. In constrast, Hodgson argued that those elements of Islamic society that are not shared by non-Muslims are not indicative of Islamicate culture (for instance, mosque architecture). Due to the overriding influence of Islam on non-Muslims living within Muslim realms, however, Hodgson used the term to demonstrate the importance of Islam as a cultural force that influenced non-Muslim forms of art, literature, and custom.

See alsoIslam and Islamic .


Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

Martin, Richard C. Islamic Studies: A History of Religions Approach. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996.

R. Kevin Jaques

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Islamicate Society

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