3 unmissable books from Italy on the Arab-Islamic world

This article is also available in: Italiano

Three Italian excellences to better discover the beauties of the Arab-Islamic world

Small but necessary premise

This is not a ranking but a suggestion for those approaching these countries and areas of the world for the first time and is also linked to the personal taste of the author. Putting only 3 works (thus risking to leave out entire countries) was a very specific choice due to something that is often forgotten: books are not free. Our intent is to provide beginners and experts with 3 truly “indispensable” titles, which can thus allow them to enjoy a good text and / or discover something new, allowing them to only make “good” shopping.


Do you have different “must-sees”? We are very curious to know them, in the future we will start direct 30 minutes / 1 hour starting from these lists; stay connected to receive news. We leave you to the list, good reads.

“Ibn Khaldun and the Muqaddimah” by Massimo Campanini

Critical awareness of classical Islamic civilization at its sunset, court man and multifaceted scholar, Abd al-Rahman Ibn Khaldûn (1332-1406) was the greatest philosopher and sociologist in the history of the entire Euro-Mediterranean “Middle Ages”, approached by many to Hobbes, Vico, Marx. Going through the fundamental themes of power and the state, the book studies how Khaldunian thought not only lays the foundations, in an innovative way, of a scientific interpretation of the dynamics of the evolution of human civilizations, but opens the way to the renewal of Arab-Islamic thought. contemporary.

Ibn Khaldun

In reality in this case the advice is not so much directed to the book itself, which is also extremely clear and useful for getting an overview of the great thinker, but to the author. Massimo Campanini was in fact among the greatest Italian Islamists of all time and de facto every book by him can be of great help in developing a critical and comprehensive knowledge of the Middle East and the Islamic world. In the future, other works by him will surely arrive, time to time.

“Tahrir” by Imma Vitelli

There was a time when we were worthy men. Ahmed Maher’s mind echoes the words spoken by his father when he was a child, now that he is a revolutionary leader, now that the Arab world is in turmoil, now that history seems to call young people to fight tyrannies. We too, in Egypt, can do it, Ahmed Maher thinks, as happened in Tunisia after the martyrdom of Mohamed Bouazizi. Let’s win back honor and freedom, right away.

Many others in Cairo think like him. They are Khaled el Sayed, Abdul Rahman Samir, Sally Toma, Zyad el Alaymi, Islam Lutfi… Students, IT experts, lawyers. Members of different political and religious groups, united in the same cause: to form an active resistance front against the government of Hosni Mubarak, president-monarch in office for thirty years.

They are the first “social” generation. They communicate via Twitter, post videos of the clashes on YouTube, meet on Facebook pages in secret places in the city, form protest marches that converge in a single “vibrant tide” in the nerve center of Tahrir Square.

Thus was born, between January 25 and February 11 2011, that revolt that in a short time, “the time it takes an idea to become a feeling”, will lead to the deposition of Mubarak. Together with the young shebabs, animated by the same pride, there are professionals, doctors, university professors, journalists, mothers, fathers, entire families, thousands of voices united in a single, unstoppable cry: “Whoever wants to change, come to Tahrir!”.


One of the first books we have ever read about the Middle East and the Islamic world, more precious than ever this year. In fact, in 2021 10 years will have passed since those heroic events, narrated here in a sublime way by Imma Vitelli, historical Italian reporter in the Middle East.

“Il “pazzo sacro” nell’Islam” by Alessandro Bausani

“In my Islamistic works … I have always had before my eyes the living personality of homo islamicus (variant for some colleagues perhaps” inferior “of homo sapiens) whose experiences I shared passionately, even without accepting them all”. Thus Alessandro Bausani, one of the greatest Italian orientalists of our century, characterized his activity as a scholar in 1971. From his vast scientific production, which also extended to linguistics, anthropology and sciences (astronomy, mathematics), nineteen studies are proposed here (including one unpublished in our language) all dedicated to Islamic civilization and written between 1957 and 1985. In Bausani’s vision, Islam is a fundamentally unitary universe, within which complex “variations of style” can be distinguished and investigated in the philosophical, artistic, literary fields, and which above all is capable of offering extraordinary experiences – with its great mystical tradition, with the lyric, with the novel – to the spirituality and sensitivity of modern man.


Probably the most beautiful Islamic text in Italian. “The” sacred madman “in Islam” is a collection of Bausani’s essays and thoughts in which one is catapulted into a world of infinite cultural depth and in which we can continuously read connections between the multiple realities that inhabit it. I’m not ashamed to say that I had to stop reading the book because for every single chapter I could have happily done at least one article, moreover extremely full and interesting. A pearl that any lover of the Middle East and, above all, of the Islamic world cannot miss for anything in the world.

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