Michael Cook (historian)
He studied History and Oriental Studies at King's College, Cambridge 1959-1963 and did postgraduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London 1963-1966 under the supervision of Professor Bernard Lewis. He was lecturer in Economic History with reference to the Middle East at SOAS 1966-1984 and Reader in the History of the Near and Middle East 1984-1986. In 1986 he was appointed Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Since 2007 he has been Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in Spring 1990.
In Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (1977), Cook and his associate Patricia Crone provided a new analysis of early Islamic history by studying the only surviving contemporary accounts of the rise of Islam. They fundamentally questioned the historicity of the Islamic traditions about the beginnings of Islam. Thus they tried to produce the picture of Islam's beginnings only from non-Arabic sources. By studying the only surviving contemporary accounts of the rise of Islam, which were written in Armenian, Greek, Aramaic and Syriac by witnesses, they reconstructed a significantly different story of Islam's beginnings, compared with the story known from the Islamic traditions. Cook and Crone claimed to be able to explain exactly how Islam came into being by the fusion of various near eastern civilizations under Arabic leadership. Later, Michael Cook refrained from this attempt of a detailed reconstruction of Islam's beginnings, and concentrated on Islamic ethics and law.
Cook's main work is Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (2000), in which he analyses the historical development of Islamic ethics from the beginnings through the centuries till today.
Important Prizes and Nomination
- In 2001 he was chosen to be a member of the American Philosophical Society.
- In 2002 he received the prestigious $1.5 million Distinguished Achievement Award from the Mellon Foundation for significant contribution to humanities research.
- In 2004 he was chosen to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- In 2006 he won Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities at Princeton.
- In 2008 he won Farabi Award in the Humanities and Islamic Studies.
- In 2013 he was awarded an honorary doctorate at Leiden University.
- In 2014 he won the Holberg Prize
- Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World, 1977, with Patricia Crone.
- Muhammad (Past Masters), 1983.
- The Koran: A Very Short Introduction, 2000.
- Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, 2001 (Winner of the Albert Hourani Book Award).
- Forbidding Wrong in Islam: An Introduction (Themes in Islamic History), 2003.
- Early Muslim Dogma : A Source-Critical Study, 2003.
- Studies in the Origins of Early Islamic Culture and Tradition, 2004.
- A Brief History of the Human Race, 2005.
- Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective, 2014
- Michael Allan Cook at Holberg Prize page
- Holberg Price 2014: About Michael Cook
- 2002 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients Mellon Foundation
- Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Retrieved 10 February 2010
- "Honorary Doctorates at Leiden for Arabists Patricia Crone & Michael Cook and for translator Rien Verhoef". Leiden University. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Faculty description page at Princeton University.
- In 384 pages? Cook chronicles history of the human race by Jennifer Altmann, Princeton Weekly Bulletin, June 14, 2004
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