As with all general history, Islamic history is conventionally approached in terms of evolutionary trends and continuities. This study in historical sociology of the millennial or Mahdist movements and their long-term impact, in contrast, focuses on abrupt discontinuities in the form of revolutions as apocalyptic breaks, and on the reaction of the ruling authorities as counter-revolution aiming at routinizing these charismatic irruptions into history by absorbing their impact within the prevalent structure of authorities, and thereby re-establishing the continuity that is taken for granted by future historians. For the framework of this analysis of the dynamics of revolution, and reaction within a single world region, it chooses the civilizational zone defined by its cultural unity as the Persianate world.
Saïd Amir Arjomand is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at Stony Brook University, founder of the Association for the Study of Persianate Society, editor of the Journal of Persianate Studies, and author of Revolution: Structure and Meaning in World History.
All interested in the Timurid and Ottoman periods, Sufism, social history of medieval cities, confraternities of craftsmen and city quarters, popular literature, apocalyptic religion, millenarian movements and the sociology of revolution.