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1. No god but God : The Origins,
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20. Islam: A Short History

1. No god but God : The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam
by Reza Aslan
list price: $25.95
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Asin: 1400062136
Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 554
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent introduction to Islam
This book is beautifully written and deserves to be the bestseller it has become. Aslan is trying to rescue Islam from the traditionalists who see it as stuck in the time of Mohammed forever. Instead, Aslan says the interpretation of what being a "good Muslim" is has been hijacked by a series of extremists, and now is the time to reclaim the hidden history of tolerance and diversity. I agree with other reviewers that this has a good chance of becoming the standard book on the subject. Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars new contender for best introduction to Islam
The best book I had found that introduces Islam to non-Muslims is Karen Armstrong's ISLAM: A SHORT HISTORY -- until now.Reza Aslan's book is slightly longer (270 pages to 190), but also more thorough and with a more up-to-date and hopeful perspective on the ongoing "evolution and future" of the religion.There are a multitude of prevalent misconceptions about Islam which these books correct, including 1) Islam is monolithic, 2) Islam is inherently violent, and 3) Islam discourages learning and critical thought.There is an entire right-wing fundamentalist christian industry that churns out such lies, and which tirelessly promotes a Holy War against the "Muslim infidels."The Christian fanatics are the mirror image of the Muslim fanatics!

Aslan is a religious scholar, born in Iran, and a liberal Muslim, now teaching at the University of Iowa.His analysis, which I find quite convincing, is that we are now living through the Islamic Reformation, comparable to the Christian (usually called Protestant) Reformation.Just as many of the early Protestants were militant and intolerant, and engaged in Holy War against what they saw as the corrupt and oppressive Roman church, so today there are similar movements in Islam.And just as those movements eventually led to the Enlightenment and the development of secular liberal societies (which the christian fundamentalists would like to destroy!), so might the militant Islamic movements of our time lead to a similar development in the Islamic world to come.

Controversial?Yes.Hopeful?Yes.And if you don't find his view of the future convincing, most of the book is invaluable nonetheless for its history of Islam in all its variety.I will very likely adopt this book as a text for either the Sociology of Social Movements and/or the Sociology of Religion next year.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightened Islam?
The first thing that struck me about this book is how well-written it is. I am a writer with about 5,000 articles in print or online. I'm also an editor, and I am noted for my harsh evaluations of the writing of others--most people simply do not write well.

Reza Aslan writes well. Extremely well.

By the time I was into the second page of this book, I felt that if Aslan had written a book about navel lint--I would still want to read it.

Couple the excellent writing with quality content, and you have a captivating book. When the subject is an authoritative explanation of Islam, the book becomes a must read for two groups of people: Those who are Muslims, and those who are not.

Aslan takes us on a journey through time. We see Muhammad before he becomes the "messenger of God," and we see his struggles along the way. From this, you can understand how Islam got its start. And then we see the various forces that act upon Islam as a blacksmith's hammer acts upon hot metal, and we watch this religion take shape over centuries.

Today, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. But, it's also a sharply fragmented religion. Aslan explain the origins of the various factions shaping Islam today. There's a strong parallel to what happened in Christianity. And, Aslan draws on this parallel to explain a core concept of the book--that Islam is far from monolithic. You have to remember that Christianity got a 500 year head start on Islam. Read your history of the West, and you can see Islam along the same trajectory.

Americans, in the aftershock of September 11, generally felt much of the Islamic world had declared war on the West. In actuality, the war is between Islamic factions--just as there were wars between Christian factions five hundred years ago (and still are, today). The West is, to many of the warring factions, a symbol of power. An attack on the West is a way to demonstrate power to the other factions. Of course, there's also a hatred of the West--but that hatred isn't the core driver it's made out to be.

Yet, that hatred is a powerful force in itself. Contrary to what many liberals have been spewing, this hatred did not arise from recent actions of any American political leader. Aslan destroys that bit of proganda by addressing the history of colonization--the enslavement, displacement, and impoverishment of millions of Islamic people.

What about this interfaction rivalry? Islam is beset by three major philosophies. One philosophy seeks to keep the original vision of Islam pure--that is, to not deviate from the teachings of Muhammad. A second philosophy is that Muhammad was not pure enough, and so Islam must become more radical (think of the Taliban, here). The third philosophy is that Islam must change to adapt to the modern world--it must throw off the chains of ignorance and poverty. Aslan explains the thinking behind each of these philosophies, without preaching to the reader.

Aslan's views come into play at the end of the book, where he ties everything together. But, you don't get the feeling this is the author trying to convince you of his own views. By this point, the reader already trusts Aslan and sees him as an expert. Now, the reader gets the expert's viewpoint on where Islam should head and why.

The book carries the reader through many spiritually dark places, but emerges into the sunshine of hope. The end is inspiring and encouraging, and it carries a message for people of all religions. It is a message well worth taking to heart.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impeccable narration of Shi'ite Islam
In arguing the issue of coexistence of Islam and democracy, Aslan presents an overview of 14 centuries of Islamic evolution and demonstrates that Islamic debates had long preceded the American experience with more than a thousand year. Aslan does not only act as an unbiased observer of the history of Islam, but also takes sides, fictionalizes when facts lack, and sticks to his guns when clearly dead wrong, as follows.

1) The author's young age helped in presenting cohesive, extensive, and rich narration of the overwhelmingly diverse cultures. Yet, it also contributed to his overreaching and imposing his own implausible explanation when matters convoluted.

2) His deeply ingrained Shiite beliefs contributed to his unconscious misinterpretation of the Quran and historic events for the sake of defending Shiism.

3) Growing up in America has influenced the author's writing style in many ways. He looks at the prophet critically, sometimes casually, other times even recklessly (welcome to America).

A brief summary of the book is in order.

Prologue: "THE CLASH OF MONOTHEISM", accounts for the struggle for reform between Islamization and democratization in the Islamic world that led to 9/11.The author dismisses the historicity of Moses' magic of parting the Red Sea, Jesus' miracle of raising Lazarus from death, and the revelation of Quran.A reasonable person would justify the inspiration of words of wisdom yet rejects magic and miracles, on the basis of breaching of reality.

Chapter 1, "THE SANCTUARY IN THE DESERT: PRE-ISLAMIC ARABIA", describes pre-Islamic Arabia when paganism centered on Mecca as a center of pilgrimage and trade. It covers Muhammad's birth and growing up when "Hanifism" was underway to restore Ibraham's faith and get rid of idolatry.

Chapter 2, "THE KEEPER OF THE KEYS: MUHAMMAD IN MECCA", Describes the religio-economic system in seventh century Mecca before the revelation of Quran in the form of slavery, which Muhammad would soon fight and change, but not before emigrating to Yathrib and building new alliances.He relies on the English translation of Sura "al-Alaq" 96:2, in page 34, and misquotes the phrase "a clot of blood" for the correct Arabic meaning of "suspension" (clot is a dead material). He elegantly shows the mysterious power of Quran in its poetic vocalization.

Chapter 3, "THE CITY OF THE PROPHET: THE FIRST MUSLIMS", describes how the first definition of Islamic nation, religion, and constitution had all started in the remote oasis of Yathrib (Medina). It covers the flourishing of egalitarian ideals of Islam. Although the author admits to lack of historic facts, he defends Aisha's marriage before age without even having definitive proof of her birth date or that of Muhammad.On the veil issue, the author overlooks the necessity for covering the face and head in the dry, hot, and sandy desert environment.

Chapter 4, "FIGHT IN THE WAY OF GOD: THE MEANING OF JIHAD", depicts the clashes with Quraysh in defending Medina and shows the meaning of Islam "just" wars. He attributes stigmatizing Islamic fighters as "worriers" and "holy wars" to the Crusades and likens it with the stigmatizing Muslims as terrorists, in the present. He cites the Quranic verse 2:256 for forbidding compulsion in faith and contends that the Quranic order to kill infidels was meant by the Quraysh aggressors but was used by many for personal reasons other than intended.

Chapter 5, "THE RIGHTLY GUIDED ONES: THE SUCCESSORS TO MUHAMMAD", contends that after the death of Muhammad, Ali was cheated of Caliphate. Although he credited each Caliph for their great contributions to Islamic growth, his bitterness for Ali's fate is evident, as follows.

1- He claims, on Page 116, that the Quran itself repeatedly affirms the importance of blood relations (2:177, 215). Yet, the two verses from Surat "al-Baqqara" only deal with spending substance such as charity on kindred among others.

2- He contends that the great prophets of the Bible were succeeded by their kin. Yet, Islam started by fighting bigotry and judging people on merits and deeds not or race or inheritance See Sura "Al Hujurat", verse 49:13.

3- He accuses Uthman by claiming to be the "Successor of God" by mistranslating the phrase "Khalifat Allah" which in Arabic means "Caliph in the way of God".

Chapter 6, "THIS RELIGION IS A SCIENCE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAMIC THEOLOGY AND LAW" is the most intriguing chapter in the book. It describes the centuries-long debate on the myths and rituals of Islam. It describes the pillars of Islam and how and why Quran has captivated the souls of billions of people. It also describes the struggle between Rationalist and Traditionalist schools of thought in attempting to reconcile popular and divine sovereignty.

Chapter 7, "IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF MARTYRS: FORM SHI'ISM TO KHOMEINISM" describes the rise of Shiitu Ali in Kufa after the death of Ali and his sons Husayn and Hasan. It describes the emergence of innovative rituals distinct to Shiites that relate to their grievance. The innovation of "waiting Imams", made from light, infuriates Traditional Muslims. It shows how Khomeini like others manipulated the idea of Mahdi when confronted with real governing.

Chapter 8, "STAIN YOUR PRAYER RUG WITH WINE: THE SUFI WAY", delves into the mystic life of Sufis and outlines its self-annihilation practice as a method of uniting with God by rejecting reason, law, and religion and indulging is spiritual love.

Chapter 9, "AN AWAKENING IN THE EAST: THE RESPONSE TO COLONIALISM", discusses the impact of western colonization on the Middle East that ignited the struggle between Islamization and democratization. It outlines the movement of Islamic scholars from Iran, India, and Turkey to Egypt and Arabia that led to a new breed of Islamic organizations, in an evolving reform movement.

Chapter 10, "SLOUCHING TOWARD MEDINA: THE ISLAMIC REFORMATION" describes the experiment of building a state in Islamic cultures after independence from western colonization. It contends that reformation is underway for human rights, pluralism, and democracy and suggests that violent and aggressive changes might parallel those of the Christian reformation.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Overview of Islam
A few days after I was asked if I'd be willing to review Reza Aslan's new book "No god but God," and before I committed myself to doing so, I happened to catch the author's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" where he and four other gentlemen were discussing the role of religion in current affairs. The panel included the author, two Protestant leaders, one Roman Catholic theologian, and an editor from a news magazine, and Aslan was by far the youngest participant. I was so impressed with his discussion of the topic, particularly in reference to the impact of Islam on the world today, its historical antecedents, and what is currently going on, that I immediately consented to read and review his book. I'm glad I did.

Reza Aslan is a brilliant young scholar of Islam and also of comparative religion in general, just the sort that we so dearly need today when there is so much confusion surrounding one of the world's great historical religions and its theological beliefs and political intentions. Born in Iran a few years prior to the overthrow of the Shah and the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, the young boy was whisked out of the country and settled in the United States. Later, he studied religions at Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. At the University of Iowa he received a master's degree in fine arts and served as a visiting assistant professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. In my opinion, one of the advantages he has when speaking and writing about Islam for the American audience is that he is not only knowledgeable about his own heritage, but appears to be thoroughly acquainted with the Western religious tradition and the American culture. This places him in an extremely enviable position for a discussion about the impact of Islam on contemporary geopolitics.

There is little doubt in my own mind, after listening to many Christian leaders and thinkers expound their views about Islam in the popular press (particularly after the 9/11 tragedy), that an unfamiliarity with the history, tradition, and beliefs of Islam abounds in the United States and, probably, in most of the West as well. (This, by the way, has always struck me as strange since I have always considered Islam to be a "western" religion, along with Judaism and Christianity, as contrasted with the "eastern" religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and so forth.) Anyway, some of the more recent and scurrilous attacks on Islam and its founder -- "Muhammad is a pedophile," for instance -- by some "leaders" of Christian churches, show an abysmal ignorance of Islam and its founder, not to mention a frightening lack of perspective in this age of scandals involving Christian televangelists consorting with prostitutes and perpetrating financial fraud and Catholic priests going to prison for the sexual abuse of minors. I won't discuss the Muhammad-pedophilia issue here as Aslan provides the explanation in his book, but the charge made against the founder of Islam, while groundless and misunderstood, is also very stupid.

Most of "No god but God" is devoted to a history of Islam. But it must be understood that this is not a singular nor simple chronological presentation. I suspect there's a presumption among most Westerners, and particularly non-Muslim Americans, that Islam is a rather uncomplicated fanatical faith that is deliberately trying to destroy Western civilization and replace it with some sort of theocratic tyranny. Well, Aslan will straighten you about that. Islam is a very complex faith and his history of it is intertwined with accounts of internecine disputes over doctrinal and moral theology, over leadership and hegemony, over traditions as opposed to meeting contemporary necessities, and all sorts of other problems which any movement -- be it political, social, or religious -- is bound to face. These internal conflicts within Islam should not be a surprise to anyone knowledgeable about the history of Christianity. In fact, one of the things that intrigued me most about his account of the "philosophical" history of Islam is how it parallels in many respects the "philosophical" history of Christianity. After all, Christianity is hardly a "unified" movement and hasn't been for over a thousand years (think Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, just to mention three).

Islam, contrary to the common view of most Americans, is not a unified religious force with a totalitarian script written by theocrats who want to dominate the entire world. There are various factions -- "sects," if you will -- within Islam opposed to each other. This appears to have been the case almost from the beginning. While some factions within Islam have striven to create theocratic states, others have supported the building of democratic, pluralistic societies. Think about the current situation in Iraq with the disputes between the Shi'ites and the Sunni, both religious factions of Islam. Then think about Wahhabism, another faction which arose in Saudi Arabia and is much more "fundamentalistic." Think "Taliban," probably the most extremist of the Islamic factions. Islam is hardly a unified movement, anymore than modern Christianity is. Aslan goes to great lengths in his book to explain all this and does a superb job doing it. And he shows, I think, that Islam can live and thrive in a modern democratic and pluralistic world, without being the "threat" that many have envisioned.

I highly recommend this book. If there's one thing we need desperately today it is an understanding of other religions and philosophies. Islam is a mysterious faith to many Americans. Fear is most often founded upon ignorance. And there can no longer be a justification for ignorance about a major religion which is so impacting the world's stage today. The world is getting smaller every hour. Isolationism and parochialism are no longer viable options. We either learn to live together or we destroy each other. Read, contemplate, discuss, and understand. Aslan's book is a contribution to that protocol. ... Read more

2. The Trouble with Islam Today : A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith
by Irshad Manji
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
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Asin: 0312327005
Catlog: Book (2005-03-16)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 6791
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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This "call for reform" reads like an open letter to the Muslim world. Irshad Manji, a Toronto-based television journalist, was born to Muslim parents in South Africa. Her family eventually fled to Canada when she was two years old. Manji shares her life experiences growing up in a Western Muslim household and ask some compelling questions from her feminist-lesbian-journalist perspective. It is interesting to note that Manji has been lambasted for being too personal and not scholarly enough to have a worthwhile opinion. Yet her lack of pretense and her intimate narrative are the strengths of this book. For Muslims to dismiss her opinions as not worthy to bring to the table is not only elitist; it underscores why she feels compelled to speak out critically. Intolerance for dissent, especially women's dissent, is one of her main complaints about Islam. Clearly, her goal was not to write a scholarly critique, but rather to speak from her heartfelt concern about Islam. To her fellow Muslims she writes:

I hear from a Saudi friend that his country's religious police arrest women for wearing red on Valentines Day, and I think, Since when does a merciful God outlaw joy—or fun? I read about victims of rape being stoned for "adultery" and I wonder how a critical mass of us can stay stone silent.

She asks tough questions: "What's with the stubborn streak of anti-Semitism in Islam? Who is the real colonizer of the Muslims—-America or Arabia? Why are we squandering the talents of women, fully half of God's creation?" This is not an anti-Muslim rant. Manji also speaks with passionate love and hope for Islam, believing that democracy is compatible with its purest doctrine. Sure, she's biased and opinionated. But all religions, from Christianity to Buddhism to Islam should be accountable for how their leadership and national allegiances personally affect their followers. One would hope that this honest voice be met with a little more self-scrutiny and a little less anti-personal, anti-feminine, and anti-Western rhetoric. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

Reviews (142)

1-0 out of 5 stars truly disappointed
i was passing by in borders when this book's caught my attention. i grabbed it and in one hour was almost half way done. i'm lebanese and a muslim and to be honest i wasnt the least bit happy with this book. i did read it. i respect her opinions cuase it comes from HER experiences in life but i dont respect that she actually wrote a book about it. everyone has experiences some good some bad but when it comes to writing a book you need to take all experiences and come out with a conclusion espcially about something as important as religion. i've lived in lebanon most of my life. i went to an islamic elemtary school. my teachers were not imams and i had boys is my class. i learned about islam and i had all my questions answered. so maybe Irshad's experience is limited to teachers she had outside the islamic world(i.e the west). did she meets scholars in Al Azhar(highest islamic institution in Egypt) to have her questions answered?!Does she even know there are women in Al Azhar with Phds in islamic studies that have high posts just like men scholars..i doubt. did she really do any valid research? i truly's true every religion needs reform. but the picture she gave is really black and for any educated muslims like myself it's very hurtful to our pride and culture. She doesnt understand the rage against Jews?! Well to begin with Islamis teachings arenot against the Jews. ANY EDUCATED MUSLIM WOULD KNOW THAT.We respect Judaism because it's one of the religions mentioned in the Quran. the rage we have is against Israel. Maybe Irshad should have lived during Lebanons 15 years civil war to understand why? maybe she should have watched the news when the Qana massacre occured in South Lebanon. Maybe seeing those bloody pictures gave her an idea of the arabic rage against Israel.Alot of Maybes. I guess my last thought is going to be maybe she's the one with a closed mind and a closed heart to Islam but she doesnt realize it yet.

2-0 out of 5 stars People always forget about cultural relativisim
The premise behind this book is understandable but one must understand that islam is holistic.This book focuses on the cultural aspects of islam, something that varies throughout the world and shouldn't be taken as absolute nor as the majority.Read Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts (found @ to really understand how the oridnary Arab/Muslim feels about their own religion as well as the west.

1-0 out of 5 stars What I'll Be Thinking About This Year
This is a nice review, done by Yahiya Emerick.
I wasn't always a Muslim.There was a time when I prayed in Jesus' name and worried about getting baptized so I could get into heaven.I remember vividly my life as a Christian, though it is so alien to me now.No one but a convert to Islam can appreciate the differences between our way of life and whatever else is out there.Be of good cheer, though, for a `born' Muslim can also experience the same thing in that they can continually renew their faith through acts of piety and Ibadah reinforced with such actions as reflection, increased learning, fasting and in doing works of service to humanity.

Born Muslims, especially kids, often wonder about other ways of life.I've had so many students ask me about this that it doesn't surprise me anymore.It seems that they want to compare what they have now to what others are doing to either reaffirm in their hearts that what they are doing is right or to see "the other side" and determine if it might not sound better.This phenomenon is a result of the fact that our Muslim youth are thrown into the non-Muslim world completely by unaware parents and its only natural that someone thrown into water will be interested in learning how o swim, even if they weren't really intended to live in the water.It is also not unheard of that a Muslim will convert to Christianity even as it is normal for Christians to become Muslims.I feel pity for those who leave Islam.Not because the size of our Ummah was decreased by one, but because I know that the one who left Islam didn't know anything about it to begin with.I also shake my head sadly for the alternative to Islam is definitely not the intelligent choice.

We have four kinds of Islam out there: Cultural, Habitual, Invisible and Original.Cultural Islam as a phenomenon is well-known.We all talk about it.We all complain about it.Whenever we hear about some incredibly backward or ignorant custom from Muslim country X, Y, Z, we say, "Oh, that's cultural Islam."But I believe this label is a misnomer and a disservice.How can an ignorant custom ever be equated with Islam?Is it simply because the people perpetrating it happen to have Muslim sounding names?In the Middle East "good" Muslim men murder their daughters for even a whiff of dishonor.In India "good" Muslim families demand that the girl pay a dowry to the man.In Nigeria "good" Muslim women perform circumcision on unwilling young girls.In most of the Muslim world, "good" parents routinely pressure their daughters to marry against their will. I ask you, why do we ever even mention the word "Muslim" when describing these ignorant customs?They're not in the Qur'an.The people may not even be "good" in the authentic Islamic sense, perhaps indulging in alcohol, leaving off prayers, deceiving others, etc.By mislabeling these cultural customs as "Islamic" cultural customs we do ourselves a disservice.We set ourselves up for failure for no reason.It is these kinds of practices that confused Muslims reject when they convert to Christianity, not realizing that they were not Islamic practices to begin with.The sad thing is that they never knew what real Islam was.They never saw the diamond hiding behind their tainted ethnic cultures.

I recently read a book named, "The Trouble with Islam" by Irshad Manji.It was quite a piece of work.She is basically a self-professed lesbian Muslim "Refusenik".(Whatever that is supposed to mean.)Her premise was that she was questioning the validity of Islam because some Muslims have done bad things, chiefly her parents, but also ordinary Muslims in third world countries.I'm not kidding.This is the entire crux of her argument: some Muslims are bad so Islam must be bad.Try that standard with Christianity and ordinary Christians!It would fare far worse.In chapter after chapter she berated one ignorant cultural custom after another, cited terrorist activities here and there and traced a meandering path through the ideology of the Wahhabis and came away saying that she was "on the brink" of stepping out of Islam and that Islam was darn lucky she was giving it one thread of a last chance.

Conversely, she had nothing but praise for the Western world.Nothing bad ever happened or happens.Western religions are noble and kind.Everyone is a free thinker and savvy human rights pacifist.Women are well respected and they have complete freedom and equality and the civil liberties and rights of all are sacred.So, in her conclusion, Islam had better shape up or she would leave it.There is a word for arguments such as hers and anyone who has ever taken a course in logic and rhetoric will know it: fallacy.A fallacy is an argument that is not only not proved but ill-conceived at its core.It is contradictory, disingenuous and easily disproved with logic that will uncover where the mistakes in reasoning occurred.Sadly, however, Ms. Manji is not the first to use this odd type of mis-logic.

If we turned her logic on its head we could make the case for every Christian to leave Christianity and convert to Islam.She, and others like her, point to ignorant customs in the Muslim world as a sign of Islam's invalidity, well then, let's look at the opposite side of the mirror.Let us judge the West in as likewise a shallow fashion.Hmmm.Let's see.Where do we begin?I know, let's start with ignorant superstitious customs.In the modern Western world, a huge percentage of the population believes in astrology.They look for their horoscopes in the newspapers and even call "psychics" to get their future predicted.Each year millions of rabbits lose their feet so Americans can carry "lucky charms" in their pockets.In all American urban centers one can find storefront Tarot card readers, crystal ball gazers and even places to go to get a spell put on someone.Oh my gosh! Westerners are backward, superstitious fools!(Don't even get me started on the billion dollar drug trade or gambling.)

In 2004 the Catholic Church put out the figure that 3,900 priests (these are "representatives" of the religion) have been convicted of being child molesters.Imagine how many have not been caught in the last thousand years!United States government crime statistics report that a very large number of children are molested by non-priests every year as well.Incest is also widespread.Oh my gosh!Does Christian culture teach, or condone or tacitly support child molestation?Every few minutes a woman is raped in the United States by fellow Christian and Jewish citizens.It is so pervasive that it has been called an epidemic.Are Christian values really that depraved?And let's not forget the thousands of annual beatings, murders and abuses of women and girls by spouses and boyfriends.It is an everyday fact of life.Does Christian culture encourage spousal abuse?The Bible does say that women must submit to their husbands.The Bible also says to kill all the men, women, children and even babies of your captured enemies, (but to save the virgin girls as slaves).It's all there in the Bible, have you looked lately?

Then we turn to the real shocker: slavery.Christianity (and Judaism) explicitly encourage slavery in their holy books.It was just 150 years ago that slavery was perfectly legal here.But that was the past.What about today?There is still a lively slave trade in America with over 20,000 men, women and children sold yearly as slaves in the United States, according to the United States government.They are mostly involved in the sex trade...what!What kind of trade?Oh, pornography, prostitution, nude art, public sex, nude beaches, vulgar rap music promoting images of violence towards women...Oh the West is quite a depraved place!How else do you explain the conduct of "professional" American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq?And hey, weren't they all Christians, the Germans who killed 6 million Jews just sixty years ago?How about the French killing 1 million Algerian civilians or the Italians killing the Libyans or the British massacring people in India or the Crusaders who killed everyone in Jerusalem in Jesus' name?(I could list many more examples of Christian atrocities and even many where the Bible was used and clergy encouraged violence.Hey, the Catholic priests in Rwanda actually directed massacres!)

Now, if I were to follow Irshad Manji's kind of reasoning, I would have to say Christian culture is backward, women are oppressed, the Bible is flawed and filled with human rights problems and that Christianity better feel pretty darned lucky that we haven't given up on it yet.We could examine the extremist views of the Christian Right as an example of how the religion was "hijacked" and we could cite the enlightened attitude of Islam on all the above listed issues.Now I know the world is not so simplistic as to say I don't want to stay on the team because a few players are lousy, but a lot of people are just not that aware that they are making that kind of fallacious leap.

Are Muslim cultures stifling?Yes, but don't call them Muslim cultures.Call them Pakistani culture, Arab culture, Sudanese culture, or whatever, but call a spade a spade.When people from those cultures see another way of thinking, like when an Indian family moves from a traditional village in India to cosmopolitan Toronto or Los Angeles, of course they will begin to make comparisons.A first world country where money and opportunity abound will, of course, offer a better lifestyle than a third world country where poverty restricts opportunity and good government.But to blame their own culture's shortcomings and failings on a religion is ludicrous.I didn't leave Christianity simply because I saw so much drug abuse, alcoholism and immorality all around me.I left it because intellectually it couldn't stand up.

Sadly, what I've found when a "Muslim" leaves Islam, it is not because Christianity was intellectually better, but because the "Muslim" could not differentiate between what is culture and what is Islam.In other words, the "Muslim" didn't know much about authentic Islam.They just didn't know much about it.It's like asking the average American non-Muslim to explain something about Christianity.Beyond a few items related to Jesus they don't know too much.Most Muslims are in the same condition.The simple fact is that most people, whatever their "born" religion is, they don't really know much about it.I don't feel threatened anymore when I occasionally hear that someone left Islam, for I know now that they were never really a part of the Islam that I learned about and converted to.

Think well on this premise.People who convert to Islam usually describe it as the culmination of an intellectual and spiritual journey, while people who convert to Christianity usually describe it as a way to escape a stifling or backward way of life, i.e. the backward practices of their home country.In the first case, the person knows his own culture and discovers real Islam, while in the second case, the person knew his own culture but couldn't separate it from Islam.Thankfully, even after all the 9-11 inspired discrimination we innocent Muslim Americans (for not a single Muslim American was involved in that attack) suffer, and even after all the inane ideological assaults we suffer at the hands of the Christian Right, there is no stampede to leave the fold of Islam, rather more Christians are converting now than before and more born Muslims are taking a fresh look at Islam at its core because thoughtful people have discovered their life's journey and have seen through the hype and separated the cultural chaffe from the wheat and thus our community grows and marches from strength to strength.Allahu Akbar! By Yahiya Emerick

1-0 out of 5 stars revenge personal diary
The book was indeed funny and entertaining, but it's more of a rage of a woman who only looked at one piece of the puzzle instead of the whole picture. If Irshad's goal was to call for reform then she dialed the wrong number. Her style is not scholary by any means. I recommend the readers to read the following book "Beyond veil and holy war" by Ahmed Saleem. It gives a more accurate understanding of Islam and its image. It is a shame that Irshad wrote such a book about such a great religion that is such misunderstood in such a critical time!

2-0 out of 5 stars Riding on the Women in Islam wave....
While Manji's call for reform is compelling, her delivery is alienating.If she was trying to reform her fellow Muslims I can't imagine she had many calling her back.The book was interesting, yes, and often funny, but other times simplistic and even insulting. ... Read more

3. The Sword of the Prophet: History, Theology, Impact on the World
by Srdja Trifkovic, Serge Trifkovic
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.96
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Asin: 1928653111
Catlog: Book (2002-09-11)
Publisher: Regina Orthodox Press
Sales Rank: 3336
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (64)

5-0 out of 5 stars A sobering read
This book is a real eye opener. It describes Islam's history of violence and intolerance and the West's self imposed blindness to the nature of Islamic culture. In the latter part, the book explains how the U.S. has been supporting radical Muslim governments and terrorists all over the world for several decades to further the economic interests of large American corporations and their interest in globalization. It's well documented and clear-headed. One message of the book is clear: we can no longer afford to suppress Christianity in the U.S. while we promote secularism and Islam in the name of evenhandedness. Forget worrying about after school Bible clubs. If we continue on the road we're on now, our grandchildren may be wearing turbans and burkhas as they study the Koran in school.

5-0 out of 5 stars Islam is a global, militarized terrorist organization.
If you believe in freedom, reason, and inalienable human rights, "Islam: The Sword of the Prophet" might be the most important book you will ever read. The sub-title--"A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam"--is unfortunate, because the book is not a slanted, anti-Islamic polemic. "The Hard and Bitter Truth About Islam" would be more accurate.

Islam is not merely a religion. As the Muslims proudly boast, Islam is a complete way of life-an all-encompassing social, political and legal system that breeds a worldview peculiar to itself. Islam is a global ideology that insists that the sharia, the revealed will of God, is the only sanction for law. Islam insists that any dissent from the sharia is heresy, and furthermore, that heretics be put to the sword.

The terrorism of 9/11 is not an accidental by-product of some temporary crisis that Islam is currently undergoing. Violence and terror are central, fundamental and indispensable tenets of the Islamic faith. The terrorist acts of 9/11 were completely in keeping with the commands of Allah's book and the example of Muhammad. In slaying infidels, Bin Laden and his followers were nothing if not pious and devout Muslims-doing exactly what the Koran commands of a good, observant, religious Muslim.

Women--especially those warmed by the cuddly and fluffy-bunny image of Islam presented by PBS and American intellectual elites-should read this book to learn the Muslim definition of a shameful and disgusting awrat. Hint: "The woman is 'awrat.' When she goes outside the house, the devil welcomes her," and accordingly, women must walk in the middle of the road, cover themselves in black from head to toe, and cannot speak without their husband's permission. As Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, said: "You have put us [women] on the same level as a donkey and a dog."

Beware of Usama bin Laden's fellow-travelers in America's Fifth Column. He who has the gold-rules, and as Dr. Trifkovic points out, Wahhabi money from the House of Saud has paid huge endowments to fund Islamic studies departments at renowned universities such as Harvard, the University of California, the University of London, and many others. As a result, the pro-Islamic "tolerance" of many Western intellectuals is really just moral cowardice trying to pass itself off as principle. Many of today's intellectuals and professors have found a new way to cash in when it comes to tenure, promotion, lecture fees, book offers, social acceptance and psychic reassurance.

The author-Dr. Serge Trifkovic-has been viciously slandered by a legion of Muslim "holy warriors" and apologists. One of the more prominent character assassins goes by the name of Steven Schwartz-a Muslim whose real name is Suleyman Ahmad. In his book, Trifkovic explains the machinations of poison pens like Ahmad. Under the Islamic concept of Al-Taqiya, which means 'dodging the threat,' Muslims are encouraged "to use subterfuge to defeat the enemy. They [are] ordered to infiltrate the enemy's cities and plant the seeds of discord and sedition. Sometimes they argue that Jihad is not aimed at the people about to be conquered, that they are not targeted. Taqiya is reflected in our own time in the attempts by Muslim activists to present Islam favorably, replete with tolerance and peace, faith and charity, equality and brotherhood. The poor, 'misunderstood Muslims' tell us that Jihad doesn't really mean 'holy war;' Jihad means 'striving for Allah' and 'inner struggle.'"

In his declaration of Jihad against Americans, bin Laden made it clear that he was not using the word jihad in the sense of "moral striving", but in the classical and traditional Islamic sense of a holy war against infidels. In this proclamation, bin Laden called on his followers "to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military. . . . By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can. Likewise we call on the Muslim leaders and youth and soldiers to launch attacks against the armies of the American devils and against those who are allied with them from among the helpers of Satan. . . ."

Oriana Fallaci was right when she warned: "Islamist terrorism is not, as we are so often told, the perversion of a great faith, [nor] the work of a disillusioned and obscurantist fringe. It was part and parcel of Islam itself, which she referred to as 'this mountain that for 1,400 years has not moved, has not emerged from the abyss of its blindness, has not opened its doors to the conquest of civilization, and has wanted nothing to do with liberty and justice and democracy and progress."

"Putting an end to Western dominance is an ongoing project for the world's Muslims--even the ones who live among us and may be best understood as an advance guard. 'You do not understand, or you do not wish to understand that if we remain passive, if we do not fight, the jihad will triumph. And it will destroy the world . . . .'"

Per Dr. Trifkovic: "Marxism, Fascism and Islam have in common the lust for other people's lives and property, and the desire to exercise complete control over their subjects' lives. All three have been justified by a self-referential system of thought and belief that perverts the meanings of words, stunts the sense of moral distinctions, and utterly and completely destroys lives and souls. . . .Islam is a collective psychosis seeking to become global, and any attempt to compromise with such madness is to become part of the madness oneself."

America's problem is not prejudice against Islam or Muslims, but folly in the face of a militarized and genocidal terrorist regime that seeks to kill us all.

5-0 out of 5 stars a scary book
this book is so scary, especially since the growing threat of militant islam is dangerous to democracy.

read this book, please!

5-0 out of 5 stars A most imortant book
I can't overemphasize how important this book it.

Most people in the USA are so pro-Palestinian that they are oblivious to the dangers of Islam.

What they don't realize, is that after they are done with Israel, the militant Muslims will come after the infidels of the USA.

The biggest secret is that Islam hates the USA.

Read this book and see why.

1-0 out of 5 stars If possible, I would have given this book less than 1 star
It is not a surprise to read Srdja Trifkovic's racist and bias lies about Islam. Trifkovic's views are about as well documented as is his hatred for the Muslim religion. This book is an obvious attempt to appeal to Americans who because of the political correctness in this society don't reveal their true prejudice of Arabs and Muslims and are happy when someone else does it for them. The only people who can benefit from this reading are those who already hate Islam but afraid to labeled "racist" and therefore relish in Trifkovic's words of hatred. I recommend anyone who does not already hate Islam and Arabs and would like to learn more about the religion read Edward Said's "Covering Islam" or Said Aburish's "A Brutal Friendship". ... Read more

4. An Introduction to Islam (2nd Edition)
by Frederick Mathewson Denny
list price: $74.33
our price: $74.33
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Asin: 0023285192
Catlog: Book (1993-07-12)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 261620
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The book provides readers with a thorough and unifiedtopical introduction to the global religious community of Islam. KEYTOPICS: The book examines is connections with Judeo-Christian morals. Theintegration of the doctrinal and devotional elements of Islam enables readersto see how Muslims think and live. It also reviews pre-Islamic history soreaders can see how Islam developed historically. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Do you want to learn about Islam?
Let's say you know nothing about Islam. But you want to learn everything about it that can be learned in one book, and in a readable format. Pick up Denny. He covers the full gamet of psychology, religion, history, sociology, and much more, in a way the layman can easily understand. There are times when he seems to accept a little too much the Muslim version of history without investigating it further, but in general he seems to respect Islamic beliefs and still maintain a historical critical perspective. Especially helpful is the background in Mesopotamian beliefs, Judaism, and Christianity provided before hand. It frames the Islamic movement historically, and also provides an easy etic segway for the typical Western reader. And while Denny goes into great detail on orthodox and folk Islam, he is to be additionally commended for the sections on Sufism, which often get short shrift in scholarly works on Islam.

The title is apt. After reading this, one will know Islam thorougly at the introductory level. ... Read more

5. Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs
by Ergun Mehmet Caner, Emir Fethi Caner
list price: $11.99
our price: $8.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0825424003
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Sales Rank: 16436
Average Customer Review: 2.79 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Islam is often obscured by a veil of unfamiliar beliefs, customs, and practices. We watch intriguing images of Islamic nations on our televisions.We hear words like Muslim and Jihad defined in conflicting terms.

What is Islam, truly, when you peek behind the veil? Who can explain this culture with clarity and precision?

Raised as Sunni Muslims by a leader in the Muslim faith, brothers Ergun and Emir Caner have lived the Muslim life. Now Christians and highly respected theology professors, the Caner brothers are in a unique position to present an unprecedented insider¹s look at Islam.

Unveiling Islam is a sympathetic yet uncompromising presentation of the entire scope of Islam--its practices, ethics, and beliefs, including the primary differences between Christianity and Islam. With a basic knowledge of Islam in place, the authors then present a practical strategy Christians can use to open a productive dialogue with Muslims. ... Read more

Reviews (76)

5-0 out of 5 stars AMERICA WAKE UP - THIS IS ISLAM
* MY OPINION: I'm an Indonesian who happens to be Christian, which is a minority back home - Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population - and often persecuted though not as bad as Christians in e.g. Saudi Arabia. As I read the book, I can't thank the authors enough for giving light to the world about the real Islam. Maybe in the good 'ol US of A, where there is freedom of religion (thx to the Judeo-Christian influence), Islam is a peaceful religion. But can't you see how many more Christians are being persecuted in Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia etc, because non-Christians has to "SUBMIT" to the "PEACEFUL" religion? How odd that the effort of Drs Caner is blasted with condemnation. They're just writing about the real deal here, not about bigotry or racism.
* CONTENT: This book is ideal for those who just started learning about Islam. Some chapters start with real life example based on cultural differences between Muslim and Christian. Like in Ch. 4, Tony (a Christian) has a Muslim roomate Askar, and they shared about their religion. Tony found out that Askar knew some Bible stories, but Askar's version somehow came out "changed". My Muslim friends like to say they've read all the contents of the Bible, but actually they're just making a statement that the Quran is the final revelation from God and it's the most complete Book, and once you've read it, then you've read the whole Bible. Or about the Trinity, how Muslims believe that Christians worship 3 gods, and one of the Trinity is Mary. So you see, Christianity and Islam is NEVER the same. Drs Caner approach to Islam in this book is gentle, but firm in stating the fundamental difference between the two faiths. They're not bashing Islam as some review has overly stated. If I were to write a book on Islam based on how Islamic countries treated its non-Muslim minions, I wouldn't be as compassionate as Drs Caner...
* OTHER MUST READ: If you want to go deep, read Norman Geisler's "Answering Islam" - it's got all the works; and Bruce McDowell's "Muslims and Christians at the Table.." - good how-to book in befriending Muslims. Don't miss "Torn Veil" by Gulshan Esther, riveting account of a Pakistani woman conversion to follow Christ. This lady literally had to go through all the trials, from being disowned by her rich family to being thrown to jail, but she would not forsake Christ.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very informative someone learning about Islam
This book is a great place to start for anyone who wants to learn about Islam. I'd especially recommend it since the events of September 11, 2001.

I suspect the book was somewhat hastily put together to get it out right after 9/11; it could go into a lot more depth on many of the subjects, but it is a great place to start. What makes it somewhat unique is that both of the authors have abandoned Islam to follow Christ.

Kudos to the Caners, some of the few who have the bravery and honesty to stand up and tell the truth about Islam, a truth that our "popular media" and even our own President don't want to acknowledge: that Islam is not a "religion" of peace, but of war and of "jihad."

The Caner's don't "slam" Islam in this book; rather they present the subject in a way that urges Christians to pray for and reach out to Muslims with the Truth of the Gospel of Christ. One whole chapter is devoted to offering suggestions how Christians can witness to their Muslim friends and/or neighbors. They quote extensively from the Koran and other Islamic writings, and contrast those writings with the Bible.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Look at Life in Islam by a Former Muslim
The author is a wonderful speaker and has written equally as well in this book. He is fair and shoots straight from the hip regarding fundamental Islamic beliefs and creeds. He uses the very Koran to back up his writing, which gives this book credibility and makes it a powerful tool for Christians to understand where Muslims are coming from.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not bad... but no suprises!
This book is well written and certainly helped me further in my thoughts and curiosity towards religions and a way of life. Having traveled through those regions like Jedda, I certainly can easily say as a white woman with my own life, own opinions, and respect whether male or female, that it is not a 'way of life ' I would certainly CHOOSE to be in. I don't care what people say. The Muslim belief is that women are less than men. Did you all know that public executions take place regularly (actually every week - Friday to be exact) in Jedda. Yep, you can go (if you are a man that is) to watch them! And don't be a woman in a car accident as no matter how badly you are injured, the ambulence drivers will only take the male/males in the car and leave any women. Hard to believe, but true. Nice religion huh!?!

I'll admit. I'm an atheiest. I have not come on this decision easily, but have yet to be proved of anything I would choose to believe in aside from myself and the goodness around me. The destruction of us as human beings is the crutch we all require, whether Christianity or Muslim, to fall back on in order to not take responsibility for our own lives. Religion and real estate. The two backers of the best wars of this world! Religion is control. With control comes complete power. I get a nervous feeling watches masses of people in a religious state, whether at Church, or at Mecca... in a tent in the USA listening to some second hand car salesman pretending to be the messenger of God... and it scares me how easily we all sercome to a book that some person wrote. These are all just people... people. No better or worse than you or me. Yet we live our lives by their teachings???? I don't get it! I just don't get it!!

Certainly buy this book. It will fill you in on what you need to know about Islam. But never forget. ANY religion that treats ANYONE less than another, is not a religion... it is a cult. Sad thing is that includes most religions around the world. John Lennon said it best: "Imagine no relgion, it's easy if you try". Yes I do imagine... and smile.

3-0 out of 5 stars An interesting introduction, but not the whole story
I seem to be one of the very few reviewers on this page who has mixed feelings about this book. The message it preaches is not an easy one to swallow. Though it claims to be a 'sympathetic' portrayal of Islam, I found it to be far more negative than sympathetic. It is also, I am sad to say, much harsher with individual passages from the Qu'ran than with isolated passages from the Bible - and I say that as a practicing Christian. Consequently it is all-too easy to rush to take an extreme view of the book. Those who have little experience of Islam outside the atrocities of 9/11 will find it an illuminating expose on the true nature of the religion. Those who are Muslim, or are familiar with practitioners of the faith, will probably find that it grossly distorts the true religion in a poor attempt at propaganda. Neither of these views are quite correct.

Although the Caner brothers ask interesting questions which do need asking (namely: have Islamic terrorists twisted the true message of the Islamic faith...or, alternatively, have peace-loving Muslims deceived themselves into neglecting key tenets of the religion?) the refusal to acknowledge the positive aspects of Islam weakens their argument somewhat. I have numerous Muslim friends in this country, and I can confidently say that much of what the Caner brothers assert comes down to matters of culture, NOT matters of Islam. For example, my best friend informs me that in no way does the Qu'ran advocate the wearing of the Burkha. Women, apparently, are instructed to cover their hair - not the entire face. The Caner brothers imply that the wearing of the Burkha is an instruction of the Qu'ran. Nor do the westernised Islamic men I know beat their wives. Finally, it is usually *much* easier to make friends with an Islamic family than is portrayed in "Unveiling Islam".

However, I am very surprised by some of comments in the one-star reviews on this page. I am left with the feeling that some reviewers stopped reading the text once they realised it would not conform to their expectations. One reviewer writes: 'One has to only take the Crusades into consideration to realise how much innocent blood was spewed at the sword in the name of Christ, the savior.' Fair point. Unfortunately, this point was addressed several times by the authors in their book. They make it patently clear that the Crusades were bloody and horrible - but contrary to the teachings of Jesus. The point they make throughout the book is that any blood shed in the name of Islam may not necessarily be contrary to the teachings of Muhammed. Another reviewer asserts: 'this book does not use any authentic Hadiths'. Hadiths, however, appear repeatedly in each chapter. Whether they are 'authentic' or not, I don't know - what, exactly, is an unauthentic Hadith? Another reviewer states that: 'The brothers never bother to explain...why their father disowned them.' Yes, they do. They point to the passages in the Qu'ran which advocate the parental rejection of children who turn away from Islam. The brothers also put forward a pretty convincing argument for the interpretation of Jihad as a physical war, not an internal war.

The best thing about this book is that I put it down thirsting for more information. Because of "Unveiling Islam" I will be reading the Qu'ran, and then comparing it with the Bible. I wish to read the Hadiths. I want to find out more about the Crusades, and more about the different Islamic sects.

I recommend it as a starting point, because the questions it raises are uncomfortable, yet highly valuable. Unfortunately, though, the biased slant makes this book too unreliable to be regarded as the whole story. ... Read more

6. Nine Parts of Desire : The Hidden World of Islamic Women
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385475772
Catlog: Book (1995-12-01)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 9704
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Geraldine Brooks spent two years as a Middle East news correspondent, covering the death of Khomeini and the like. She also learned a lot about what it's like for Islamic women today.Brooks' book is exceedingly well-done--she knows her Islamic lore and traces the origins of today's practices back to Mohammed's time. Personable and very readable, Brooks takes us through the women's back door entrance of the Middle East for an unusual and provocative view. ... Read more

Reviews (110)

5-0 out of 5 stars Eyes and Minds Need to Be Opened
This book was an eye-opener for me, as I was woefully ill-informed on the topics Brooks covered in her book. I found her approach to be balanced in her attempt to show the varying ways women are treated in different Islamic countries. She NEVER presents herself as an Islamic scholar but merely as an observer of the various countries which she covered during her years in the Middle East.

One thing that really shocked me was how the Koran seems to be interpreted by different groups for different reasons. It seems that anyone can rationalize behaviors by finding an interpretation of the Koran to support such actions. And each one believes that he is correct!

To have a religion based on these varying interpretations is one thing, but to have entire cultures and political movements based on them is very frightening. Cultural practices seem to be intricately tied up with religious interpretation and vice versa.

I find ANY religious extremism to be anathema, whether it is Islam or some other religion. When one refuses to believe that there are alternate ways to live a good life or to attain eternal happiness, this is very dangerous and leads to violence and wars, as can be seen in the history of civilization. I also am of the opinion that wherever (in the West or the Middle East or anywhere) any kind of religious fundamentalism exists, women suffer.

I also realize that this is a Western look at women in Islamic countries and that there are many women living happy and contented lives in Muslim societies. The author never says otherwise despite what is written in some reviews.

I could not understand those who said that Brooks was totally wrong in her reporting and that Muslim women are protected and treasured (and educated) -- when fully documented atrocities toward women are committed in Muslim countries and when women in Afghanistan are not permitted to go to school past the age of 12.

While I do not think this book should be the only source that one should use to try to understand the Islamic countries and their cultures, it certainly provides a thorough background and basic explanations based on Brook's experience while living in these countries. I read this just after seeing the incredible documentary, "Beneath the Veil" and thus concluded that Brook's reporting was accurate. It certainly opened my eyes and made me want to learn more.

4-0 out of 5 stars read as a personal account, not factual history
Once you recognize that Ms. Brooks has her own hang-ups about woman's role in the world of Islam, you get a lot more out of this book of her travels in the early 1990s as an Australian woman to different Muslim countries and the women and men whom she meets. The topics covered are fascinating --- how Muslim women train for battle, their university studies, her own encounters with Queen Noor of Jordan (who spoke at my university graduation during that time, as her adopted daughter was in my class.) I'll admit I skipped the chapter on cliterodectomies --- I was too squeamish.

Ms. Brooks inserts snippets from the Koran and Prophet Mohammad's life into her text, and I am unsure of their accuracy. Also perturbing is her tone towards Prophet Mohammad --- we know he is human, but she seems to insinuate some of the baser human qualities upon him. I felt this is very disturbing and disrespectful, and was not even necessary in her accounts.

This is a good book to be read (with a grain of salt) for a snapshot of people in different countries at different moments in time, but by no means should anyone take it as a definitive text on a religion.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great book on Women in Islam
A very interesting read for anyone interested in the cause of women in Islam. Some might find it biased - the author makes her opinion very clear and her view is not impartial.

However, she makes some very good parallels between the situation in the Prophet's time and what it is today - and this is not a pretty picture. The testimonials of women is various countries of the Middle East are very enlightening and some make the situation of women in those countries very frightening. It is also interesting to see some of these women's view towards their culture, their society and the progress made by Muslim women.

It is probably one of the best book, if not the best book I have read on women in Islam and I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Experience of Our Sisters
This is an exquisitely written book. Brooks has great talent for pulling the reader into the mind of the people she tells about, and especially, I found as a man, pulling you into the minds and lives of women. I found myself empathizing with the women in ways that only real life can provide. It is amazing what Brooks has experienced, but it is far more amazing what the women she tells of have experienced.

Brooks writes honestly and directly about the good and bad of Islam, and how it influences women. She doesn't pull any punches, but also is not writing to denigrate, as she finds aspects of official and folk Islam that harm women, and aspects that help women. She speaks of the positive attitude Islam has towards sexuality, being largely uncorrupted by the Greek dualism that invaded later Christianity, so that, within marriage, Muslims are encouraged to celebrate the gift of God in sex. Indeed, this provides the title of the book, as Ali, the 4th Khalifa, speaks of how sexual desire is 1/10th the man's, and 9/10ths the womans. Of course, this provides later motive to sequester women, put them in hijab, and restrict them, so that the "ever-devouring vagina", as later writers speak of it, does not overcome the men around them.

Since Brooks relies primarily on her experiences, with what she's seen with her own eyes and heard with her own ears, she is hard to argue with. This is the plight of many women in the Muslim world. But lest we think these are limited experiences of one Western woman talking with a few Arab and Persian women scattered in a few countries, Brooks has also done extensive research to intersperse between her stories- relying on the Qur'an, Hadith, Ijtihad, and Muslim history. But mostly, on women's experiences- for, let's be honest, the perspective of women is largely missing from the official sources, as it is in most religions- with notable exceptions like the wonderful Hadiths of Aisha. Most of which were discarded by early Islamic jurists, as Brooks points out.

One regret, is that there is not more here about the countries of North Africa, particularly, Morocco, with the exception of one paragraph paying tribute to that great Moroccan feminist, Fatima Mernissi. But of course, this book is about Brooks' experiences, not a research text, and her journalistic experience was much more centered on the Middle East.

I found one of Brooks' most powerful arguments to be on issues like FGM, Female Genital Mutilation. She shares how Muslims say it's not authorized or encouraged in the Qur'an. How it's not only Muslims who do it, but some African Christians. I've hear this many times before myself. They're quite right. But Brooks brings up the sapient question- why isn't there more spoken against it from the minbar? Why are 20% of Muslim women in areas where this is practiced? If Islam is a religion that supports women, or if there are at least some aspects of it that are positive towards women (as I believe there are), why isn't there more said publicly about the plight of women, on many issues, to change things, to encourage women's emancipation, using the wealth of resources? Why is Mernissi such a lone worker in the night?

1-0 out of 5 stars Another book that misleads and adds to hate not understandin
Brooks officiates herself as an authority on the Arab world and on Islam. Her knowledge is that of a journalist, not a scholar. She is not any different from the extreme muslim fanatics that view the Western world as decedant and corrupt world. They view the West with their own narrow and biased eyes. She and they are in the same camp. They both generate misleading hate and add to confusion by looking on each other's world in extremist disposition.

Brooks tries to be objective in her review only to discredit herself immediatly with her sanctimoneous rejection of edicts in Islam that are not any different from what exists in Judaism. You do not see any comparative paragraphs on how Judaism treats Jewish women!! Some of her translations of Quran are incorrect as well.

There is good and bad in any society and in any faith. Satirizing Islam and blurring the lines between the faith and tradition is not acceptable. Also pulling on weak hadiths and selecting exreme cases to say "look ... here what Islam stands for and here is what the Arabs are all bout" is to say the least rediculous.

If I wrote a book about the West that depicts it as the world of AIDS, wife beaters, prostitution, teenage pregnancies, drugs, rape, and dumping of the elderly in terrible nursing homes and turned ot the world and said ... look this is what the West is all about!!! am I being true to my readers! No ... I would be simply misleading them by officiating myself as a false authority to cover bias and prejudice and that is exactly what Brooks does. We should of course believe that her being a Jewish feminist has nothing to do with her nasty coverage of Islam and of the Arab world ... give me a break! ... Read more

7. The Complete Idiot's Guide(R) to Understanding Islam
by Yahiya Emerick, Yahiya John Emerick
list price: $18.95
our price: $17.05
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0028642333
Catlog: Book (2001-10-05)
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Sales Rank: 75996
Average Customer Review: 3.77 out of 5 stars
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It may surprise readers to discover that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, according to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam. "However, even more eye-opening is the fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America," writes author Yahiya Emerick (How to Tell Others About Islam). Paradoxically, Islam is also one of the most misunderstood and maligned religions in North America. Fortunately, Emerick has written a viable antidote to the widespread confusion and ignorance. Using the Idiot's Guide's formula of questions and answers, sidebars, and small, easy-to-digest essays, Emerick makes Islam accessible to anyone who is inclined to learn more about this influential religion. Readers have much to glean from this comprehensive and balanced guidebook--primarily that Islam is a prayerful, peace-loving religion that has been misused in the name of terror, just as Hitler and other extremists have misused Christianity throughout history. Emerick devotes an entire section to "Looking at Women in Islam," in which readers can sort through even more misconceptions. The Idiot's Guide title belies the integrity of the book, which is an important contribution for our times. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

Reviews (61)

4-0 out of 5 stars can be used as a reference book
Like all of the Idiot's Guides I've read it has the cute drawings, humor, and is fairly easy to read. It contains a wealth of information about Islam throughout history, basic Muslim beliefs, sects in the religion, Islam in world affairs today, Islam in the U.S., etc. While I disagree with a few things that he mentioned in the women in Islam section and feel that he writes from a conservative point of view, overall it's a good book that will give you an idea about what Islam is all about.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam is a very good book. It lays out the brass tacks of Islam in a clear and concise manner. The structure and flow of the book are uniform and the topics covered are essential in eliminating common fallacies. However, one major drawback of the book is the 'evangelizing' tone. It seems as if the author is preaching in almost every paragraph. Another shortcoming is the fact that the author tries to compare Islam with Christianity and explains why Islam is a complete religion by pointing out the various loopholes in the Christian faith. Eventhough I'm a Muslim I was a little unnerved with this constant comparison. There are definitely other ways to educate people about this religion, the least effective of which is to undermine another's faith.

The author's intentions were noble but his approach was flawed. If you can overlook these drawbacks, the book is definitely a must-read.

2-0 out of 5 stars more opinion than fact in this book
To give a balanced and equal report on Traditional Islamic beliefs vs. Radical Extremist Islamic beliefs, I read this book as well as 3 others. Each had their own take on history and facts about Islam. This book was the only one I read that I absolutely could not stand. The author whined about so many things and gave nothing but skewed opinions in most of the chapters. It made me distrust the factual writing that I know was buried under the opinionated garbage in here. I enjoy hearing both sides of the story, and although not Muslim myself, I feel bad for the history and problems Islamic people have faced and are facing but this book had the opposite effect on me. I'm sure that there are much better books out there if you are looking for black and white facts and not biased opinion. I gave this book two stars instead of one because the author did cover most of the major questions about Islam.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!!!! A MUST READ
If you are a scholar of theology or a light reader wanting a brief glance as Islam this is a great book for you! Very easy to read yet amazing insightful. I would recommend this to everyone to add to their personal collection.

1-0 out of 5 stars The title says it all!
If you are a complete idiot you will believe that this book will explain Islam to you. This book is an excuse to whitewash the actions of muslim mayhem makers. Everything bad that happens is the fault of the Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc., certainly not the muslims. Careful choice of Koranic messages is used to deny responsibility and distort the actual passages as written in the Koran itself. This is a propaganda piece not an honest explaination of the truth of Islam. The true measure of the "goodness" of a religion is how it urges its adherents to behave toward others. Look around with open eyes and the truth is clear. Either the Islamic way or else; some choice! Read the summary near the end and it clearly states, in part, muslims want complete compensation for every real or imagined slight they have ever experienced (even when it happened because of their own actions). That was the truest statement in the book.
Read instead, the Koran itself (in translation) and you will learn far more. ... Read more

8. The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1591022495
Catlog: Book (2005-01-31)
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Sales Rank: 11392
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Robert Spencer has here assembled a collection of documents devastating to PC myth and multiculturalist wishful thinking. Anyone concerned about the dangers of politically motivated distortions of Islamic theology and history should not miss this explosive and enlightening volume." JEFFREY RUBIN, Editor, Conservative Book Club

"A necessary corrective to the prevailing opinion fostered among academics by Karen Armstrong, Abou El Fadl, et al. that Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and tolerance. The work brings to light the total suppression of human rights in Islamic society, the true meaning of jihad (armed conflict against all nonbelievers), and the horrors of dhimmitude (life for Christians and Jews under Islamic law). It should be required reading for all those who seek a true understanding of the socioreligious basis for the rise of Osama bin Laden and his network of international Islamic terror." PAUL L. WILLIAMS, PhD, Author of OSAMA'S REVENGE: THE NEXT 9/11--WHAT THE MEDIA AND THE GOVERNMENT HAVEN'T TOLD YOU

THE MYTH OF ISLAMIC TOLERANCE brings to light the deeply ingrained historical, cultural, and religious elements of a profound modern crisis--the violence, fanaticism, and contempt for outsiders that characterizes much of the Islamic world today. This wide-ranging group of essays clearly explains how these poisonous attitudes are rooted in laws and cultural habits that are connected organically to the concept of jihad and its corollary institution, dhimmitude--which are in turn a primary impetus for global terrorism today. The scholars presented in this essential volume come up with many surprising and disturbing conclusions. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars HOW LOW CAN ONE GO???
Reading some of the other views I am shocked and amazed that amazon has even published some of them, especially when they're made up completely and utterly like OUT OF THIN AIR!!!

For Example:

"The September 11, 2001 murderers acted canonically" - As a muslim living in the west and no matter how much one hates america and her 814tch israel for all their heinous crimes against Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and the other contries THEY ARE PLANNING TO ATTACK THIS VERY MOMENT. I can assure you that the events on sept11 were not legitimate from an islamic point of view!!! Read the WHOLE (not just a few lines) QURAN and find out for yourself, make up your own minds, dont follow clowns who are out their to make money and cause hatred between groups of people.

That apostasy is not today mentioned in the legal codes of most Islamic countries, Warraq notes, hardly implies freedom of religion for Muslims in those states; their penal codes are filled with Islamic laws. The myth of Islamic tolerance is defied by the massacre and extermination of the Zoroastrians in Iran; the million Armenians in Turkey??? **Is not Turkey a secular state??? banning the hijab going further against islamic law than most western countries???**

the Buddhists and Hindus in India???**- Did you not see the events unfold where thousands of muslims were slaughtered openly in riots of gujarat, India???**

the more than six thousand Jews in Fez, Morocco, in 1033; hundreds of Jews killed in Cordoba between 1010 and 1013; the entire Jewish community of Granada in 1066??? **keep spitting this b.s it aint gonna get you anywhere; everyone knows the extinction of jews from spain (where they were allowed to flourish and develop their own religion under islamic rule) was due to the reconquista where muslims were too slaughtered and forced to convert to christianity or die.**

"The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam," Bernard Lewis wrote in 1968 in the Encyclopedia of Islam. "The myth was invented in 19th century Europe as a reproach to Christians-and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews...."**- PATHETIC, HOW CAN YOU LIE AND CALL SOMETHING A MYTH, WITH A MYTH OF YOUR OWN???**

Until the late 19th century, Jews in North Africa, Yemen and other oriental Muslim lands, were obliged to live isolated, in special quarters, and "were constrained to wear distinctive clothing." **- JEWS LIVE IN THEIR OWN GHETTOES NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THEY SEE THEMSELVES INCOMPATIBLE WITH GENTILES**

The International Institute of Islamic Thought was established in 1981 to Islamify Western history and thought. Western thinkers succumb to jihad and dhimmitude... **A FACT ABOUT A CREATED WORD DHIMMITUDE - JEWS IN AMERICA HAVE LONG BEEN WANTING TO GET SYMPATHY FOR THEIR PETTY CAUSE THAT IS ISRAEL, THEY CONJOUR UP ALL SORTS OF LIES AND TALES.**



Only testimony can counter the pathological trends. Thus, Walid Phares and Bat Ye'or tackle the forgotten tragedy of the Middle Eastern Christians-10 to 12 million Egyptian Copts; 1.5 Lebanese Maronites, Orthodox, Melkites and others; 7 million Anglican, Protestant and Catholic southern Sudanese Africans; 1 million Christian Syrians; 1 million Iraqi Assyrians, Nestorians, Chaldeans, and Jacobites; 500,000 Iranian Persian, Armenian and Assyrian Christians; and perhaps 100,000 Christian Arab Palestinians. Patrick Sookhdeo and Mark Durie cover the rise of anti-Christian persecutions in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia since Sept. 11, 2001. ** - THE LIES GO ON AND ON - (EG/ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS??? THE ONLY SUCH THE WORLD KNOWS IS BY THE ITF - ISRAELI TERROR FORCE - WHEN THEY INVADED, SLAUGHTERED, RAPED AND STOLE EVERYTHING IN SIGHT, GO AND MEET A PALESTINIAN CHRISTIAN AND ASK THEM!!!)





5-0 out of 5 stars The legacy of dhimmitude
"A thing without a name escapes understanding," warns preeminent Islamic scholar Bat Ye'or of jihad and dhimmitude-the Islamic institutions of, respectively, war and perpetual servitude imposed on conquered non-Muslim peoples. Both, Ye'or notes in an essay entitled "Historical Amnesia," are in the process of globalization.

This is not the benign economic globalization that most Westerners laud. Islamic jihad and dhimmitude trade in every available means-military, political, technological and intellectual. And if the towering collection of 63 essays (including Ye'or's) contained in this new book is to be believed, these specific Islamic processes are globalizing at a disturbingly rapid pace. The book, courageously assembled by Robert Spencer, provides historical and contemporary profiles of jihad and dhimmitude.

In six sections, the book delineates how Islamic ideology has affected non-Muslims both historically and in the contemporary world. The first three sections cover the myth vs. historical realities and Islamic law and practice regarding non-Muslims. The last three sections cover how the myth of Islamic tolerance has affected contemporary geopolitics, power politics at the United Nations and, finally, academic and public discourse. It is Ibn Warraq's forward and the latter 400 pages in which this book really shines. He explains:

Islam is a totalitarian ideology that aims to control the religious, social and political life of mankind in all its aspects; the life of its followers without qualification; and the life of those who follow the so-called tolerated religions to a degree that prevents their activities from getting in the way of Islam in any way. And I mean Islam, I do not accept some spurious distinction between Islam and 'Islamic fundamentalism' or Islamic terrorism'.

The September 11, 2001 murderers acted canonically. They followed Sharia, a collection of theoretical laws and ideals "that apply in any ideal Muslim community." This body of regulations, based on divine authority, according to devout Muslims "must be accepted without criticism, without doubts and questions." It sacrifices the individual's desires and good to those of the community.

That apostasy is not today mentioned in the legal codes of most Islamic countries, Warraq notes, hardly implies freedom of religion for Muslims in those states; their penal codes are filled with Islamic laws. The myth of Islamic tolerance is defied by the massacre and extermination of the Zoroastrians in Iran; the million Armenians in Turkey; the Buddhists and Hindus in India; the more than six thousand Jews in Fez, Morocco, in 1033; hundreds of Jews killed in Cordoba between 1010 and 1013; the entire Jewish community of Granada in 1066; the Jews in Marrakesh in 1232; the Jews of Tetuan, Morocco in 1790; the Jews of Baghdad in 1828; and so on ad nauseum.

Ironically, despite Islam's immutability, the myth evolved through the Western propensity to criticize its civilization. In 98 CE, Roman historian Tacitus in Germania compared the noble simplicity of the Germans with the vices of contemporary Rome. Michele do Montaigne (1533-1592) in circa 1580 painted noble savages based on dubious secondhand information in order to condemn his own civilization.

Later writers substituted Islam for savages to condemn Christendom and materialism. In 1686-89, for example, Huguenot pastor Pierre Jurieu exclaimed that Christians had spilt more blood on St. Bartholemew's Day than had the Saracens in all their persecutions of Christians. Of course, Islam had claimed millions of lives-in 1399, Taimur killed 100,000 Hindus in a single day. But during the 17th century, and later the Enlightenment, writers perpetuated the "two ideal prototypes, the noble savage and the wise and urbane Oriental," substituting Turks for Muslims, and Islamic tolerance for Turkish tolerance.

Actually, 18th century Turkey was no interfaith utopia. In 1758, a British ambassador noted that Sultan Mustafa III had non-Muslim Christians and Jews executed for wearing banned clothing. In 1770, another ambassador reported that Greeks, Armenians and Jews seen outside their homes after dark were hanged. In 1785, a third noted that Muslim mobs had dismantled churches after Christians had secretly repaired them.

"The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam," Bernard Lewis wrote in 1968 in the Encyclopedia of Islam. "The myth was invented in 19th century Europe as a reproach to Christians-and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews...."

Until the late 19th century, Jews in North Africa, Yemen and other oriental Muslim lands, were obliged to live isolated, in special quarters, and "were constrained to wear distinctive clothing." They could not carry arms (including canes), and could not give sworn testimony in Muslim jurisdictions. Even in 1968, an Egyptian sheikh explained at Cairo's Islamic University of al-Azhar, "the Jews... are dhimmis, people of obligation, who have betrayed the covenant in conformity with which they have been accorded protection."

The International Institute of Islamic Thought was established in 1981 to Islamify Western history and thought. Western thinkers succumb to jihad and dhimmitude when we refuse to identify the Turkish perpetration of Armenian genocide, or (conversely) present Andalusia-complete with harems, eunuchs, and Christian slaves-"as a perfect model of multicultural societies for the West" to emulate in the 21st century.

Only testimony can counter the pathological trends. Thus, Walid Phares and Bat Ye'or tackle the forgotten tragedy of the Middle Eastern Christians-10 to 12 million Egyptian Copts; 1.5 Lebanese Maronites, Orthodox, Melkites and others; 7 million Anglican, Protestant and Catholic southern Sudanese Africans; 1 million Christian Syrians; 1 million Iraqi Assyrians, Nestorians, Chaldeans, and Jacobites; 500,000 Iranian Persian, Armenian and Assyrian Christians; and perhaps 100,000 Christian Arab Palestinians. Patrick Sookhdeo and Mark Durie cover the rise of anti-Christian persecutions in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan and Indonesia since Sept. 11, 2001.

Western failure to recognize this subservient condition, much less its historical or contemporary results, has put democratic civilization in danger. All this and much more in this book can help to turn the tide.

--Alyssa A. Lappen

5-0 out of 5 stars A hard-hitting, critical assessment of Islamic teachings
Original articles, primary source documents, and in-depth study contribute to The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims, a hard-hitting, critical assessment of Islamic teachings and practices regarding non-Muslim minorities, exploring a human rights issue which rarely receives in-depth press. The world's leading authorities on the issue of Islamic religion and social history appear under one cover, exposing he legal superstructure which has treated non-Muslims in Muslim societies as oppressed peoples, and showing how the effects of discriminatory attitudes continue to affect Muslim societies today. Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Robert Spencer, The Myth Of Islamic Tolerance is a powerful, hard-hitting probe.

5-0 out of 5 stars The mainstream media doesn't get it--- this book does
I'm an expatriate American.My wife and I live in a Muslim neighborhood in the southern part of Thailand. We ourselves have never experienced a scintilla of censure or even tension from our Muslim neighbors -- among whom we shop and with whom we interact every day, on the friendliest of terms.

But from our house we can hear the daily sermons broadcast fom the local mosque (in the Thai language --- very few Muslims speak the Arabic of the Q'uran) and what we hear is very disturbing.Local Muslims are told that all of Thailand (which is 75% Bhuddist) should become an Islamic state, and that loyalty to the King and/or Prime Minister is disloyaly to Allah.This does not happen every day --- but it happens too often to ignore.

After the tsunami we found that several Muslim groups had used the disaster to evict Bhuddist beach vendors, preventing them from rebuilding their businesses.The Muslims are organized around and encouraged by firebrands from the mosque --- the Bhuddists have no such support organization, so are easy prey.

I have read nearly all of Robert Spencer's books and articles.I have followed his detailed arguments online with Muslim scholars --- he is clear, reasoned, and precise. His books are more understated and balanced than his websites, which are ardent --- sometimes strident.Overall, his writings have encouraged me to do a little research of my own -- and I believe he knows what he is talking about.Read this book if you want to know what kind of future Islam has in mind for your children.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scarier than a Steven King novel
The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims is much scarier than a Steven King novel, because it is true.

I never expected any of this.I have believed too many of CNN and the liberal media's lies, no more.This book is required reading to understand the middle east conflict.
... Read more

9. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta : A Muslim Traveller of the 14th Century
by Ross E. Dunn
list price: $17.59
our price: $17.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520067436
Catlog: Book (1990-04-01)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 55226
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ross Dunn here recounts the great traveler's remarkable career, interpreting it within the cultural and social context of Islamic society and giving the reader both a biography of an extraordinary personality and a study of the hemispheric dimensions of human interchange in medieval times. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best travel account in history
This book is the travel accounts of Ibn Battuta a Moroccan traveler from 14th. century A.D. who traveled from Morocco to China bassing by North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Iran, Byzantine empire, South East Asia(During his travel he was appointed as a supreme judge in Delhy(India) and in Maldive islands(His journey lasted for more than 20 years). He also visited Spain, and West Africa. At the end he went back to Morocco and dictated his travel accounts to the script of the Sultan Anan al-Marini of Morocco.

5-0 out of 5 stars A 14th century traveller who saw more than even Marco Polo
In 1325 the young Morrocan Ibn Battuta left his home to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. On the way, he became enamoured with travel and travelled half the world, from North Africa to China, before returning to his home in 1349. His record of his journeys, the Rihla, is difficult to read and chaotically organised, leading historian Ross E. Dunn to present Ibn Battuta's story in a more accessible format. THE ADVENTURES OF IBN BATTUTA is an extremely interesting book, and I recommend it highly to anyone interested in world history.

Battuta's memoirs often lack detail, so Dunn has put his travels in context by bringing in outside information. Thus, before covering Battuta's travels over the steppe of Northern Asia, he explains how the Mongols came to acquire so much territory and then convert to Islam.

Another interesting part of Battuta's story is how Europeans and inhabitants of the Middle East interacted in the 14th century. Battuta gives an anecdote about a stay in a Muslim town in the Crimean where Italian traders had an outpost. Hearing the Italian's churchbells, which sounded to him like a diabolic cacophony, he and his friends immediately ran to the roof and began to make the muezzin call to prayer. Luckily, there was no violent conflict from this culture class. Dunn's background information also gives interesting details of European activity in Asia during the late Middle Ages. I didn't know that Venetian and Genoese merchants travelled and resided as far east as Tabriz (in modern-day Iran) until I read THE ADVENTURES OF IBN BATTUTA.

5-0 out of 5 stars A traveler with a charmed life
So, what should we know about the Marco Polo of Tangier? The first thing is that the Marco Polo comparison, while of obvious utility, is really not a good one. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta is about Ibn Battuta and his world, and I think the story stands better on its own. Ross Dunn, the author, apparently thinks the same way, since the comparison is mentioned at the very beginning, but seldom after that. Battuta's travels through the world were done in a way only someone of his background could do them.

So what did he do? Ibn Battuta was a twenty one year old scholar of probably modest talent who set out to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and managed to not return home for twenty-four years. He apparently liked to travel, and took quite a few detours whenever he wanted to see something, usually a noted Muslim city or holy site. He did stay in India for quite a long time, working as a qadi, an Islamic judge, at a time when foreigners were welcomed for just that sort of thing. Eventually he made it as far east as China (maybe), as far south as modern day Tanzania, and in a later voyage in his life, down to Mali.

Structurally, the text works well. In each section Dunn provides a background on the region before we learn of how Battuta spent his time there. It helps to know that such and such an emperor had been around for so many years, and was having the following problems. This is not just for our curiosity. Since Battuta, particularly in later years, involved himself often in government affairs, it becomes essential for the reader to know something about what was going on. Though Battuta wrote (or provided information for another author to write) a travel diary after his return, that is not what we see here. Dunn only references Battuta's Rihla occasionally. More often he explains some historiography of the work, pointing out that the text is unclear, missing portions, confusing, or just plain impossible, such as Battuta's claim to have visited Peking, though he would almost have to travel faster than a human could in those days to have done so in the time available.

Of course what makes the text really work is the story. Battuta is an interesting character. He was half rogue and half self-important egotist. It is an essential feature of his travels that he was an educated Muslim traveling in Muslim lands. So everywhere he went, he could present himself to local leaders as a wandering Muslim from far away, and get himself treated to meals, lodging, and gifts. And when I say everywhere, it really was just about everywhere. This is one of the reasons the Marco Polo comparison doesn't work well. In many places he could find Arabic speakers, if not as native speakers, then at least as a second language. Between Islamic custom for charity towards travelers and Battuta's apparently charming personality, he traveled quite far in some comfort and without excessive culture shock.

There is a darker side to Battuta's personality that come out in many places. He was, to put it mildly, a religious bigot. He was condescending towards Shiites. The first time he heard Christian church bells in a mixed region of Muslims and Christians, he and a fellow traveler ran up to the top of the local minaret and began shouting the call to Prayer to try to drown out the sounds. When faced with local behavior in distant lands that he thought non-Islamic, he typically behaved rudely - he wouldn't even enter the house of someone if he thought he would see the wife speaking to other men. As a judge, he imposed full Islamic justice (for wine drinking for example, eighty lashes) on unsuspected locals. In China he was infuriated that the locals didn't want to discuss Islam with him at all. When his career in the Maldives (off south west India) came to a halt, he sailed to a neighboring kingdom on the coast and offered to lead a military expedition to invade them; it didn't happen. So although Battuta could be charming and pleasant, he reserved that honor for proper Muslims, and if he had something to gain from them, all the better. The closest modern day analogy I can think of to describe him would be an arrogant nineteenth Century English nobleman touring the British Empire and ignoring or belittling the natives. The passage of time and remoteness of Battuta to our own life makes the story fun and fascinating, however much of a bore and a rogue he may have been in his own life. So I would give high marks to this story of the Ibn Battuta of the Islamic world.

5-0 out of 5 stars great snap shot of the muslim world in the 14th century
This book is a good snap shot of how the muslim world was in the 14th century. Ibn Battuta also represents the intellectual thought and how traditional islamic knowledge was taught back then. and excellent book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Gets Better As It Goes On
I suspect that the highly negative reviews of this book were written by readers who read the first 100 pages, found them tedious, and stopped. They should have stayed the course, for the narrative improves as Ibn Battuta makes his way eastward to India and the Far East.

The reason it gets better is that Professor Dunn knows a great deal about that part of the world, and presents a fascinating discussion of its history and economics. While Europe was suffering through the Middle Ages, the Middle and Far East were the centers of civilization.

The interesting question is "What went wrong?" Why did these same countries freeze, while Europe entered the Renaissance? But that's the topic of other books. ... Read more

10. Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah (The Ceri Series in Comparative Politics and International Studies)
by Olivier Roy
list price: $29.50
our price: $29.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231134983
Catlog: Book (2004-10-30)
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Sales Rank: 33868
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11. Islam and Terrorism: What the Quran Really Teaches About Christianity, Violence and the Goals of the Islamic Jihad
by Mark A. Gabriel, Mark A. Gabriel
list price: $13.99
our price: $10.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0884198847
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Charisma House
Average Customer Review: 3.44 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Why The West Is A Target For Terrorism & Hatred.
Presented by a Professor of Islamic History at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, this book provides the reader with an extremely valuable insight into what the Islamic holy book, the Quran, teaches about Christianity, violence & the goals of the Islamic jihad. We are also imparted with an in depth analysis into the Islamic faith, beliefs and traditions through a book which documents the identification between modern terrorism and Islamic theology.

Written in the wake of the September 11th attacks, the book outlines how as a "Christian" society, we in the West have an extremely limited comprehension of what Muslims actually believe and what, if any, agenda the religion of Islam has.

At the outset, the contents of the book go to great lengths to point out that "Islam is behind terrorism" and not "Muslims". Readers being encouraged to love individual Muslims but to be aware of what Islam teaches, pointing out that many Muslims themselves are not aware of all that the Islamic faith includes.

Muslims being described here as falling into any one of three groups; secular, traditional and fundamental Muslims. Secular Muslims only believing in what they term the "nice" parts of Islam and who reject jihad. Traditional Muslims who have a stumbling block with the concept of Jihad and the latter group of fundamentalists who actually perpetrate the terrorism. More detail of this is included as the book progresses.

The book begins with an autobiography detailing the writer's experience and knowledge of Islam and how he came to question his Islamic faith. This is followed by an account of his expulsion from University, his arrest and detention by the Egyptian secret police and his treatment/interrogation. The story extends to his conversion to Christianity and the main body of the book which deals with Islam and associated terrorism.

The fundamentals of the Islamic faith are examined initially, with a description of Islam as being a "religion based on work" with "entrance to paradise" having to be earned. Muslims being described as having no "assurance of salvation". The only way of guaranteeing "entrance to paradise" being to die in jihad. What the book describes as the "perfect motive for suicide bombers". Something which is describing as encouraging Muslims to even leave their own nations to fight jihad in other countries.

This study illustrates that the focus of jihad is to "overcome" people who do not accept Islam (page 33). A quotation from Surah 4;89 of the Noble Quran stating, "Those who reject Islam must be killed. If they turn back, take them and kill them wherever you find them".

Many, many other quotations are taken from the Islamic holy books to substantiate this issue. Many readers may be disturbed by what they read. Indeed, the book proceeds to describe (with suitable references) that the ultimate goal of Islam is to establish Islamic authority over the entire World. The book also revealing what it describes as historical facts about the Islamic prophet Muhammad, his teachings and practices, that few Westerners have ever encountered.

The book declares that Islam has been veiled in a vast sea of misinformation since September 11th , with many political and media elements falsely presenting Islam as a "religion of peace". Muslim spokespersons publicly proclaiming such an image are described as distorting the truth to make it palatable to Western ears and also with a view to attracting possible converts. Many Islamic leaders being cited here as each doing their part for jihad by deceiving the Western populace through the media, achieving the desired effect upon public opinion.

We are also presented with Muhammad's own example of jihad and how others were encouraged to follow him. The ultimate goal of Islam is also examined. Mawlana Abul Ala Mawdudi, the founder of Pakistan's fundamentalist Islamic movement is quoted as saying that Islam is not like the other religions in the World and Muslim nations not like other nations, because Muslim nations have a command from Allah to "rule the entire World and to be over every nation in the World". (Page 81).

The book takes the reader on what it describes as a guided tour through 1,200 years of Islamic history where examples are illustrated that "justify" the killing of even women and children. The evolution of Islamic terrorism is also studied and how it has been brought to the West. The book describing how Islamic terrorism is no longer so intent upon targeting diplomatic figures or individuals, as random attacks upon the general public are more effective, as they terrorize the majority and spread fear in a larger way. Terrorism shown to have become a method of "political debate & dialogue". The depth of the Islamic hatred of Israel, the US, the West, Christianity and Judaism all being mentioned.

The contents of this work also show that Muslims believe that "war means deception" and that lying is justified and indeed an important element of war in Islam. How this crucially affects countries dealing with Islamic nations in relation to so called "peace agreements" is also studied. The book describes how difficult it is for the Western public to accept and understand such a mind-set.

I would respectfully recommend another book by Mark Gabriel entitled "Islam and the Jews; The Unfinished Battle". Thank you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quran: It's Cleansing Sword for Pagans
The author of ISLAM AND TERRORISM cites specific Surahs(verses) in the Quran to show how Islam really doesn't "tolerate" Jews and Christians ("People of the Book/Bible") and pagans/infidels (non-monotheists). The Quran's Surah 9:5 is pretty clear: "Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them...."
The author explains "Naskh": why contradictions appear to exist in the Quran. Some verses tell Muslims to respect Jews and Christians (but only if they pay a tax), while others urge a Jihad against them. What this author reveals is that Muhammad received different revelations from Allah at different times as to how the Jews and Christians were to be treated.
The later revelations against non-Muslims reverse the earlier toleration commandments.
This is the only book that I have found that extensively cites passages from the Quran to reveal how Usama/Osama bin Ladin's gang justify their killings of non-Muslims, including innocent women and children.
The author notes that the Quran is not written in a straight timeline. Its chapters are not written in chronological order, but the largest chapters are followed by ever-smaller chapters. One needs to obtain another booklet to learn how scholars believe which chapter actually was revealed before the others. This is necessary in trying to understand Allah's "last" views as revealed to Muhammad. They changed; hence, one needs to know when each chapter was written in order to understand the which were the correct "last" or "most up to date" dictims from Allah: does he tolerate Jews or not? Allah must not, as Muhammad ordered the killing of so many Jews, and ordered Jews and Christians out of Arabia. (This explains why there are no Christian churches or Jewish synagogues in Saudi Arabia. As a U.S. solider in Saudi Arabia during Gulf War I to liberate Muslim-Kuwait, we were told not to wear Christian crosses on the outside of our uniforms. Also, when you check into a Saudi hotel, the registration card asks you your religion -- but the kind proprietor told me I really didn't have to note it.)
Too bad the critics of this book don't explain what specific falsehoods they find in it. I looked up all of the citations in THE NOBLE QURAN (published by the government of Saudi Arabia) and found them to be accurate.
A fine campanion book from this author is: ISLAM AND THE JEWS - THE UNFINISHED BATTLE.

5-0 out of 5 stars For those with eyes that see
This is an excellent book to better understand the source of the obvious; People dancing in joy over the death of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims by Muslims, daily explosions of people exploding themselves to kill what seems to be innocent people, the oppressive lives of Muslim women, kidnapping unarmed contractors and chopping their heads off, vast numbers of people in Afganistan with missing limbs, the starving and slavery of non-Muslim Sudanese by Muslims, the daily reports of killings by Muslims in Sudan, the Philipines, Malaysia, Iraq, Russia, Pakistan, Thialand, Israel, and on and on. The reason people buy and like this book is because it explains what anyone with eyes can see. It fits with what we see and hear - it rings true to those with eyes and ears. Those who argue against it with "scholorship" or "bigotry", etc. ring hollow to those who are daily shocked by the things Muslims are doing and no longer believe that Muslim means peace.

1-0 out of 5 stars The reviews I'm reading here are not the reviews...
You know what folks...
I'm reading the reviews about this book and I have to state that most of them are just a useless and senseless trash. These are not reviews. These are only unbalanced thoughts and opinions of people who hate Islam and seek every argument they may use against it. They say that fundamentalists are true Muslims and the others are just Westernized Muslims. But every stick has two endings and it sounds so stupidly like would the saying that: the fundamentalist Christians are the true Christians and the others are just watered-down followers of Jusus' religion. I am writing it because, truly, I cannot stand people who are seeking some arguments against others without any, even basic, knowledge of the topic. There are many religons in this world. Most of people, and especially fundamentalists, do not follow the religious regulations. They follow some kind of spiritual pathology. In fact, there is no evil religion, but there are evil people. That's the point of the question. If everybody was the follower of their religion then all those priests, rabbis and imams would have been completely unnecessary. But look, they have hands full of job... God allows so many religions to co-exist in our reality because, in fact, it is the specific kind of tolerance test for us. And, unfortunately, many of us do not pass it... God bless, whatever name you call Him...

5-0 out of 5 stars A true point of view
This book was written by a former Muslim professor of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt who taught Islamic history. This guy knows what he's talking about. Sure, there are other interpretations of Islam, but his is the only one that makes sense of why the Quran first says to love your non-Muslim brothers and then later says to convert the infidel (non-Muslims) or kill them. It also shows you just how insignificant woman are in the Islam religion. Lastly, it goes through Islamic history and the rise of terrorism and how it all connects to the Quran.

This is not a book of bigotry. This man sincerely wants to help Muslims find the right path, and not go on killing people. He believes the only way this will happen is if they turn away from Islam and convert to Christianity, because Christianity is a faith based on grace, hope and love. It's the complete opposite mindset of what Islam is. I agree.

If one does not find that Mr. Gabriel wants to help them become different and pure people by the end of this book, and stop terrorism, then the reader is the only one deceiving himself/herself. He's a kind and loving Christian man. It's just that he's telling it how it is with Islam, and some people aren't going to like it.

I recommend this book if all you've ever known about Islam is the Westernized point of view. This guy was a real Muslim, and an expert on the religion at that. He lived where Islam thrives and experienced it all first hand. So this book is worth the read. ... Read more

12. Islam for Dummies
by MalcolmClark
list price: $21.99
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764555030
Catlog: Book (2003-04-28)
Publisher: For Dummies
Sales Rank: 22355
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Many non-Muslims have no idea that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews, and that Islam preaches compassion, charity, humility, and the brotherhood of man. And the similarities don’t end there. According to Islamic teaching, Muhammad founded Islam in 610 CE after the angel Gabriel appeared to him at Mecca and told him that God had entered him among the ranks of such great biblical prophets as Abraham, Moses, and Christ.

Whether you live or work alongside Muslims and want to relate to them better, or you simply want to gain a better understanding of the world’s second largest religion, Islam For Dummies can help you make sense of this religion and its appeal.  From the Qur’an to Ramadan, this friendly guide introduces you to the origins, practices and beliefs of Islam, including:

  • Muhammad, the man and the legend
  • The Five Pillars of Wisdom
  • The Five Essentials beliefs of Islam
  • The different branches of Islam and Islamic sects
  • The Qur’an and Islamic law
  • Islam throughout history and its impact around the world

Professor Malcolm Clark explores the roots of Islam, how it has developed over the centuries, and it’s long and complex relationship with Christianity. He helps puts Islam in perspective as a major cultural and geopolitical force. And he provided helpful insights into, among other things:

  • Muhammad, the Qur’an and the ethical teachings of Islam
  • Muslim worship, customs, and rituals surrounding birth, marriage, and death
  • Shi’ites, Sunnis, Sufis, Druze, and other important Muslim groups
  • Islam in relation to Judaism and Christianity

In these troubled times, it is important that we try to understand the belief systems of others, for through understanding comes peace. Islam For Dummies helps you build bridges of understanding between you and your neighbors in the global village. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Islam for all: Human Rights Perspective
Prof. Warren Malcolm Clark did an excent job in explaining many fundamental doctrines, ideas, and rituals of Islam. Recently I have authored a book entitled HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD and quite aware of how difficult is it to keep a balance in writing such a book. I have to say that Prof. Clark has created a unique approach to Islamic issues. He tried to avoid typical Western attitude toward Islam and Muslims. And he was quite successful in that. I am looking forward to meet him in person to congratulate him for his remarkable academic and popular contribution in an area of such a great importance. ... Read more

13. Onward Muslim Soldiers
by Robert Spencer
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
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Asin: 0895261006
Catlog: Book (2003-09-03)
Publisher: Regnery Publishing
Sales Rank: 21983
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this book the author uncovers the cause of global violence that the established media would rather you ignore. He reveals why the threat of violent jihad is growing daily, despite our recent victory in Iraq. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Militant Islam Exposed
In this book Robert Spencer argues that violence and terrorism are not necessarily out of place for a Muslim. The Koran, Islamic law (Sharia), the example of Muhammad and Islamic history all provide support for these sorts of activities. With a wealth of documentation, the author shows that the concept of jihad (holy war) and dhimmitude (the subjugation of non-Muslim minorities), continues to strongly influence many Muslims today.

Consider the doctrine of jihad. Just what does it mean and involve? Because there is no ultimate central authority in Islam, argues Spencer, disagreement exists as to interpreting the Koran, the weight of tradition (Hadith), and the example of Muhammad. But the Koran (Sura 9:29), Islamic history and jurisprudence all hold that there are three choices for the non-Muslim in a Muslim land: conversion to Islam, dhimmitude, or death. "The goal of jihad is thus the incorporation of non-Muslims into Muslim society, either by conversion or submission."

Koranic injunctions to fight are numerous, as they are in the various collections of Hadith. And Muhammad himself set the example of violent conquest. The idea of complete submission to Islam, even to the point of death, argues Spencer, "remains a vital part of Islamic theology". Thus jihad is very much concerned with the concept of holy war, and even terrorism.

Hand in hand with jihad is the notion of dhimmitude. Non-Muslims in Muslim countries are considered dhimmis, or protected peoples. Such protection however often results in second-class citizenship (and worse) for the minority groups. Various social, political and religious restrictions, along with the mandatory payment of a poll-tax (jizya) effectively spells the gradual liquidation of the minority groups.

Apologists for Islam often claim that these practices may have been true in the past, but are no longer so prevalent. But Spencer amply documents how both jihad and dhimmitude are alive and well in most Muslim nations today.

September 11 was, to a great degree, a logical outcome of the concept of jihad. Some however argue that as the ultimate suicide bombing, Sept. 11 cannot be reconciled with Islam, since suicide is sinful in Islam. But many Muslims defend suicide bombing, arguing that it is not really suicide but martyrdom for Allah, something much praised in the Koran. They insist that the bombers simply use their bodies to kill others, not themselves. And those who are killed while fighting for Allah are promised a one-way ticket to Paradise. Interestingly, in Islam, no other action guarantees one's eternal destiny in Paradise.

A good part of this book documents how radical Islam is at war against not only the West, but moderate Muslims as well. He offers detailed, referenced accounts of how militant Muslims are at work in the West, and how many Western sympathisers have been duped by their words of peace and tolerance. Yes, the Koran does speak of these ideas, but it also contains many verses devoted to violent intolerance.

He documents how Western leftists have been silent on Muslim atrocities, presumably because only America is capable of evil. He details how leftist apologists for radical Islam in the West have distorted the evidence and closed their ears to the facts of history. This attempt to blame America first and justify Muslim jihad are having serious repercussions in the West, says Spencer.

And the truth is, he argues, for the radical Muslim, Islam is at war with the world, and until all the earth is brought under Dar al-Islam (the house, or rule, of Islam), terror, fighting and suicide bombings will continue. That is why the West needs to be ever vigilant, and needs to continue to encourage moderate Islam to gets its own house in order, and disassociate itself entirely from the extremist elements.

While we must do all we can to encourage Muslim moderation, we dare not ignore Muslim extremism. This books helps us to do both, and deserves a wide reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars How Jihad Threatens America and the West
Thank G-d Spencer avoided Middle East Studies Departments. Spencer whose degree is in Religious Studies approaches the problem of Islam from a religious angle, and tries to examine the theology of jihad on the Muslims' own terms. His book is blessedly free of academese and it is not only well-written but a well-organized look at how jihad threatens the West. (Contrary to what reviewer Seth Franzman thinks, Nigeria is neither part of America nor the West).
Daniel Pipes who is a professor of Mid East Studies (but a good guy nonetheless) writes on the book's cover, "To understand the ideological sources of the terrorist enemy, read Robert Spencer's succinct, knowledgeable, and important book, Onward Muslim Soldiers. His systematic survey of such vital topics as radical Islam's aspirations, its unlikely alliance with the far left, and the need to encourage a moderate Islamic alternative are all valuable. But Spencer's signal contribution is his focus on the 'global threat to the West' that so many Western analysts and policymakers persistently refuse to see: jihad, or sacred war for Islam. There is no more important topic for citizens to comprehend."
Anyone who reads both Daniel Pipes and Robert Spencer will understand both the politics (Pipes) and the theology (Spencer) of the jihad terrorists who threaten us all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful book
I can't overemphasize how important this book it.

Most people in the USA are so pro-Palestinian that they are oblivious to the dangers of Islam.

What they don't realize, is that after they are done with Israel, the militant Muslims will come after the infidels of the USA.

The biggest secret is that Islam hates the USA.

Read this book and see why.

4-0 out of 5 stars Onward worried readers, finding out the truth
Please look at the person to your left. Now look at the person to your right. And finally, please look in a mirror. All three of you have only three choices. You may convert to Islam, right now please. You may agree to live under the rule of Muslims, with proper infidel penalties. Or you can be killed. Conversion, dhimmitude, or death. Under Islamic Sharia law, the law of the Koran and the Hadiths, those are the only three choices allowed. You may not opt out. This is the central topic of Onward Muslim Soldiers, Robert Spencer's latest study of Islamic history and belief. The topic is jihad.

Spencer's latest work is strong, albeit imperfect in many ways. This is a focused book on jihad, an often-misunderstood word, sometimes deliberately so. It goes to the central question of how well the Islamic world gets along with its neighbors. The verdict of history is grim. Jihad is, whatever else the apologists might say, generally accepted as a struggle against other human beings. There is a concept of greater (or higher) jihad and lesser jihad, with lesser being the warfare and greater being the internal personal struggle. Lately the greater jihad has been stressed by apologists trying to fend off suspicion and anger towards Islam from the West. But historically, it is the lesser jihad that is usually referred to in Muslim writings. Jihad refers to battle against unbelievers, a struggle by Dar al-Islam against Dar-ul-Harb (house of Islam, house of war). Under proper, Koranic theology, these two terms neatly partition the entire world. Westerners did not invent these terms, we learned them. Spencer goes into considerable detail over how, when, and why Muslims have interpreted these ideas over the centuries. The results are not universally bad. There are many Muslims throughout history and today who do not consider it their duty to wage war against unbelievers. But if you'd like to read many accounts of when they have, pick up Onward Muslim Soldiers.

This leads me into some of the problems. Like Spencer's earlier Islam Unveiled, Onward Muslim Soldiers is highly anecdotal, even more so than the earlier work. Particularly in part one we get almost a listing of specific incidents in history (contemporary and older), speeches, and writings covering acts of unneighborliness. But the connecting narrative I found to be weak. It comes off sounding like Spencer is too eager to tell as many horror stories as possible in limited space. However many stories one collects, we're talking about a fourteen hundred year history of now close to one billion believers. A list of events is not sufficient to establish the thesis. Not that I dispute Spencer's main point, far from it. But as a book, this one suffers from a lack (although not total absence) of connecting material. It jumps too fast through topics, and this is really a startling problem considering how narrow the focus of the book is. There's really no new insight to be gained here, only new evidence. As an aside, I'll point out that Spencer includes the seemingly obligatory chapter ranting about Liberalism. Personally I think Liberalism is the natural enemy of Islam, but I'm getting tired of writing about this in every book review on Islam. Suffice to say, Spencer doesn't fail to go off on this subject towards the end.

So while I doubt Spencer will change minds here, he can no doubt reinforce the convictions of people who have bothered to notice the problem. Spencer does point out that if we would just listen to what a great many Muslims, particular religious leaders, are saying then we might realize that there is some pretty serious animosity towards the West emanating from that part of the world. And it is based on religious conviction. I repeat, religious conviction. Islam, with its fundamental and built in concept of jihad, makes it at best very easy and at worst mandatory for Muslims to hate our civilization for being non-Islamic. The root problem is not poverty - if it was then we would expect some more global non-Islamic terrorism. It is not that Islam has been hijacked by frauds. Lacking any central authority, it is true that multiple interpretations of Islam are possible. But, as Spencer has pointed out, the writings and speeches of countless Islamists (a term Spencer avoids, but I'll use it here) over many decades of the Twentieth Century (and earlier ones too) show a consistent use of Islamic religious motivations for jihad (again, meaning warfare) against the West. Spencer's best line: "Khomeini, al-Banna, Qutb, Maududi, Azzam, and other Islamic leaders call on Muslims to subdue all people, by violence if necessary, to obey Allah; and they couch this call in terms that are entirely religious. It is condescending, ethnocentric, and ultimately baseless to insist that this religious motivation is really a cover for something else." (p. 262)

Although, as I've pointed out, Spencer's lack of cohesion make it impossible to say in this book that this interpretation of jihad is universal, or even predominant, the problem clearly does exist in a sizeable portion of the world's Islamic community. And history has shown that Muslims have a hard time getting along with neighboring non-Islamic lands. It again boils down to the three choices. Conversion, submission, or death. Bury your head in the sand about this if you must, but don't expect everyone else to do the same. Jihad is real, and it's a genuine problem. And if you think it's not, I dare you to read even a few chapters here. You might learn something very important about our world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful and honest
Most American's think that Muslim's hate America due to its support of Israel. That could not be farther from the truth. Even if America were not pro-Israel, they still would have the USA.

American's are non-believers and for that, they are infidels. Being an infidel is one of the worst things in Islam.

This is a horrifying book since it is so close to home.
The facts are real.
The Arabs don't deny it.
15 of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, and they don't even apologize.

Every American should read this book, and then write their congressman to take action against the dangers of Islam. ... Read more

14. Islam: A Concise Introduction
by Huston Smith
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060095571
Catlog: Book (2001-12)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 131694
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Drawn from his masterful presentation of Islam in the bestselling book The World's Religions (over two million copies sold), Huston Smith offers a revealing look into the heart of a tradition with more than one billion adherents worldwide. Dispelling narrow and distorted notions about the nature of Islam and featuring a new introduction by the author, this book compellingly conveys the profound appeal of Islam, while addressing such timely issues as the true meaning of jihad, the role of women in Islamic societies, and the remarkable growth of Islam in America.

... Read more

Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Fiction
1- The assertion that the apparent incoherence of the Koran is due to the assumption that the pouring of the heavenly Koran (The uncreated Koran) into the earthly Koran represented by the Arabic language was like pushing a thousand Truths into dozens of alphabets and had to result in such incoherence and anachronism, is not only laughable to the secular mind but also offensive to the orthodox scholar Muslims. Hey perhaps the immense Energy-Momentum Tensor associated with the huge satellite transmition resulted in Riemann-Christoffle tensor that caused such space time warp
2-The saying that Islam resulted in science movement is rather a historical mistake. At the time of Caliph Ummar when Egypt was conquered, he ordered his appointed governor to burn the Library of Alexandria on the ground that it was either contradicting the book of Allah { Koran ) or superflous to it. And As the historian Well noted (in his book short history of the world), it was only until the notion of the self-sufficiency in the Koran was set aside that Science started to flourish in the Arab empire. Indeed it was the caliph Maamoon who adopte the view that the Koran is just words any Arab can write the like thereof. Maamoon put obnoxious fundamenal shieks - insisting that Koran un created - in jails. Mammon enocurage Sience gave the jewish translators gold in weigh of what they translated from Greek to Arabic. Al-Khwarizmi,who gave Algebra its name, was a close friend to Maamon.
3- About the right of Women in Islam, that is also another misleading in the book. Of all the enemy and critic of Islam write, there is an incident no one - up to my kwoledge - has yet written about. Here is it: If man accuse another man or a woman of adultery and cannot bring another three acceptable 3 men witnesses , he must be lashed 80 times. However a husband can accuse his wife of adultery even if he cannot produce another three acceptable men witnesses. He just has to swear five times that she commited the act. Now she either addmit and face punishments or deny and swear five times that she didn't and he is lying :
"And for those who launch a charge against their wives, and have (in support) no evidence but their own,- let one of them testify four times by Allah that he is of those who speak the truth; "And the fifth (oath) (should be) that he solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on himself if he tell a lie. But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) By Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie. And the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the truth." 24:6-9 Koran Yousef Ali translation. The drama does not end here. after the divorce the man can go and get marriage. The woman NOT. According to the Islamic legislation, she must wait until Alah shows a sigen that her huband was lying. The sigen could be as a disease that hits him...etc. Of course that doesn't happen in islamic society today.
4- The author also try to accomodate that the Koran and the Bible are both right. If two things are contradicting, only two conclusion are possible: 1-) One is false 2-) Both are false. An Arab poet, Al-Maary, who was 300 years after Muhammad, once said:
Corruption is people's first nature
And in hallucination all religions are equal

5-0 out of 5 stars Islam 101: A course in Islamic Studies.
This book, although short in terms of number of pages, is nevertheless extremely rich and amazingly eloquent in its presentation and explanations of Islam, from the life of Muhammad, to the Quran, to Islamic teachings and philosophy, and ending with a brief introduction to Sufism (Mysticism).

This book highly builds on the chapter that was dedicated to Islam in Huston Smith's The World's Religions. But Mr. Smith, after extracting that chapter and making a separate book out of it, adds to its contents discussions that relate to current world events such as the New York and Washington events in September 2001. He also adds many useful discussions regarding misconceptions about Islamic teachings like the issue of Women, Jihad, Polygamy, and many other issues that should highly interest any reader who seeks basic - but strong - foundations in Islamic Theology and Philosophy.

The bibliography and the "suggestions for further reading" part at the end of book is extremely helpful for anyone who persues an academic background in Islamic Studies.

This book will no doubt start to appear in college courses that cover the issue of Islam as a required reading assignment.

All in all, an excellent and a highly recommended book that is considered a masterpiece in the field of Comparative Religion Scholarship.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Muslim perspective ... Thank you Huston
As an American Christian who diligently studied Islam, lived with Muslims abroad, and then became Muslim himself, I found this book a positive introduction to Islam for the modern, Western mind.

Huston Smith has described Islam in a respectful and fair manner in a way that is difficult to find among nonMuslim authors. In my study of Islam I found that even many life long Muslim writers from outside the Western cultures are not able to describe Islam with such effectiveness.

Islam is often viewed only in negative ways, or in detail of its physical forms alone. Huston Smith is able to see beyond the ignorant sterotypes and begin to express the emotional depth and value of Islam's spiritual wisdom.

The book is intended as an introduction, and is exactly that. It only takes about ninety minutes to read, but sheds much light on a complex subject. Hopefully it is enough to inspire readers to learn more about Islam through even more effective and thorough channels, such as speaking with Muslims at a local mosque. The best source is always the direct source.

So I thank Huston Smith, and recommend this book to all those interested in beginning to understand the true nature of Islam.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reminds Me of Something Spinal Tap Once Said...
"...There's such a fine line between stupid and clever."

This book is a maddeningly inconsistent little work that still manages to deliver on the promise of its subtitle: "A Consise Introduction". As such, it is best read and then forgotten.

Throughout the text, Smith delivers splendid insights, written in a beautiful prose, but every once in a while he topples over into sheer stupidity. Sometimes he does both on the same page. Let's turn to pages 38-39 for an example where Smith explicates the Koranic concepts of Creation and Gratitude:

"It [the cosmos] was created by a deliberate act of Allah's will: 'He has created the heavens and the earth' (16:3). This fact carries two important consequences. First, the world of matter is both real and important. Herein lies one of the sources of Islamic science, which during Europe's Dark Ages flourished as nowhere else on earth."

As a matter of fact, this account explains nothing, because Christianity teaches precisely the same thing concerning creation. Therefore, Islamic science must have flourished during the Dark Ages for reasons other than Koranic doctrine. Furthermore, Islamic contributions to science have been lacking over the past several centuries--does this then mean that the Koran's message has somehow been corrupted or that Muslims are now less devout than during the Dark Ages? Clearly, the implication is absurd. Whatever success "Islamic science" has achieved is not due solely to the Koran.

Smith immediately follows this howler with a finely-wrought interpretation of the term "infidel" (page 39):

"With life acknowledged as a gift from its Creator, we can turn to its obligations, which are two. The first of these is gratitude for the life that has been received. The Arabic word 'infidel' is actually shaded more toward 'one who lacks thankfulness' than one who disbelieves. The more gratitude that one feels, the more natural it feels to let the bounty that has entered flow through one's life and on to others, for to hoard it would be as unnatural as trying to dam a waterfall. The ingrate, the Koran tells us, 'covers' or 'hides' God's blessings and thereby fails to enjoy the link with the Creator that every moment provides."

Noble and poetic words, beautifully put. I hope that is indeed what the Koran teaches.

Back to the other side of the fine line. In discussing the status of women within Islam, Smith states:

"To the adherents of a religion in which the punishment for adultery is death by stoning and social dancing is proscribed, Western indictments of Islam as a lascivious religion sound ill-directed." (page 63)

I see: Islam can't be lascivious because it's barbaric. Probably not the best defense, counsel.

My overall problem with this book is that Smith confuses an empathetic understanding of Islam with cultural pandering. He tries too hard to make Islam safe for his intended audience, to explain away teachings that might seem unpalatable to a liberal western reader. This sort of lazy, implicit condescension does no favor to the truth or to its seekers. As a result, there is an almost complete absence of critical analysis in this book.

And yet, his powers of description (not analysis) do enable him to convey something valuable in a short amount of time and space. Hence a three star rating. ... Read more

15. Western Muslims and the Future of Islam
by Tariq Ramadan
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 019517111X
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 98427
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In a Western world suddenly acutely interested in Islam, one question has been repeatedly heard above the din: where are the Muslim reformers?With this ambitious volume, Tariq Ramadan firmly establishes himself as one of Europe's leading thinkers and one of Islam's most innovative and important voices. As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslim becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context. French, English, German, and American Muslims--women as well as men--are reshaping their religion into one that is faithful to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American cultures, and definitively rooted in Western societies. Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western societies. He then shows how these principles can be put to practical use. Ramadan contends that Muslims can-indeed must-be faithful to their principles while participating fully in the civic life of Western secular societies. Grounded in scholarship and bold in its aims, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam offers a striking vision of a new Muslim identity, one which rejects once and for all the idea that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I believe this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It was the first time a scholar elaborates on what it really means to be both Western and Muslim. He tackles just about every issue facing Muslims in the West - and while obvously not everyone will agree with him - he is the first one to really discuss these issues as far as I know.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Advice From a Western Muslim Scholar
Tariq Ramadan offers some practical advice for Muslims living in the West. He begins his discussion by explaining Islamic principles, shariah, and the desire for social justice and the common good. He explains how the old paradigms such as Darul-Islam (the abode of Islam) are no longer workable and states the need for contemporary Muslims to return to the authentic sources (the Qur'an and Hadeeth) in order to build practical models to meet today's environment, rather than to try to patch old, broken models developed by medieval scholars. He addresses many facets of daily life such as education, politics, and economics.

Ramadan's presentation offers Muslims some useful tools in order to begin this effort, but ultimately leaves concrete solutions for individuals and community leaders, leaving the door open to take into account the circumstances unique to each situation.

This is a worth-while read for the contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim alike. ... Read more

16. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
by Ahmed Rashid
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0300089023
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: Yale Nota Bene
Sales Rank: 54563
Average Customer Review: 4.59 out of 5 stars
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This is the single best book available on the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Afghanistan responsible for harboring the terrorist Osama bin Laden. Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist who has spent most of his career reporting on the region--he has personally met and interviewed many of the Taliban's shadowy leaders. Taliban was written and published before the massacres of September 11, 2001, yet it is essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand the aftermath of that black day. It includes details on how and why the Taliban came to power, the government's oppression of ordinary citizens (especially women), the heroin trade, oil intrigue, and--in a vitally relevant chapter--bin Laden's sinister rise to power. These pages contain stories of mass slaughter, beheadings, and the Taliban's crushing war against freedom: under Mullah Omar, it has banned everything from kite flying to singing and dancing at weddings. Rashid is for the most part an objective reporter, though his rage sometimes (and understandably) comes to the surface: "The Taliban were right, their interpretation of Islam was right, and everything else was wrong and an expression of human weakness and a lack of piety," he notes with sarcasm. He has produced a compelling portrait of modern evil. --John Miller ... Read more

Reviews (120)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read For Understanding The 911 Devastation
Ahmed Rashid spent over 20 years as a reporter in Pakistan/Afghanistan. He has written a 216 page book filled with facts concerning the history, politics and culture of the Taliban, Terroism and American Oil Companies. Mr Rashid reports in a clear and organized style about events between 1978-1999 in this part of the world in the context of the history of the Middle East. His insights and reporting are both surprising and informative. He covers religious and political groups and factions and sects as only someone who has lived in this part of the world could do. It is amazing how he is able to present a straight-forward and intelligble account of so complex a situation. He deals with international intrigue by American Oil Companies, about the treatment of women, about Pakistan's and Saudi Arabia's support of the Taliban. Each and every chapter of this book contains valuable information to anyone interest in understanding how a small, unknown and uneducated group of religious Islamic extremist could assist in the destruction of the WTC on 911 and threathen the financial security of many Western economies. Turn off CNN, put down the Times and sit down to read a book which will provide an important framework for dealing with the problems we face today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive background to recent events
Anyone who wades through the detail-laden and sometimes turgid prose that comprises *Taliban* will end up far more knowledgeable about Afghanistan and southern Asian politics generally than could possibly result from mere exposure to the usual, highly filtered news sources upon which we usually depend. What's most interesting about *Taliban* is that it is written from a non-Western, and especially non-American point of view. Consequently, the author makes apparent that although the United States has blundered in its policies toward southern Asia, most of the principal causes of the problems in the region have to do with autonomous dynamics and conflicts with lengthy histories that have little or nothing to do with U.S. actions.

Rashid first covers the history and trajectory of the Taliban movement up through 1999 or so, and then circles back to discuss various particular themes related to the rise and reign of this peculiar and in many ways frightening religious movement. These include their draconian and inhumanly strict social agenda (particularly their horrendous treatment of women), the role of the drug trade and smuggling generally in Afghani (and Pakistani) society, the roles of various religious and ethnic factions within the conflicts afflicting the region, the wider set of geopolitical conflicts involving Afghanistan's neighboring nations plus the larger powers such as Russia and the U.S., and the important (and in the context of the post-September 11 war, suspicious) role of oil and gas-related intrigue in the dynamics of the region.

All of these topics are treated carefully and analytically by Rashid, who offers thoughtful criticism of just about all parties involved in the current mess. Being Pakastini himself, he has perhaps the harshest words for his own government(s), who clearly were responsible for the rise of the Taliban beginning in 1994. Rashid places Pakistani support for the Taliban within a broader campaign to increase Pakistan's influence in the region. Unfortunately, as the author points out, the Taliban has ultimately exerted more influence and control over Pakistan's domestic situation than the Pakistanis have been able to exert over Mullah Omar and the rest of the Taliban.

The United States certainly is shown to share in the blame for the current problems afflicting Afghanistan. It is well-known that the anti-Soviet war that began in 1979 was largely supported by the U.S. in proxy fashion through the Pakistani ISI intelligence agency. After the Soviets left in 1989, however, the Americans simply lost interest in the Afghani situation and when civil war and chaos emerged the Americans did virtually nothing to help ameliorate Afghanistan's woes. When the Taliban emerged in 1994 as a "stabilizing influence" for a war-torn nation, the Americans first considered supporting them, partly because it was believed the Taliban might be amenable to overtures by Unocal to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. Only when the Taliban clearly showed its misogynist, barbaric character did the Clinton administration finally begin to condemn them. By that time these "religious students" were already harboring Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda henchmen, thus setting the stage for the events of September 11 and since.

Overall, *Taliban* is a fascinating but certainly depressing tale
of international and interethnic politics at its real-life worst. What emerges is a picture in which every nation, every religious denomination, every economic faction, and every ethnic group apparently acts purely out of short-term self-interest, with virtually no one exhibiting a willingness to respect the bigger, longer term picture or the "greater good." The American bombing campaign to drive the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan may seem heavy-handed and brutal, but within the context of the broader historical picture as portrayed by Rashid, it's apparently merely the latest version of "business as usual" in south Asian politics.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to understand a new enemy....
Taliban I have to say is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time. Ahmed tells us the history of Afghanistan and how the Taliban came into power through bloody war. Also he tells us how the Taliban came together through the war with the Soviet's, and how they think. The Taliban ran Afghanistan until the U.S. led invasion threw them out of power in that country and established a provisional government ran by President Harmid Karzi. Of course this book came out in 2000 before they were thrown out of power, but the Taliban leaders banned sports, kite-flying, music, they destroyed women's rights forcing them to wear the buqura and not allowing them to attend school, to work, and they put some harsh rules which they go by the Shaiah rule. They wanted to bring back the time where the Prophet Muhammed was still alive; meaning that they wanted to bring Afghanistan back to the 7th century. Now when we look at the Taliban through this book, we wonder 'why would these men do something like this to women and be so damn strict?'. During the time of Muhammed, things were different in the 7th century, but things have changed and they didnt like what they saw in the world with women going to school, working, and being in society.
Women during the time of the Taliban were forced to stay inside the house and could not go out unless they were with a man of blood or their husband. It's sad that these men were so extreme, but under Islam, this is not the way that the prophet Muhammed wanted; he wanted peace and unity with the world, it was the Taliban who wanted to bring back the world to the 7th century, and am I glad we got rid of the Taliban? Yes, but still in Afghanistan; beyond Kabul, women are still treated like crap because of warlords that have rules like the Taliban. Is this book worth reading? Of course, but try to read it with a open mind and understand how these men think.

1-0 out of 5 stars A sleeping pill
Here we have a fascinating subject made dull by bad writing and the Yale Press distaste for copyediting. As with Tim Judah's "The Serbs," a clumsy, academic style overwhelms the text, turning recent history into routine textbook mush. Shame. Like a mediocre grad student, Ahmed Rashid depends on rote listing of names and dates as a means of conveying expertise. Bad move. Anyone with access to Google and a word processor can cut-&-paste the facts. Taking this approach also assumes that readers have an encyclopedic knowledge of Afghanistan. Another mistake. You'll have to excuse my ignorance and audacity, but credible reporters fill in the blanks with more than minute details about the career trajectory of a particular tribe's onetime third-in-command and eventual exile. Detail upon detail is hurled at the reader in this manner without regard for context or relevance to later events. This is painful reading. Do not be fooled by the good reviews. The author needs to go back to school and learn that he inclusion of every imaginable detail does not indicate solid journalism or scholarship, but overcompensation or a small mind's thirst for tenure. Let me make myself absolutely clear-this book represents the worst of historical scholarship and journalism. The author subordinates the reporting of actual events to tedious listing of defunct military cells and which of their members belong to the Taliban. Lengthy quotes from Taliban members reiterating this narrative are employed, AP style, demonstrating the author's wholesale lack of genuine technique yet solid grasp of journalistic padding. Some chapters read like a gossip sheet for terrorists--a Taliban Enquirer, if you will. Feel free to skip around this book as you would any bloated article in The Economist. You can sniff out the relevant information and feel satisfied that only a sucker would suffer through the rest. On a final note, over 100 other people have reviewed this book and most are enthusiastic. My guess is in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 readers wanted info about the Taliban from a more thorough and knowledgeable source than CNN or Fox News. Now that the scare is over, you can restore your critical faculties and call this book what it is.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of Afghanistan and the Taliban
This is a great book for anyone hoping to learn about Afghanistan or the Taliban. Starting with a thorough summary of Afghanistan's history and the people who inhabit it, he goes all the way up to the current day and age and gives the reader a very good idea of the main players in the Taliban, where they came from, and what they want.
Ahmed Rashid knows his stuff, he has personal experience with the nation and with many of the people he writes about. I doubt you'll find anyone else with his perspective writing books.
It's a very well written and engaging book. From a purely entertainment standpoint the book also does well, you'll enjoy it.
A lot of misinformation can be found about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the role of other nations, mainly the US, in their creation, reading this will give you a much better and much more accurate picture. ... Read more

17. Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Journal of Democracy Book)
by Larry Jay Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, Daniel Brumberg
list price: $17.95
our price: $17.95
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Asin: 0801878489
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Sales Rank: 223239
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Book Description

Islam and Democracy in the Middle East provides a comprehensive assessment of the origins and staying power of Middle East autocracies, as well as a sober account of the struggles of state reformers and opposition forces to promote civil liberties, competitive elections, and a pluralistic vision of Islam. Drawing on the insights of some twenty-five leading Western and Middle Eastern scholars, the book highlights the dualistic and often contradictory nature of political liberalization. As the case studies of Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Yemen suggest, political liberalization—as managed by the state—not only opens new spaces for debate and criticism, but is also used as a deliberate tactic to avoid genuine democratization. In several chapters on Iran, the authors analyze the benefits and costs of limited reform. There, the electoral successes of President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies inspired a new generation but have not as yet undermined the clerical establishment's power. By contrast, in Turkey a party with Islamist roots is moving a discredited system beyond decades of conflict and paralysis, following a stunning election victory in 2002.

Turkey's experience highlights the critical role of political Islam as a force for change. While acknowledging the enduring attraction of radical Islam throughout the Arab world, the concluding chapters carefully assess the recent efforts of Muslim civil society activists and intellectuals to promote a liberal Islamic alternative. Their struggles to affirm the compatibility of Islam and pluralistic democracy face daunting challenges, not least of which is the persistent efforts of many Arab rulers to limit the influence of all advocates of democracy, secular or religious.

Contributors: Shaul Bakhash, George Mason University; Ladan Boroumand, Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran; Roya Boroumand, Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation; Jason Brownlee, Princeton University; Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University; Abdelwahab El-Affendi, University of Westminster; Haleh Esfandiari, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Abdou Filali-Ansary, editor of Prologues: revue maghrébine du livre; Michael Herb, Georgia State University; Ramin Jahanbegloo, Aga Khan University, London; Mehrangiz Kar, lawyer, writer, and human rights activist; E. Fuat Keyman, Koç University, Istanbul; Laith Kubba, National Endowment for Democracy; Vickie Langohr, College of the Holy Cross; Bernard Lewis, Princeton University; Russell Lucas, Wake Forest University; Abdeslam Maghraoui, Princeton University; Radwan Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Washington, D.C.; Ziya Önis; Koç University; Soli Ozel, Bilgi University, Istanbul; William Quandt, University of Virginia; Jillian Schwedler, University of Maryland, College Park; Jean-François Seznec, Columbia University and Georgetown University; Emmanuel Sivan, Hebrew University; Mohamed Talbi, independent scholar; Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times. ... Read more

18. Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart
by Hamza Yusuf
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1929694156
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: Starlatch Press
Sales Rank: 25225
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This exploration of Islamic spirituality delves into the psychological diseases and cures of the heart. Diseases examined include miserliness, envy, hatred, treachery, rancor, malice, ostentation, arrogance, covetousness, lust, and other afflictions that assail people and often control them. The causes and practical cures of these diseases are discussed, offering a penetrating glimpse into how Islam deals with spiritual and psychological problems and demonstrating how all people can benefit from these teachings. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars I can't think of an interesting title.
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf did a 24 tape lecture back in 1999, based on the original work of Sheikh <> called "Purification of the Heart". At the time he promised to provide the translation of the original work, and it seems that this is it.

The work is a compilation of the finite diseases of the heart, and the methods used to cure those diseases. The information is awesome for such short book, and useful for everyone. I would recommend people listen to the audio tapes also, but it is not required.

From my understanding, the book "Prophetic Invocations" is a companion book to this one. ... Read more

19. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society
by Fatima Mernissi
list price: $13.95
our price: $13.95
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Asin: 0253204232
Catlog: Book (1987-04-01)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Sales Rank: 59641
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very compelling, just a bit too academic
This book is like going through someone else's medicine cabinet. A fascinating look into the homes and bedrooms of the Middle East from a scholarly feminist perspective. The only problem is, it's a bit too scholarly to be a really quick and concise read. Still, Well worth buying.

5-0 out of 5 stars A much needed book
Excellent book on the female condition in many Muslim societies. ... More books like this need to be written to stimulate debate and hopefully change.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Study in Male-Female Relations in the MidEast
The topic of male-female dynamics in Muslim society is one of the main issues covered in the book, Beyond the Veil, by Fatima Mernissi. Mernissi covers a wide range of categories, all of which pertain to the female position in a Muslim society. Though much of the data comes from Moroccan society, the general subject matter attempts to describe all Muslim society. This book has two parts, one of which focuses on the traditional view of women, and the second, which focuses on a more modern and changing view of women¡¯s place in society. A fascinating look at women in Muslim society, this book pushes the reader to question previous biases, and take a look at women in a Muslim society from a Muslim perspective.
Beyond the Veil starts out by contrasting views on female sexuality. One view is that of Imman Ghazali, and the other view is that of Sigmund Freud. Ghazali claims that the female sexuality is active, and equal to the male sexuality. Therefore, females need to be restrained in order to prevent fitna (chaos) in the social order. Freud, on the other hand, sees female sexuality as passive, and therefore masochistic. Ironically, both theories attempt to prove the same point: that women, as uncontrollable beings, are destructive to the social order and need to be restrained.
Part two of the book starts out with interviews and data collection from Moroccan society. This information is mostly focused around sexual desegregation. Mernissi¡¯s conclusions basically say that the traditional/older generation is more sexually desegregated, while the more modernized/younger generation encourages desegregation. She also points out that rural societies are more sexually traditional than urban societies.
This book reveals much about Muslim society in a simplified manner. Mernissi draws her writings from various sources, including historical viewpoints, other writers on the topic, and interviews with Muslim women.
Beyond the Veil is not simply a one-dimensional view of male-female dynamics in Muslim society. The book covers all aspects of relationships between males and females, as well as the various positions women can take in a Muslim society. Mernissi allows for the reader to look three-dimensionally at the Muslim society, especially in regards to sexual space boundaries and desegregation, and form his or her personal opinion about the topic. Mernissi makes it somewhat simpler for the reader to understand the goals of the book by outlining the various dimensions as well as writing conclusions that draw from the section but also incorporate other ideas.
The objective of this book, explaining male-female dynamics in Muslim society, was quite clear and the writings of Mernissi certainly operationalized that objective. A non-fiction book that relied heavily on breakdowns of various interviews, Beyond the Veil, was more analytic than descriptive. However, this was an extremely effective way of scrutinizing the subject at hand. The information provided in the book would be particularly significant to those who are not familiar with Muslim society and wish to learn more about the ways in which males and females interact in this society.
Beyond the Veil explained many things to me, including the reasons behind female desegregation in Muslim society. Mernissi is thorough in her dissertation of male-female dynamics, and encourages the reader to form his or her own opinions about the topic. Beyond the Veil is a captivating look at the past, present, and future positions of women in a deeply complex Muslim society.

2-0 out of 5 stars Feminism against Islam
Book is in two parts . First section is women in Arabia before and after Islam, second part women in Morocco and some expantion into other muslim contries. Basically argument goes that women did not have any respect before and during Islam including during Prophet Mohammed (pbh) and only now they started to get some respect. I gues the argumet goes what is Islam and what is women's position in Islam. If you value women's position from Western standards that is a wrong stick to measure with. I was also dissapointed the way she was talking about Prophet Mohammed (pbh) with lack of respect.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sexuality within Islam
I thought this book was excellent and very informative concerning the issues Muslim women must deal with and the way in which their sexuality is viewed by themselves and other members of the Islamic community. ... Read more

20. Islam: A Short History
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679640401
Catlog: Book (2000-08-22)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 36023
Average Customer Review: 3.57 out of 5 stars
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The picture of Islam as a violent, backward, and insular traditionshould be laid to rest, says Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of Muhammad and A History of God. Delving deepinto Islamic history, Armstrong sketches the arc of a story that begins with thestirring of revelation in an Arab businessman named Muhammad. His concern withthe poor who were being left behind in the blush of his society's new prosperitysets the tone for the tale of a culture that values community as a manifestationof God. Muhammad's ideas catch fire, quickly blossoming into a political empire.As the empire expands and the once fractured Arabs subdue and overtake the vastPersian domain, the story of a community becomes a panoramic drama. With greatdexterity, Armstrong narrates the Sunni-Shi'ite schism, the rise of Persianinfluence, the clashes with Western crusaders and Mongolian conquerors, and thespiritual explorations that traced the route to God. Armstrong brings us throughthe debacle of European colonialism right up to the present day, putting Islamicfundamentalism into context as part of a worldwide phenomenon. Islam: A ShortHistory, like Bruce Lawrence's Shattering the Myth and MarkHuband's Warriors of theProphet, introduces us to a faith that beckons like a minaret to thosewho dare to venture beyond the headlines. --Brian Bruya ... Read more

Reviews (92)

2-0 out of 5 stars I don't accept this apology
In the years soon following the death of Muhammad, the Islamic armies burst out of the Arabian peninsula, shattering most of the armies that stood against them, and soon held dominion over Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. And for what purpose? For the spreading of the holy word of Allah? As wars of forced conversion? No, silly westerner, these wars against non-Muslims were simply to promote community spirit. 'they wanted plunder and a common activity that would preserve the unity of the ummah.' It wasn't about Islam at all. This is the sort of defensive argument you will read about in Armstrong's Islam: A Short History.

Karen Armstrong is an apologist for Islam. Her tone of defensiveness fills the book with far more examples than I could cite here. Although she sometimes concedes that a few impure so-called Muslims occasionally misbehave, the reader gets the distinct impression that they never act in groups larger than three or four at a time. And since this is an apologist book, I will evaluate it as such. It fails.

The book opens with an account of the life of Muhammad. Although I will grant that many of the specific facts cited in the book (and there are a ton of them) are carefully researched, I had the distinct impression that the discussion in the beginning was not presented very critically. It sounds like something out of an Islamic equivalent of Sunday school. No doubt it is the way Muslims prefer to think of him, but is some historical analysis too much to ask for in a history book?

After a short account of his life and the years immediately following, we are treated to a fast paced recitation of leaders and dates and movements within the religion. A fair portion of the remaining book is done is this style. It is impossible, of course, to remember all the details on first reading, but it will present a basic outline of the course of Islamic theology for several centuries.

Periodically Armstrong takes a breathing break and does some editorializing. Thus, we read her extremely brief account of the Crusades with words like 'tragically', 'massacred', and 'aggressive Western intrusion'. Earlier, of course, we learn that though the Muslims were stopped by Charles Martel from invading France in 732 from their recent conquest in Spain, it turns out that they didn't really want Europe anyway because the weather was so bad. I guess they changed their minds when the Ottomans invaded the Balkans and went as far as Vienna, where I understand the sun shines three hundred days a year. And the jihad under Selim I (1467-1520) is called 'phenomenally successful', even though it was also directed at Syria and Egypt, just like the Crusades. Am I being petty? The book is full of these, some not so glaring, some worse, but this forum does have a word count limitation.

The last section is about contemporary times. As I expected by the time I reached it, it was a laundry list of denials about the Islamic world's hatred of the West. Sometimes she seems to be simultaneously saying that they don't hate us, and besides, they have good reason to so don't be so surprised. She cites the Soviet Union as an example of how enlightened societies are not always peaceful. Hello? Who called the USSR enlightened? She points out that the non-Islamist government of Iran in the twenties and thirties had soldiers rip veils off women and cut them up (the veils) with bayonets. She makes no mention of what Khomeini's rule was like, or how people suffered at the hands of the religious police, but reminds us only of how Khomeini deviated from 'true' Islam. In the end, one gets the impression that we should judge a religion only by the actions of a few thousand followers in the time of Muhammad and not by the billions that have followed. This seems to be a common attitude in many religions, and Armstrong is no exception.

I bought this book knowing full well that I would probably get an apologist's view of Islam. I really was hoping that she would make some sort of dispassionate argument that explained why Islam is seen so poorly in the West (if it is, but I'm not sure that's really the case). I deliberately read it before some of the harsher books I ordered to give it the full benefit of the doubt. It wasn't as bad as it might have been, but even if it is really her goal only to clear up misconceptions, she has failed. I give the book credit for apparently exhaustively researched facts and data, but in tone and omission I simply cannot recommend this book to anyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars Goes down easy...
Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God, writes well. She has a gift with words and a style that eases the reader through very difficult material.

I was highly enthused when I first got hold of this book. Like her other books, it is easy to read and highly engaging. She summarizes a very complex history nicely and covers major points of this history in encapsulated prose. If you are looking for a good overview of their history this is a great place to start.

Now for the bad news. She, in attempting to make the book palatable and not bogged down in theology and the 'warts and all' of historical detail, only skims the surface. I was left wondering what went wrong with Islam. If the view of Islam presented here is the 'true' Islam, how do we grapple with what it has become (at least its presentation in the more popular Western media outlets)? This book does not seek to answer those questions. Some have accused her of 'whitewashing' Islam's history. I suppose we must look at her intent. I believe she has attempted to write a good entry-level book in order to engage the reader to the positives rather than the negatives (which are much too easy to find) in order to even desire to understand it rather than attack it outright. In this she has succeeded quite well.

If you wish to understand the deeper meanings and varied histories of Islam's history, you may start here but do not be fooled. This book only scratches the surface.

1-0 out of 5 stars A dishonest account
To see why the author is not truthful about Islam, read Irshad Manji, The Trouble with Islam. Manji is very honest about her faith, and is at the same time, loyal to the faith.

Manji admits that the Prophet of Islam is an opressor of women. She admits that the Koran has Antisemitic diatribes, and is full of contradictions. Unlike Armstrong, she is honest.

3-0 out of 5 stars Islam and democracy: an imposible goal?
Other reviewers have noticed, better than me, the flaws of the book, regarding the consistency of it - is not all only history -.

My point is the historical evolution of the arab political states. The review Ms. Armstrong makes shows that only in the XXth century arab nations tried democracy as a way of goverment, but, as Ms. Armstrong notes, the western countries create setbacks when the results of the elections don't please them (the sad example of France foreign policy and Algeria and Tunisia in the mid nineties).

I think that the future of the region and of their relations towards western countries will depend deeply on the acceptance, by the western leaders, that the region and their people need to follow their own history of mistakes and learning, and still they do that way, is right they have enough freedom to develop their very particular ways of political organization. The western modernization the region needs is the western modernization their people could accept, at their own pace. I have the feeling the besides all our kind manners and politically right words, the western political elites think like Mr. Belusconi,head of italian goverment: Our culture is superior. That systematic underestimation of a just different way of being and acting towards life and other people should produce only troubles. And it does.

Islam and democracy is a posible goal only if the western world respects more the arab world than before, at the same time they cooperate together as equal partners. Other ways - like imposing "our" standards, with no regard to the history of the countries and their colective values - produce the present that we live now and that we watch at TV news.

The western world is part of the problems of the arab world. And fortunately, an active part of their solutions too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Karen Armstrong has no hypocrisy
To the people who gave low stars on this great book, please read the following (not from Quran though):
"When you march up to attack a city, first offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to your terms of peace and opens its gates to you, all the people to be found in it shall serve you in forced labor. But if it refuses to make peace with you and instead offers you battle ... put every male in it to the sword. But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them; (Deuteronomy 20:10-17).

"The Lord said to Moses, "Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people." So Moses said to the people, "Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites and to carry out the Lord's vengeance on them. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the Lord in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord's people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man....(Read the rest in Old Testament Numbers 31)

During the Bosnia war in 1992, the Christain Serbs did exactly the same to the Bosnian Muslims. Tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women were brutally raped (as young as six years old child to as old as 60 years old woman) and almost 200,000 people died. The Christian Serbs were following the bible word by word.

Those who think it was only Muslims who committed atrocities in the past, the following is a list for them to review:

1. Crusaders raped and murdered millions in the middle east for two centuries. They not only attacked the Muslims and the Jews, also the local Arab Christians. To them and their descendants even the Arab Christians are bad.

2. The Europeans brutally terrorized and colonized the whole world for the last five centuries- Africa, Asia, Latin America, and even America by decimating the native Indians (even by deliberately spreading germs). They committed untold atrocities in many parts. Ya! Muslims sould not have been in Europe at all!

3. Spanish inquisition left not even a single Muslims or Jews in Spain. Many were murdered, driven away to North Africa, and forcefully converted to Christianity. Have you guys heard of conversos, matamoros? How many Christians were living in Spain under the Moors? Ask your conscience.

4. 2,000 Muslim women and children were brutally gang-raped for seven days and later murdered by the Lebanese Christians which was permitted by then Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon in Shattila Shabra refugee camp.

5. 1 million tutsis were brutally murdered by their Christian brethren in Rwanda in just a month!

The list will go on forever. Bottom line is getting rid of hypocrisy is very difficult process. It needs an open unbiased mind to start. ... Read more

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