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121. Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared
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123. Islam, Gender and Social Change
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140. Islam: A Very Short Introduction

121. Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America
by YOSSEF BODANSKY
list price: $17.95
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Asin: 0761535810
Catlog: Book (2001-09-21)
Publisher: Prima Lifestyles
Sales Rank: 59358
Average Customer Review: 3.54 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In August 1998 two powerful car bombs exploded simultaneously outside U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. In Nairobi, the force of the blast shattered windows more than a quarter mile away. Less than two weeks later the United States retaliated by launching cruise missiles directed against terrorist camps in both Afghanistan and Sudan. The real target, however, was one man who has become the symbol of Islamic terror. "Our mission was clear," a somber President Clinton told the nation. "To strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today."




"Fascinating account. I strongly recommend it."
— Jeane J. Kirkpatrick




In meticulous detail, world-renowned terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky uncovers the events in bin Laden's life that turned the once-promising engineering student into a cold-blooded leader of radical Islam. In the process, Bodansky pulls together a chilling story that is as current as today's headlines but as ancient as the Crusades; a story that transcends bin Laden and any other single man, one that sweeps from Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Kosovo and beyond. He takes you deep into the heart of centuries-old hatreds that have produced generations of bin Ladens and a terror network of underground armies that can strike virtually anywhere in the world. Fueled by Middle Eastern oil wealth and covertly armed by some of America's closest allies, this terror network is waging a brutal guerrilla war whose aim is nothing short of changing the course of history. The battlefields are increasingly Western city streets and the casualties are most often innocents caught in the crossfire.

Including new information about bin Laden's pursuit of chemical and nuclear weapons, covert deals between the U.S. and Islamic terrorists, and American foreign policy blunders that have cost countless lives, this book is a sobering wake-up call. ... Read more

Reviews (80)

4-0 out of 5 stars Prophetic Account of a Chilling Subject
As might be imagined, "Bid Laden, The Man Who Declared War on America" is an alarming book. And the fact that it was written two years before 9/11/01 makes it more so, since the narrative puts the events of that day into the context of an unfolding political reality that has been too long in the making to be resolved any time soon. The title is somewhat misleading, and I picked the book up thinking it was going to be a biography of sorts. However, other than some perfunctory material on Bid Laden's youth, the study isn't really about Bid Laden himself so much as it is about the violent political movement, of which he is a leader, that has evolved from Islamic eschatology. Bodansky takes his readers on a trip through the snake pit of Middle Eastern and radical Islamic politics, which he portrays as a world where wealth, self-interest, violence, religious doctrine, and state policy are intertwined inextricably. It's also a world where loyalties or even strategic alliances don't seem to exist much beyond ephemeral alignments around tactical objectives that shift with the political wind. In this light, Bodansky - who is a consultant to the U.S. government - reveals much about our supposed friends in the region. He describes Pakistan as one of the primary architects behind the terrorist infrastructure managed by Bid Laden and other leading Islamists. He portrays the Saudi government as a craven and tottering regime which continues to provide lavish funding to this infrastructure as a kind of protection money to keep it's activities away from Saudi soil. Bodansky, of course, turns his cynical eye on the U.S. too, reminding us that we ourselves collaborated in birthing this movement, nurturing its spectacularly successful war against our one-time enemy, the Soviet Union. As for the Islamists, they see themselves now as simply continuing to fight the same war, having destroyed one "superpower" and now taking aim at the other in their campaign to overturn the prevailing world order. Bodansky depicts them as dedicated to a eschatological vision in which all secular states are overthrown by whatever means necessary and replaced by a kind of global Islamic government, which will usher in heavenly peace and glory. The parallels between this vision and that of messianic communism are as striking as they are ironic, since both justify political violence as a tool necessary for achieving a glorious albeit it ill-defined future. Of the two visions, the Islamic seems more dangerous in the nuclear age, since doctrinaire communists, being atheists, were made cautious by their belief that they had to achieve their heaven on earth. Bodansky quotes extensively from Bid Laden and others, and their words make clear that they believe that in a global conflagration they would be sending themselves to heaven and their enemies to hell, not inhibiting themselves with much of a disincentive. Bodansky seems to know almost too much about some things, leading one to question the extent to which he might be interjecting his own supposition into this narrative as ostensibly factual material. For example, he states unequivocally the Bid Laden already possesses nuclear weapons, although not necessary the means to deliver them. While this may be true, Bodanksy doesn't provide much basis for his startling conclusion, nor for many of the other observations he makes about the private relationships said to exist between various terrorist factions and governments. In his introduction, he addresses the problem of the credibility of his material by saying that elucidating his sources would compromise their security. While on one level this seems entirely fair, it has the unfortunate effect of relieving the author of a burden which all academic writers should have to bear of drawing a crisp line between conjecture and well-grounded reporting. Despite these limitations, the big picture Bodansky draws clearly has the force of much knowledge behind it, and it is acquires a prophetic aura now in light of the events occurring after the book was written. Most Americans - myself included - are dangerously ignorant about Islam in all its manifestations, both good and bad. While this book, focussing as it does on a violent fringe, probably should be read alongside more balanced treatments of Islamic culture, I recommend it to anyone trying to make sense of the new geo-political environment in which we have suddenly found ourselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars BEST PROFILE OF ISLAMIST TERROR--PERIOD.
Bodansky simply has the inside track on what's going on in the world of Islamist terrorism. He predicted that the '93 WTC bombing was only the beginning in his 1993 book "Target America" and this pre-9/11 release proves to be equally prohetic. My greatest frustration with this book was that it went to press before even the U.SS. COLE bombing in Yemen so we don't get the story behind the most recent events, but perhaps this makes Bodansky's intuitions about the terror to come even more impressive. His most startling revelations regard the key involvement of state-sponsors in all of "al Qaeda"'s major operations, particularly the roles of Iran and Iraq. Recently many pundits have doubted these connections, pointing to Saddam's secular regime and Iran's Shi'ite ideology as being diametrically opposed to bin Laden and his beliefs. These arguments are agressively and convincingly refuted in Bodansky's book, and if you still need convincing read ex-CIA man Robert Baer's "See No Evil" or Bill Gertz's "Breakdown" amongst others. If you want to understand the way Islamist terror works and the precise nature of the threat, read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Important Book
I am fairly well educated (Master's degree) and read a lot (3 newspapers a day and 5-6 books a month), but this is the most important book I have ever read. While it does have some errors (mostly about bin Laden's early life and family), overall it is the most complete history and description of the Islamist movement that I have seen.

To be honest, I did not understand what the Islamist movement was before reading this book. Nothing in newspapers or on television has explained this movement as clearly and comprehensively as Bodansky has with this book. Essentially, it is a totalitarian political movement cloaked by Islam. It has many similarities to communism - a utopian view that their philosophy will make life/the world perfect, lack of civil rights, no free press, no freedom of religion, only the Islamic movement makes it especially bad for women. Examples of this type of government can be seen in Iran, Sudan and Taliban-era Afghanistan. Its religious cover makes it attractive to many devout Muslims, some of whom seem to believe the whole world should be either Muslim or dead. Many of the leaders of the Islamsist movement have said that the ultimate goal of the Islamist movement is world domination. And that seems to be how they are behaving.

The most shocking thing about this book is that it was written before 9/11 and predicted some sort of "spectacular" and "devastating" attack on the US, either in New York or Washington, DC.

I was disappointed to read about the US/Clinton Administration's response to attacks prior to 9/11 (this book was written long before 9/11 and ends in 1999). While the Clinton Administration did attempt some retaliation, it was, from the terrorists' standpoint, laughable and accomplished nothing more than making the US look ridiculous. This seems to be mostly due to the incredible naivete of that administration with regard to the growing threat of the Islamist movement.

I feel as though this book has allowed me to read the news about the Middle East now with some comprehension of what specific events really mean. I understand the difficult situation we are in and expect that it will probably last for many more years. This is not an easy book - it is detailed and complicated to read and contains information that is hard to digest. Still, it was the most important book I have ever read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Background for Sept. 11th 2001
Before 9/11, I did not who Osama Bin Laden was, this book tells you in no uncertain terms who he is and what we as a nation are up against. This book was written about 2.5 years before 9/11 and our war on terrorism but it will give you answers to the questions people are asking now. The link between Osama and Iraq, where the WMD's are, etc. In the light of 9/11 this is one eye opening and scary book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Over the Top in Iraq, Brilliant in All Other Respects


The author is a brilliant Arabist who has refined the art of acquiring and exploiting open sources of information on bin Laden and terrorism to a near science. His "MOSQINT" lectures draw packed houses of professional intelligence officers from over 40 countries.

The book is a hard read, but if one desires to understand the murky inter-relationships among the *governments* of Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, among others, the businesses and charities working actively to channel government and private funds to terrorists, and the global loosely-knit network of "fellow travelers" and jihadists, then this book is "Ref A."

In my personal view, the author is a bit over the top in trying to link Iraq to bin Laden. This reminds of the Claire Sterling-Ollie North school of "anything goes" as long as you believe it. Having said that (and so has Vaclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia, who personally dismissed a lie consistently told by the Bush Administration about a meeting in Prague between a terrorist known by the FBI to have been in Florida at the time, and an Iraqi intelligence officer), I give the book very high marks in all other respects.

The Conclusion, appropriately Chapter 13, is titled "What Next." The book is worthy of purchase and recurring reference for this chapter alone. Especially troubling is the documentation of how many terrorists are moving around the world on legitimate passports from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Turkey, Kuwait, Algeria, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and other countries. The book adds confirmation to the many other references I have seen (many posted to OSS.Net news and reference section) regarding the active involvement of the Pakistani intelligence service in funding and training and facilitating travel for bin Laden personally, for his top lieutenants, and for terrorists in general.

The author's focus in the conclusion on the potential for Central Asia (all former khanates, all Muslim, all angry separatists from the Soviet Union) is especially interesting, as we see the beginnings of a "third front" there, with India-Pakistan being a fourth front, and South Asia a fifth front. Latin America and Africa are the sixth front. In brief, the author is one of those documenting the depth and scope of a global terrorism threat that the Bush Administration has unwisely chosen to attack with conventional military means, on six different fronts, none of which is sustainable in the medium or long term.

The author anticipated terrorist attacks against the UN and NATO when he discusses, on page 403, the Muslim declarations that include the UN and NATO in the fatwas against the USA, because the Muslim world "is being deceived by [these organizations], because they are hostile to Muslims and are responsible for all the massacres being perpetrated against Muslims in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Albania, and Kosovo." The UN in Iraq has been hit twice. I expect NATO in Afghanistan to be hit several times between now and the end of 2003, and I expect US special forces units to be massacred in detail in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

Bin Laden, dead or alive. Right. Bin Laden could not, in his wildest prayers to Allah, have imagined a better partner for fostering terrorism around the world than hip-shooting cowboy and unilateralist George W. Bush. Bin Laden created a global system of terrorism, the fire if you will, and George W. Bush and his neo-conservatives are blindly pouring $250 billion worth of tax-payer funded gasoline on that fire.

The author has recently been the recipient of the Golden Candle Award from the international open source intelligence committee. His citation reads:

"For his global multi-lingual open source investigations into terrorism, and his extraordinary professional achievement in writing and publishing "BIN LADEN: The Man Who Declared War on America", years before the 9-11 World Trade Center demonstration of what well-funded suicidal terrorism can achieve when intelligence and policy both fail to focus on the threat."

Whatever research or opinion flaws might be contained in this book, it is an essential reference in understanding both the dangers of terrorism, and the futility of the current US "strategy" for defeating terrorism by hammering and then abandoning Afghanistan and Iraq. ... Read more


122. Muslims Next Door: Uncovering Myths and Creating Friendships
by Shirin Taber
list price: $9.99
our price: $8.99
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Asin: 0310255643
Catlog: Book (2004-09-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 62664
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Book Description

Shirin Taber takes us from fears and false stereotypes and shows us a unique perspective of how North American Muslims live and think.The reader will uncover myths, learn to create friendships with Muslim neighbors and relationally show them Christ. ... Read more


123. Islam, Gender and Social Change
by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, John L. Esposito
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
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Asin: 0195113578
Catlog: Book (1997-10-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 440986
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For several decades, the Muslim world has experienced a religious resurgence. The reassertion of Islam in personal and political life has taken many forms, from greater attention to religious practice to the emergence of Islamic organizations, movements, and institutions. One of the most controversial and emotionally charged aspects of this revival has been its effect on women in the Muslim societies.

The essays collected in this book place this issue in its historical context and offer case studies of Muslim societies from North Africa to Southeast Asia. These fascinating studies shed light on the impact of the Islamic resurgence on gender issues in Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Oman, Bahrain, the Philippines, and Kuwait. Taken together, the essays reveal the wide variety that exists among Muslim societies and believers, and the complexity of the issues under consideration. They show that new things are happening for women across the Islamic world and that these are being initiated in many cases by women themselves. The volume as a whole militates against the stereotype of Muslim women as repressed, passive, and without initiative, while acknowledging the very real obstacles to women's initiates in most of these societies. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Enough Book...
But I highly suggest you look up a group called "Women Living Under Islamic Law" on the internet. Much of the information found in this book can be found in their various position and informational papers for free.

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful and interesting
I was looking for this book for a while. Once I found it made me more confident on my research. I realized I am on right way, Thanks GOD! But I would like to see more analitical and methodological information about women's issues regarding to Qur'anic studies. But anyway it is quite interesting and useful book. Thanks a lot! ... Read more


124. The Heart of Islam : Enduring Values for Humanity
by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
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Asin: 0060730641
Catlog: Book (2004-09-01)
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco
Sales Rank: 342896
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The world's leading Islamicist and foremost Muslim expert on the West offers a timely expression of the core spiritual and social values of Islam, showing their complementarity to Jewish and Christian values as well as their positive contribution to a peaceful and humane global future.

... Read more

Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars Believe that more than hate binds the Muslim community
Too many Christians fall into the trap of believing their own press when it comes to other religions. Having a dialogue with other faiths is much harder, particularly on your own beliefs, when you set aside your own "experts" and entertain the beliefs of others from within their own community. I think this is the heart of real dialogue. For American Christians, Nasr's book is a must-read if you wish to have the slightest insight into what Islam is really about. I found much to build on with Muslims and look forward to learning more about this faith.

5-0 out of 5 stars 150 9/11-anniversary books got it wrong - but not this one!
This book is the most widely commanding and compelling counter argument to the vicious slander of Islam's true and good nature.It took me some time to ponder through the implications of all the deep insights beautifully laid out.Many of the negative reviews repeat kindergarten criticisms and lies about Islam that are completely covered by the author, proving that these people didn't read the book enough.Hard to beleive that after all the protection of persecuted Christians and Jews afforded by magnaminous Muslim rulers throughout history, now this spite?Hate encourages the turning of the blind eye and deaf ear, but knowledge and truthfullness bears the surprising fruit of mutual goodwill.If Christians forget that the Inquisition, the Nazi holacaust, and the Nagasaki episodes occurred within the Christian world of influence, know that Muslims can be thankful of that, can look with pity, and can hold out a word of encourgement.Grow up.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary work by one of the greatest thinkers ever
An exquisite work which again demonstrates the genius of Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

2-0 out of 5 stars A One-Sided View
While Nasr does point to good values found in the common faiths of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, his views are quite one-sided.He calls himself a person who sees the "transcendental reality in all religions."This is clearly not coming from an orthodox Moslem.I tend to get the impression that Nasr is a liberal, reformist who tries to modernize his faith, which HAS historically been engaged in conquest and forced conversion (such as through economic discrimination by forced higher taxes for non-Muslims.)Mr. Nasr fails to interpret the Quran literally, the way any true believer of a faith would.Numerous times in the Quran women are degraded, Muslims are encouraged to kill and retaliate towards non-Muslims, and Muhammed is allowed to do as he pleases in the "name of Allah."
Mr. Nasr should not try to justify his religion as one of peace, but should look to the reality of the threat of Islam to the western world and the dangers to Christians of this militaristic faith.Just look at Christians in the Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, and the Malaysian states.This book tends to leave one with a very one-sided viewpoint, written about a faith that has historically, culturally, and presently posed a danger to those that do not belong to it.Maybe Nasr should not try to be a voice for the entire religion, but rather, his watered-down version of a real threat to the modern world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Remarkable
In this book you will find a truthful and accurate presentation of Islam from a tremendous scholar.If you want to know what over a billion of the world's people find so attractive about this religion, then read this book because you will find the correct answers here.

Unveiling Islam and Sword of the Prophet of Islam are pure trash and biased presentations aimed at defiling one of the world's great religions.

Just check out Prof. Hossein Nasr's credentials and you will find a man of immense integrity, humility, compassion and a genuine seeker of truth. ... Read more


125. Textual Sources for the Study of Islam (Textual Sources for the Study of Religion)
list price: $18.00
our price: $18.00
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Asin: 0226720632
Catlog: Book (1990-10-15)
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 555374
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Book Description

"[This collection] is distinguished by its wide range and the care which has clearly gone into the selection of texts for inclusion. . . . Attention has understandably been focused on what might be called the religious aspects of Islam, such as scripture, theology, sects, law, ritual and mysticism, but within those limits the texts chosen are marked by substantially of content, by geographical, chronological and social diversity, and by an intelligent use of less well known authors. . . . An excellent starting point for a systematic and analytical examination of Islam."--G. R. Hawting, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


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126. The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam
by Jennifer Heath
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
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Asin: 1587680203
Catlog: Book (2004-05-01)
Publisher: Hidden Spring
Sales Rank: 378904
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Scimitar and the Veil portrays over thirty extraordinary Muslim women from the birth of Islam through the 19th century. From scholars to warriors to concubines and queens, The Scimitar and the Veil gathers scholarship about the women of Islam into one fascinating book presented for a general readership.

Based on sources ranging from Swahili lore to Persian pageant plays to Muslim feminist writings to the explorations of Western scholars of Islam, The Scimitar and the Veil is written in a poetic, sometimes humorous, energetic and contemporary style that will appeal to a broad range of readers.

Muhammad was born to a widowed mother, tended by a slave woman, and fostered by a Bedouin woman. His marriage to Khadija, a wealthy businesswoman from Mecca was long, fruitful, and faithful. She was the first to convert to Islam.

From Barakah, Muhammad's surrogate mother, and Fatima, his cherished daughter, to the Sufi mystic Rabi'a, The Scimitar and the Veil is the first popular history and overview of Muslim women and their great accomplishments. While there are other books about women in Islam, The Scimitar and the Veil is the most comprehensive and written in a style meant to appeal to a general audience. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A popular history and survey of fifty Muslim women
The Scimitar And The Veil: Extraordinary Women Of Islam by author and journalist Jennifer Heath introduces American readers to women who are historically significant in the development of Islam as one of the great world religions. Beginning with his widowed mother, a female slave who tended him in childhood, and the Bedouin woman who fostered him; to his marriage to Khadija (a wealthy businesswoman from Mecca), to his four daughters, and Umm Salamah (one of his later wives upon whom he relied for military and political advice), to Aisha, another of his wives in whose presence he experienced revelations, women played import-ant, influential roles in the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The Scimitar And The Veil is a popular history and survey of fifty Muslim women and their contributions ranging from the very birth of Islam in the 7th Century CE to the 19th Century CE. These women numbered queens, poets, musicians, storytellers, mystics, and saints among their ranks. No personal study of Islam or academic library Islamic Studies collection can be considered either complete or comprehensive without the prominent inclusion of Jennifer Heath's The Scimitar And The Veil.
... Read more


127. Islam: Faith and History
by Mahmoud M. Ayoub
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Asin: 185168350X
Catlog: Book (2005-03-25)
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Sales Rank: 211421
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Book Description

Combining the personal with the scholarly, this innovative introduction gives the reader an insight into Islam and its rich history. ... Read more


128. The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam
by Fatima Mernissi, Mary Jo Lakeland
list price: $18.95
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Asin: 0201632217
Catlog: Book (1992-11-01)
Publisher: Perseus Books Group
Sales Rank: 51073
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Badly needed reading in this time of fear and ignorance
I used this book 6 years ago for my thesis on Islam and feminism. It cleared up many preconceptions I had about Muslim women and the religion of Islam itself. I never revisited my research about Islam until September 11, 2001. This books shows the historical reasons behind oppressive interpretations and explain Muhammad's egalitarian vision. I use this book to educate people and show that the violent, woman-oppressing Islam is a product of hisotry and culture and not religion. This is not a time for merciless overreaction; it is a time to learn about those things few understand.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent and learned, but really for muslims
Fatima Mernissi's book is a fascinating excursion through her own journey of discovery. She takes us from a man's put-down of her with the Hadith "those who entrust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity", to an enlightened understanding of the historical context in which the oppressive traditions of Islam arose.

After explaining her background in the introduction she deals with the above hadith and how it came about, she analyzes the role of women in early Islam and especially the prophet's apparent view of women and a very in-depth and detailed discussion of how the veil, or hijab, came into being for Muslim women.

She shows that the denial of women's rights was not the intention of Allah, as the source of Holy Law, nor of Mohammed, but arose in the context of the pre-existing social values of the Arab world of the time, and of the vested political interests and power struggles of the period following Mohammed's death.

The study is very detailed and quite arcane, and although Ms Mernissi takes a lot of care to explain terminology and context, it really requires some background knowledge of Islam and Arabs. The book's main target audience is Moslem women, to show they do have rights within Islam, and possibly Moslem men. I believe westerners can learn from it, but are probably better served by reading more general books on Islamic history and culture. In particular non-Moslems need to understand that Islam is not a single culture, but in reality many traditions under one umbrella, in much the same way that Christendom encompasses many religious and cultural traditions.

4-0 out of 5 stars Liked it
I liked it. Mernissi gives you an understanind of how hadiths work, shows you proof that Hadith may have been well contaminated with personal bias as well as cultural bias. Good overall.

2-0 out of 5 stars Promising but unsuccessful
I had to read this book for an anthropology class taught by an intelligent but uberfeminist professor. There's an important point in this book that sheds light on its angle: when a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and full coverings was asked how she can walk around in the heat dressed in such a manner she responds something to the effect of "it's not as hot as the fires of hell." Mernissi is not about to challenge behaviors that are dictated by Islamic scriptures. Her argument is that the veil and woman's place in the Muslim society are a result of misinterpretation of the scriptures and the hadith. This is sort of akin to Christians trying to reinterpret creation as an instructive myth after Darwin shattered the fundamentalist vision of creation. I think Mernissi's approach is generally doomed because, if tradition has failed to maintain the original spirit of a religion, a new analysis almost 1500 years after the fact is almost certainly doomed. There are too many epistemological problems with diving the original intentions behind a text that is so old. Mernissi may convince some readers that her radically new interpretation is correct but only at the cost of introducing uncertainty and mistrust in the traditions themselves. Fatally wounding relgious traditions is nearly a fatal wound to the religion itself, and will only cause apathy or fundamentalist overreaction to a challenge of the status quo.

3-0 out of 5 stars An informative book
I found the first half of this book to be very well researched, with her logic based on solid foundations. I very much liked her conclusions about Muslim women in politics, and felt that she backed her case up well with her research. However, this 'fell apart' in the second half of the book where she relied on many common traditions without subjecting them to the same vigorous research process she did those in the earlier part of the book. I respect her conclusion that Islamic law regarding women was unable to reach the ideal the Prophet (sas) would have liked to see in his community, due to the patriarchal society which existed at the time, and that as Muslims we should be striving to achieve that ideal as we have progressed from the ignorance and patriarchy of those times. Unfortunately I found her evidence to be somewhat lacking in authoritativeness, and I hope to find another work which expands upon that point with a proper academic foundation. ... Read more


129. The Road to Mecca
by Muhammad Asad
list price: $17.95
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Asin: 1887752374
Catlog: Book (2001-05-01)
Publisher: Fons Vitae
Sales Rank: 305004
Average Customer Review: 4.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Within the first few paragraphs of this extraordinary and beautifully written autobiography, the reader recognizes s/he is immersed in a timeless spiritual classic.

The grandson of a Central European Orthodox rabbi, Asad yearned for a life without the "carefully contained, artificial defenses which security-minded people love to build up around them," where he could find for himself "an approach to the spiritual order of things." He found his first "quiet gladness" in Taoism, only regretting this "ivory tower" could not be lived in. Against his father's wishes, he left the pursuit of a doctorate in Vienna to take up journalism. His fascinating travels took him to Jerusalem, Arabia, and India, and finally into service at the United Nations. In 1926, Asad embraced Islam. His account of his years in Arabia, his desert adventures, friendship with King Saud, and marriage there is truly gripping.

"Trenchant with adventure magnificently described, and a commentary upon the inner meaning of Arab and Moslem life, helpful to all who would achieve a more accurate understanding of the Arabs and their lands."--Christian Science Monitor ... Read more

Reviews (27)

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Beautiful, Intense
A lifetime ago, a young, ambitious, and well-educated Polish Jew named Leopold Weiss clawed his way upward in the world of central European journalism, to obtain a posting to the Middle East. He had no idea that he was about to begin a journey of epic proportions, one which resulted in his conversion to Islam, the changing of his name to Muhammad Asad, and the complete evolution of his cultural and spiritual identity. Although he ultimately wrote many historical and theoretical works about Islam, this book is his magnus opus; a post-modern journey through the Middle East and through his own heart.

The Road to Mecca is often a strikingly sad book. Asad sees a civilization that was once at the pinnacle of human accomplishment, and by his lifetime has receded to the sidelines. As in two of his other books, he is searching for an Islamic renaissance that does not have to take its cues from the West. He uses the journey as metaphor; everywhere he finds poor and often ignorant people, yet a culture that is still rock-solid and based on the fundamental justice and equality of Islam.

For instance, he loves and admires Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, with whom he became close friends. But he criticizes the king for his willingness to indulge the ignorance of the desert Arabs in their various tribal customs and conflicts. In Cairo, Asad strolls in awe at the world's oldest university and he listens reverentially to Muslim scholars, yet he sighs at the thought that much of Islamic learning has lost its scientific cutting edge, and is now steeped in the repeating of old ritual and formulae.

I have never read a more beautiful and heartfelt work about the meaning of Islam. Asad has a remarkable opportunity as a man whose life straddles a secular western world and a traditional Bedouin world. He sees the most fundamental goodness in people, yet is never afraid to offer critique. Many, many authors in the West have striven to offer polemical or theoretical critiques of modern Islam, which usually boil down to something like, "What's wrong with those Muslims and why can't they be more like us?" Muhammad Asad asks, "Why can't we live closer to the Muslim ideal?"

5-0 out of 5 stars The Road to Mecca: A historical autobiography
The Road to Mecca is not a historical book. Yet, some parts of its mystical archives are very considerable in getting a real picture about Islam and Muslims during the two era; the falling of Islamic khilafah and the beginning of the western Imperialism era.

Muhammad Asad or Asadullah von Weiss (1900-1992) was having close relationship with many leaders, scholars and fighters (mujahidin), including King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, King Faisal, King Abdullah, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Jacob Israël de Haan, Shaykh Mustafa al-Maraghi, Abul A'la al-Maududi, 'Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Sayyid Ahmad, Ash-Shaheed Umar Mukhtar and Agos Salim besides travelling a massive hundred of thousand miles to Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asian states. Hence, his long journey and great experiences wrapping in his own beautiful narrative, are the valuable 'tutorials' to be mastered.

I would like to highlight two most significant chapters. Almost the whole chapter of 'Jihad' consists of Asad's dialogue with Sidi Muhammad az-Zuwayy, Sayyid Ahmad and Umar Mukhtar, illustrating the history of Sanusi Islamic movement. It includes the dilemma of the Sanusi, whether to fight against British in Egypt or not. I concluded the lessons as:
a)The Muslim leader as well as the whole Muslim community must follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah. God help whomever help God. Whereas the utmost priority in the Muslim life should be his ad-din al-Islam.
b)Muslim brotherhood should be developed without any different, Arab, Turkish etc.
c)Without any objection, jihad is a part of Islamic teaching and obligation, in protecting Muslim faith and land.

Another chapter, 'Dajjal' was specifically written about the dajjalic modern life and Zionism, Iran and Reza Shah Pahlavi, and also about his experience in embracing into Islam. Muhammad Asad was all the time against the Zionist and any colonial power toward Muslims' land. "Although of Jewish origin myself," noted him in The Road to Mecca, "I conceived from the outset a strong objection to Zionism...I considered it immoral that immigrants, assisted by a great foreign power..."

I never regret reading it. You too.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Road to Mecca
The Road to Mecca is a travel narrative by Muhammad Asad about his travels and experiences in the Middle East following his conversion to Islam.
I read this book for a college course, and it was the most enjoyable work of the semester. It is enjoyable to read. At points it is relaxing, at points it challenges one to examine one's own convictions.
As far as what Asad's purpose is in writing the book, it can best be described by two passages:

"[Asad has] set out to exchange one world for another - to gain a new world for yourself in exchange for an old one which you never really possessed." (pg 48)

and:

"The meaning of all my wanderings lay in a hidden desire to meet myself by meeting a world whose approach to the innermost questions of life, to reality itself, was different from all I had been accustomed to in my childhood and youth." (pg. 50).

All in all, a great read. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read
I had heard about Muhammad Asad from his articles that he wrote on the vision of Pakistan. I was always intrigued by the clarity with which he wrote his ideas (Pakistan is no where close to how he envisioned it). I wanted to find out more about him. This book provided just that. Its a short summary of his prime years as a young man, how the Arab culture inspired him to study Islam and how his logical/analytical thinking guided him to truth. The way story has been laid out it is very captivating and eye opening from start to end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply incredible
I had The Road to Mecca in my bookcase for more than a year before I finally opened it; and I have never stopped reading and rereading since.

It's not a usual theoretical book on religion; instead it is a travelogue, a journey of a mind, a cultural awareness of a people and a nation, and a rare insight and understanding into faith, psychology, development sociology, and world affairs.

Muhammad Asad starts off with a journey towards Makkah, spiritual home of Muslims, and through the trip we travel back and forth in his mind and through his conversations and communications with people, about his past; his journey from a young Austrian journalist into a Muslim. We move through Arab lands, meet people, explore ways of life and philosophies, understand history, and most of all, gain a rare insight into Islam and what it means. Asad shows us all aspects of life in those lands; through bazaars to palaces, along risky journeys and enthralling adventures, meeting Kings and bandits. His understanding is rare and gifted and the socio-political-religious world has not been explained better elsewhere.

For Muslims and non Muslims alike, it is a must read, capturing but not imposing, exploring and understanding. ... Read more


130. Milestones
by Sayyid Qutb
list price: $12.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1567444946
Catlog: Book (1993-01-01)
Publisher: Kazi Publications
Sales Rank: 499900
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars Extremist ideologue's bankrupt
Qutb's elevation of offensive jihad to and above the five pillars of Islam, his impossible idea of banishing the 'kingdom of man' (even in an Islamic society, people ultimately have to make decisions), and his rabid anti-Semitism make it no wonder that radicals and terrorists found inspiration in his intolerant views. This book is the work of a sad man, wallowing in prison, unable to cope with the modern world, and longing for some golden age of purity which never existed.

4-0 out of 5 stars an American take on this controversial book
Milestones has received more attention in the wake of 9.11, as many point to Qutb's works and ideas as the birth of modern Islamist terrorism.

I read this book a year ago, but the general theme is still with me. And with this in mind, I admit confusion. The tone is not nearly as violent as it has been portrayed in some quarters. I'd say Milestones is more revolutionary in thought, rather than violence. For Qutb, Islam is a beautiful thing that has been hijacked from within, and misunderstood from the outside. And in some ways, I can't help but think he's right.

While one can perceive his ideas a certain way that will lead to violent actions, there is still positivity to be taken from this tome. As you read it, you almost get caught up in the idea of a nationless world, where competition and hierarchy gives way to true brotherhood. Unfortunately, that brotherhood for Qutb comes from Islam. The underlying force of most religions seems to be to conquer the world, and this is a problem.

Yet, Qutb strikes me as one who had more love than hate in his heart. Milestones captures this. While I may disagree with his take on his religion, or Islam in general, I can understand his feeling that Islam has become something of a tool to be used against mankind. And while the tone can be abrasive at times, I don't think this is a manifesto for terrorists, as Qutb is as concerned with spreading knowledge as he is with picking up a sword.

In today's world, Milestones is an important document to understanding the essence of Islam. True devotees of this religion live in a world that us Westerners can't fully relate to. And I don't mean geographically so much as I mean culturally. We are so used to heirarchy and competition. We are used to bosses and leaders and kings and queens and bishops and popes and generals that is almost impossible to imagine a world where we are all indeed truly equal before the eyes of a god in the sky. Even for those who are not "religious," much can be gleamed from those whose path has included faith in religion. While Qutb's vision is ultimately unrealistic and perhaps a bit dangerous, it is nonetheless fascinating and potentially inspiring in a way that you wouldn't think of.

4-0 out of 5 stars Correction to previous review
Actually, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was Hassan al-Banna, in 1928. Sayyid Qutb was one of the Brotherhood's most widely known thinkers in the 50's and 60's, but he was not the founder.

1-0 out of 5 stars pity for him, not respect
The sad tragedy of Qutb's works is that he sets the
groundwork for turning islam back on itself. His
ideas set muslims fighting against each other in a
war that will never end. Brother will turn on brother
when muslims start questioning the belief of other
muslims. No state, law or culture will ever be islamic
enough to prevent war after war being fought by muharib
against fellow moslems.

5-0 out of 5 stars Milestones
Sayyid Qutb is easily one of the major architects and "strategists" of contemporary Islamic revival. Along with Maulana Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, the revivalist movement in South Asia, and Imam Khomeini, the leader of Iran's Islamic revolution, he gave shape to the ideas and the worldview that has mobilized and motivated millions of Muslims from Malaysia to Michigan to strive to reintroduce Islamic practices in their lives and alter social and political institutions so that they reflect Islamic principles. Milestones was written to educate and motivate the potential vanguard of the re-Islamization movement.

Qutb, like most contemporary mujaddids, Islamic revivalists, was distressed with the growing distance between Islamic values, institutions and practices and the emerging postcolonial Muslim societies, specially in his native Egypt. In Milestones, he sought to answer some of the fundamental questions such as why Islam needs to be revived? why no other way of life is adequate? What is the true essence of an Islamic identity and an Islamic existence (he uses the term "concept" to signify these two elements)? How was Islam established by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions? Can the same method, which was undoubtedly divine in its conception be replicated again? Qutb is particularly concerned with this issue of "Islamic methodology". He believes that Islamic values and the manner in which they are to be realized (read as were realized by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his glorious companions) both together constitute the faith of Islam.

Relying entirely on the Quran, Qutb uses the concepts of jahiliyya, Islamic concept, Islamic methodology, jihad and Allah's sovereignty, to dilineate the strategy by which Muslims would:

1. realize the true significance and implications of La-ilaha-illallah, having faith in the exclusive unity of Allah (tawhid).

2. understand the imperfections, injustices and moral poverty of jahiliyya.

3. empower themselves by realising the meaning of ashhadu-anna-muhammadur-rasoolullah (bearing witness that Muhammad is Allah's messenger) -- internalizing his method of dawah and submitting to the will and laws of Allah.

4. through this Islamic methodology, as articulated in the Quran and manifested in the practices of Prophet Muhammad, which does not separate theory from practice, and discourse from action, establish an Islamic order. The Islamic order, which is Allah's most significant gift to the entire humanity.

5. The most remarkable aspect of Qutb's book is his insistance on an approach in "stages" and the repeated assertion that the need for implementing Islamic law would not arise until every member of the community had completely submitted to the sovereignty of Allah and by that agreed to live under Allah's laws. Laws would then be framed merely to serve the needs of this "living community of Islam". A far cry from the perception that a handful of Islamists are out to impose an essentialized shariah on all Muslims and non-Muslims living in Muslim lands.

Jahiliyya, as used in the traditional Islamic sense suggests ignorence in the ways of God. However, Qutb gives an interesting twist to the idea of jahiliyya. Jahiliyya for Qutb is the sovereignty of man over man. Socio-political orders where men have power over other men, to institute legislation and determine principles of right and wrong conduct. The Quran is explicit in postulating Islam as the antithesis of jahiliyya. Qutb, by redefining jahiliyya to encompass modern secular systems of political organization, is basically decreeing that all existing systems are unacceptable and even antithetical to the spirit of Islam. Thus the dichotomy, Islam and jahiliyya includes both the Islamic and the anthropocentric way of doing things, and Islamic regimes and the existing unIslamic regimes in Muslim lands. A clever ploy that uses Islamic reasoning to indirectly condemn contemporary political organizations as antithetical to Islam.

His notion of the sovereignty of Allah as opposed to the sovereignty of man is basically a restating of the meaning of Islamic faith -- submission to the will of God. It clearly suggests, that any principle of organization that is not premised on God's supreme and sole prerogative as a legislative source, is shirk. Shirk, in Islam is the only unforgivable sin. It means to associate other Gods with Allah thereby denying the fundamental article of faith, lailaha illalah, there is no deity but Allah. He also uses it to declare the "universal declaration of the freedom of man on earth from a every authority except Allah" (p. 48). I have already discussed his idea of the Islamic concept which basically emphasizes the inseparability of knowledge and practice. It is an important insight which means that one cannot really understand Islam fully unless one is also practicing it. Islamic methodology is his interpretation of how Prophet Muhammad realized the Islamic ideal. He believes that any other way of approaching Islamization is destined to fail.

His understanding of the obligation of jihad -- struggle in the path of Allah -- is also a significant departure from traditional understanding. He understands jihad as taking many different forms depending upon the stage of development of the Muslim community. Thus at the earliest stage it implies struggling to assert the principle of tawhid against all odds. Further along the journey of Islamization it means defending the communities right to "freely practice Islamic beliefs" even if it entails the use of arms. He challenges the "defensive" constitution of the duty of jihad and argues that jihad is a mandatory proactive activity that seeks to establish Allah's sovereignty on earth. He is however careful to emphasize that it does not necessarily mean the use of violence, it includes preaching use of service and wealth in the way of Allah. He is also careful to remind his readers that there is no compulsion in Islam. But if someone has chosen to live by it then no one has the right to prevent him from doing so. Jihad, for Qutb is both, the defense of the right to believe and live by Islam and also the struggle to establish Allah's sovereignty. Qutb, true to his preachings died for the values he espoused. He was sentenced to death and hanged by a military court established by Nasser. I think, and Qutb would agree, writing Milestones was his jihad against the jahiliyya that he saw all around him. ... Read more


131. Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics
by Robert Spencer, Daniel Ali
list price: $11.99
our price: $10.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0965922855
Catlog: Book (2003-09-01)
Publisher: Ascension Press
Sales Rank: 128413
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Islam. For some, the word is frightening; for others, mysterious. For all, it is a religious force that cannot be ignored. Now here’s a question-and-answer book on Islam written specifically for Catholics. Inside Islam addresses Islam’s controversial teachings on God, jihad, the role of women, and more. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Islam: 100 Brief Basics
In this paperback Robert Spencer and Daniel Ali (an ex-Muslim) present brief basics about Islam: the Five Pillars, the Six Articles of Faith, why Muhammad turned against the Jews and Christians, why Muslims believe Jesus is a muslim, why Muslims believe Jesus was NOT crucified but that a substitute instead took his place, contradictions of alcohol use, why Muslims believe the Jews fictionalized the Bible, why Allah is not the same God of Christians, how Muslims view predestiny versus "free will," where Allah in the Quran permits slavery, the different types of jihad, the virgins("houris") who await suicide martyers, why Mohammad said Jews and Christians cannot live in Arabia, status of women and their veils, what Muslims can expect in Islam's heaven or "Paradise," where the anti-Semitic texts are in the Quran, contradictions of similar passages within the Quran -- along with other snippets of differences between Islam and Christianity. The citations are informative endnotes. Fundamentalist Muslims won't like this book because the authors quote specific "ayat" or versus in the Quran, and analyze them in their historical context. This paperback makes for a nice informative "theology background" introduction before reading Robert Spencer's two other books on Islam: "Islam Unveiled" and "Onward Muslim Soldiers." One does not need to be a Catholic to comprehend the topics discussed in this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer on Islam and the Church
Spencer and Ali have assembled an informative, well-written and easily accessible guide to understanding how Islam compares to Catholicism.

Organized in a question-and-answer format, the text is broken into digestible sections that allow readers to read or re-read areas of particular interest.

It is the only guide of its kind to be released in decades and deserves a wide readership.

Discerning readers should ignore the smear campaign being conducted by Islamic apologists against this book.

1-0 out of 5 stars You can't rewrite history
Where do we start. Anyone can write a book and defame Islam. But when you try to re-interpret history to suit your agenda, the lies tend to become obvious and cast doubt on the entire book. For example, the author would like you to believe that a reason for the crusades was "to free those Christians living under Islamic oppression" (p 119). Really ? Please go back and read some history books and find out for yourself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening -- a profoundly important book
After Sept. 11, Robert Spencer's book, "Islam Unveiled," became very popular. As a Catholic, I was hesitant to read a book that I feared would take Koranic passages out of context and then present them as proof of Islam's falsity (precisely because this is what many people do to Christianity). A friend lent me this book, however, and assured me that it wasn't agenda-driven or unreasonable. I noticed that the co-author, Daniel Ali, is a former Muslim, so I decided to give it a shot and I'm so glad that I did. (I learned more about Islam from this book than I did from my religious studies class!)

Given Islam's rising popularity and rapid expansion into Western society, we cannot afford to ignore Islam's claim to be God's final revelation. Despite our best intentions of tolerance among all religions, we cannot be closed-minded to the possibility that a religion might proclaim untruth -- or even injustice. "Inside Islam," which contrasts Islam's claims with those of Christianity, is a must-read for all Christians, and Catholics in particular.

Utilizing a highly readable question-and-answer format, the authors draw from a huge base of knowledge of Islamic theology, scholarship and tradition to demonstrate that Islam cannot be what it claims to be. Extensive endnotes provide the reader with the opportunity to cross-examine sources.

You will read how Mohammad's exposure to Christian heresies distorted his view of Christianity and how these misinterpretations have been incorporated into the Koran -- and how they still inform Muslim views of Christians as idolators to this day. (Mohammad, for example, apparently thought that the Trinity was a union of God, Mary, and Jesus -- and that God had sexual relations with Mary in order to conceive a son. Mohammad understandably saw this crude idea as unworthy of a perfect God.)

You will read how fundamentalist Muslims can appeal to the Koran and the Hadith to support their ideas about the inferiority of women, the inferiority of Christians and Jews (who are called "apes and swine" in the Koran), and the imperative to fight unbelievers.

You will learn how the conceptions of God, humanity, salvation, and the afterlife radically differ in Islam and Christianity. (I thought these theological contrasts were alone worth the entire price of the book!) You will read about the Koran's curious "abrogation theory" which attempts to reconcile contradictions in the Koran by insisting that Allah can change his mind about morality and truth.

"Inside Islam" is a profoundly important book. I would recommend it to Catholics, Christians, and even Muslims. To avoid it, assuming that Islam is a "religion of peace" since it is a religion at all, would be myopic. This book's only agenda is the pursuit of truth. Give it a shot -- you'll be surprised by what you find.

1-0 out of 5 stars Wow. This is such a monumental work.
It is interesting that anyone could possibly even to purport to know how 1 billion muslims around the globe think and feel. Especially with respect to Catholics.

Two excerpts from the introduction:

"...Islam itself is an incomplete, misleading, and downright often false revelation which, in many ways, directly contradicts what God has revealed through the prophets of the Old Testament and through His Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh."

"In most of the answers, the authors have provided the reader with an explanation of Catholic teaching on the topic at hand, so as to illustrate more clearly the deficiencies of many Islamic beliefs and at the same time to help you more fully grasp your Catholic faith."

This book chooses to treat Islam as something completely different from Christianity. Religions are religions, as people are people, and they are all filled with the sainted and the insane, neither of which might be apt to care for said pillars of a religion.

As a cultural Muslim, married to a Catholic, which might describe my wifes beliefs and attitudes, but then again maybe she is a human being and therefore not simply guided by the prescript of a book and its assumed ideals, I find this book as thoroughly insane an attempt to get into the mind of the Muslim as that bilge contained within Patai's, "The Arab Mind."

I love books when they tell me how to think of others, then way I can just turn off my brain and absorb. ... Read more


132. Islamic Patterns: An Analytical and Cosmological Approach
by Keith Critchlow
list price: $29.95
our price: $18.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0892818034
Catlog: Book (1999-09-01)
Publisher: Inner Traditions International
Sales Rank: 136001
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars More than just a collection of cute patterns
This book is a must for artists, mathematicians, philosophers and anyone else interested in the foundations and rationale of Islamic art.

This book provides a comprehensive insight into Islamic Patterns in a clear and concise way. I have used this book on a number of occasions when I have needed inspiration for drawings, paintings and even for works of management strategy - curiously enough. It has a wonderful way of both focusing and relaxing the mind that seems to encourage channeled creativity.

regards,

martyn_jones@iniciativas.com ... Read more


133. Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs: A Treasury of Islamic Wisdom for Children and Parents (Little Light of Mine Series)
by Sarah Conover, Freda Crane, Valerie Wahl
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0910055947
Catlog: Book (2004-06-30)
Publisher: Eastern Washington University Press
Sales Rank: 78062
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Book Description

Beautiful Signs / Ayat Jamilah draws from not only the core of Islamic spirituality and ethics--the Qur'an and the traditions (hadiths)--but also from the mystical verse, folk tales, and exemplary figures of the Islamic narrative. Unlike any other collection of Islamic stories, Beautiful Signs gathers traditional stories from the farthest reaches of the Muslim world, stretching from Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east, and from China in the north to Tanzania in the south.

This unique anthology, with its rich and thorough explanatory notes, will be invaluable to anyone wishing to understand or teach geography, world history, or world religions. It will also be treasured by Muslim families and by all parents committed to broadening the lives and values of their children and themselves. ... Read more


134. The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Convergences: Inventories of the Present)
by Tarif Khalidi
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674011155
Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 231062
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This work presents in English translation the largest collection ever assembled of the sayings and stories of Jesus in Arabic Islamic literature. In doing so, it traces a tradition of love and reverence for Jesus that has characterized Islamic thought for more than a thousand years. An invaluable resource for the history of religions, the collection documents how one culture, that of Islam, assimilated the towering religious figure of another, that of Christianity. As such, it is a work of great significance for the understanding of both, and of profound implications for modern-day intersectarian relations and ecumenical dialogue.

Tarif Khalidi's introduction and commentaries place the sayings and stories in their historical context, showing how and why this "gospel" arose and the function it served within Muslim devotion. The Jesus that emerges here is a compelling figure of deep and life-giving spirituality. The sayings and stories, some 300 in number and arranged in chronological order, show us how the image of this Jesus evolved throughout a millennium of Islamic history. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Perfect gift for Muslim/Christian families
This book has soothed alot of nerves in our mixed household...you know the relatives that just have no idea how a Catholic and a Muslim can share life without conflict of religion. Everybody has questions, and this book is lovely for helping inform people who don't know our similarities, just the differences.

5-0 out of 5 stars How much Islam has in common with Christianity
As an Arab Christian who have lived in an Islamic environment, I have always known that Muslims cherished and respected Jesus as one of their prophets, but little did I know about the actual sayings they ascribe to him. I was therefore intrigued by the topic of this book: what do Muslims really think about Jesus, and how does their conception differ from ours? I found this book to contain excellent answers to satisfy my curiosity and arouse further interest in the subject.

This book is the first collection in English of all the sayings in early Islamic literature (Hadith) attributed to Jesus. Thus they are the authoritative guide to what Islam knows and thinks about Jesus. The rendering into English is excellent and easily readable, and the author's commentary on each saying is a useful addition. I decided to read the introduction before the sayings, and was thankful for doing so (despite its length), as the introduction adds a wealth of background material about the origin of the sayings, their relationship to Christianity, and their evolution within the early Islamic context. The scholarship of the author is impeccable, and the work is a superb example of how unbiased objective scholarship should be, as the author takes no sides, except that of deep curiosity to find out the truth.

While reflecting the certain theological differences between the Islamic Jesus and the Christian Jesus, these sayings are evidence for a surprising similarity in attitude and values between the two religions. No doubt some of these sayings are influenced by translations of the gospels and apocryphal texts into Arabic and by the large Arab Christian community during that period. However, much of the wisdom therein is of a universal nature that transcends religious divisions and reflects a common human denominator.

Another feature of this book is its insights about the early Islamic period. Although I have read many books about Islam, most of them portray the religion as a stagnant system that was revealed at a single time to the Prophet Mohammad. Instead, this book demonstrates how Islam evolved dynamically over its first few centuries, much like how early Christianity was an evolving religion. Thus we see how various factions of Islam competed and had their own concepts of what the religion should be, and 'used' lore from prophetic figures such as Jesus to strengthen their arguments. This whole concept of an evolving religion throws great doubts upon the ideals of modern-day "fundamentalists" who apparently wish to recreate "early Islam". By exposing the myriad differences between Muslims themselves, and the closeness of some important Islamic elements to Christianity, "The Muslim Jesus" also throws a lot of doubt on some Westerners today who somehow feel threatened by Islam and lump all Muslims together as "enemies of Christianity".

For all these reasons, I strongly recommend The Muslim Jesus for a highly enjoyable, and thought-provoking read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Derivative Drivel
This book is typical of Islamist apologetics; pure ...... The contents of this book are mere revisionist scripture and spin on writings long considered heretical by orthodox Christian leaders and disciples. It is just another clever ruse by apologetics of Islam to try and "[take]" the legacy of Judeo-Christian history and beliefs in order to make their claims to legitimacy seem palpable and pragmatic. If you are familiar with this ruse, this book is nothing new.

It certainly is interesting to read; especially if you already know the true purpose for books such as these. I should know. I was born a Muslim and lived as one in Syria for 40 years. I was once one of the individuals who used such materials as these to convert non-Muslims. I have not been a Muslim for twenty years now, but I know Islamic propagandist tools for proselytizing when I see it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Islamist Propaganda
This book is typical of Islamist apologetics. The contents of this book are mere revisionist scripture and spin on writings long considered heretical by orthodox Christian leaders and disciples. It is just another clever ruse by apologetics of Islam to try and "steal" the legacy of Judeo-Christian history and beliefs in order to make their claims to legitimacy seem palpable and pragmatic. If you are familiar with this ruse, this book is nothing new.

It certainly is interesting to read; especially if you already know the true purpose for books such as these. I should know. I was born a Muslim and lived as one in Syria for 40 years. I was once one of the individuals who used such materials as these to convert non-Muslims. I have not been a Muslim for twenty years now, but I know Islamic propagandist tools for proselytizing when I see it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating...
This is a wonderful book. If you truly wish to understand the Islamic view of Jesus, this book is a must. Through its pages are many stories and sayings of Jesus, some instantly recognizable, others less so.

Rather than studying 'dry' comparative religious texts discussing 'Islam vs. Christianity/Jesus' (which are foundationally necessary), try reading this book as an alternative. Not only will you come to understand how Jesus is viewed in Islam but you will also get a sense of the 'spirit' of Islam.

The introduction presents the major themes in any discussion on this topic and raises many questions, yet leaves them open ended. Yet the answers make their way through the pages of the rest of the book. This book will enlighten you to the fact that in the earliest days of Islam, the bitter and often violent antagonism that seems so apparent these days was not always so and in that sense perhaps hope will spring eternal from these pages. ... Read more


135. A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period
list price: $50.00
our price: $50.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521337674
Catlog: Book (1987-08-20)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 494793
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Book Description

Building on the two previous editions of his History of the Maghrib, Professor Abun-Nasr has written a completely new history of North Africa within the Islamic period which begins with the Arab conquest and brings the story up to the present day. He emphasises the factors which led to the adoption of Islam by practically the entire population, the geographical position of the area, which made it the main trade link between the Mediterranean world and the Sudan and led to its involvement in the confrontation between the Christian and Islamic worlds. In Morocco, this confrontation led to the emergence of a distinct religio-political community ruled by sharifian dynasties and, in the rest of the Maghrib, to integration in the Ottoman empire. The political and economic developments of the 'piratical' regencies of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the establishment of European colonial rule, the nationalist movements and Islamic religious reform are all treated in detail. The balance between factual account and interpretation makes the book especially useful to students of African and Islamic history. ... Read more


136. Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism
by Omid Safi
list price: $25.95
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Asin: 185168316X
Catlog: Book (2003-03)
Publisher: Oneworld Publications Ltd
Sales Rank: 62124
Average Customer Review: 4.22 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Developed in response to current debates on Islam, this collection of fifteen essays from leading Muslim scholars offers a frank and compelling insight into the contemporary Muslim tradition, confronting such crucial issues as pluralism, race, sexuality, and gender. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars must read for contemporary Muslims
There is so much trash being published about Islam that it is liberating to see a book about how Muslims engage their own tradition with such honesty and openness. I was delighted to see the conversations that engage human rights, gender equality, and democracy so openly and honestly. I would recommend this volume to everyone, especially Muslims who are looking for resources within their own tradition. I would also suggest it to people who want to get a sense of how Muslims are constructively going about dealing with their own challenges. Great book!

2-0 out of 5 stars Not progressive
Unfortunately, Omid Safi does not truly promote Progressive Islam in this book. Following his introduction, 14 independent essays divide into two sections, the first on supposed progressives within contemporary Islam. None is as moderate as one might hope.

The opening essay by Khaled Abou El Fadl remarks that excising Islam's "ugliness" ignores the "beautiful in the vast and rich [Islamic] tradition" (p. 62). This I cannot judge. He then focuses on placing "the primary responsibility for the vast majority of extreme acts of ugliness that are witnessed today in the Islamic world" (p. 43), which he identifies as a supremacist and puritanical orientation. This seems correct and true, so far as it goes.

Alas, El Fadl discredits his analysis by restricting his discussion to limited historical periods and blaming the "ugliness" entirely upon the Salafi'i and Wahhabi groups, whose theology he labels "Salafabism." To the untutored, this may sound reform-minded. Unfortunately, neither El Fadl's coined term, nor factors he claims to isolate, reflect the depth or breadth of the "problem" scholars commonly associate with Islam. A more truthful analysis might admit that a supremacist and puritanical streak pervades much of Islam's 1,400-year history, and certainly all schools of Islamic law, and propose some means of amendment.

In Pakistan, for example, both civil and religious judges impose Islamic law (Shari'a, the only kind of justice available), and generally prohibit non-Muslims from testifying against Muslims. In certain cases, the law itself prohibits non-Muslim testimony. Such thinking is traditional to "tolerant" prescriptions outlined by the medieval Islamic jurist Al-Mawardi (d. 1058) in The Laws of Islamic Governance, which remains a standard of Islamic law today, even among some moderate Muslim thinkers. Perhaps El Fadl would not admit this Shafi'i jurist to his definition of "moderate."

Even disqualifying Shafi'i laws completely, however, would leave El Fadl to contend with the Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which he does not do either. All require Muslims to engage in jihad war to subjugate non-Muslim peoples. For example, Maliki jurist Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996) argues, "Jihad is a precept of Divine institution." Sure, he excuses certain Malikis and proscribes wars before Muslims invite their enemies "to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first." But al-Qayrawani requires formal discrimination against infidels. "They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared against them."

The Hanafi Hidayah (cited in Hughes' 19th century Dictionary of Islam, pp. 244-248), also demands jihad by divine ordinance: "War is permanently established until the day of judgment," necessitating bloody discrimination against non-Muslims. Hanafis recognize war as "murderous and destructive" by nature, enjoined only for "advancing the true faith or repelling evil." But it is only the impossibility of outfitting all Muslim warriors at once that lets "any single tribe or party of Muslims," by engaging in jihad war, render "the obligation ...no longer binding upon the rest." Wahhabis for their part favor Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328). Even a brief review of Islamic law concerning non-Muslims, then, exposes the disingenuously superficial nature of El Fadl's discussion of Islamic "ugliness."

This is worrisome, considering his approval of a U.S. foundation's school curriculum that, in one exercise, asks students to advocate for institution of a blasphemy amendment in the U.S. constitution.

Farid Esack's essay on 9/11 likewise misses the mark. He tries and fails to define and distinguish progressive and liberal Islam from one another. He offers the perfunctory condemnation of the September 11 attacks and criticism of fundamentalism. But strangely, Esack next criticizes acceptance of peace and the status quo. This sounds very like traditional jihad ideology, which is neither liberal nor progressive, however he may define them. A true progressive should rather generate constructive proposals by which Islamic legal foundations could be amended, within accepted Islamic norms, among other things so as to accept non-Muslims as equals. Unfortunately, Esack falls into a blame game, and by refusing to accept any Islamic responsibility whatever again appears decidedly illiberal and unprogressive.

Then there is Safi's assignment of two thirds of this book (its introduction and chapters 1 through 10) to students in his Islam and Modernity course at Colgate (syllabus online). As we see, Safi's book is not progressive, but quite traditional. The course evidently isn't progressive either, for it requires that students write three pages on 24 serious thinkers, scholars and political commentators whom Safi describes as "Islamophobes, or folks whose political views and/or scholarship shape how Islam is presented today." As author Robert Spencer suggests online, it's unclear why a progressive professor would think labeling a group of people conducive to intelligent debate.

But most startling is the suggestion that students scrutinize two men born as Muslims, and a convert known widely to praise Islamic tolerance and democratic traditions, excepting only Wahhabi brand extremism. For anyone familiar with Islam, this appears to be a search for apostasy, a crime for which the Sharia demands death.

It is up to Muslims to determine how they might best reform their faith. But so far as any "ugliness" affects ex- or non-Muslims, the rest of us should certainly not accept a "progressive" label for views that appear decidedly reactionary. From that standpoint, nope, this book is not progressive.

--Alyssa A. Lappen

5-0 out of 5 stars Road map to a new discourse on Islam?
During recent years Islam has been put increasingly on the defensive. In response to the flurry of sensationalist publications many Muslims have felt a need to take their recourse to apologetic counter reactions. Not the people involved in the Progressive Muslims Project, who are behind this collection of essays. Instead they have chosen for an assertive stance. But from that position they express some very surprising viewpoints.
In the future the present publication is going to be recognized as one of the watershed books on Islam written in the early post-9/11 period, and is bound to become a core reference for the new direction in which independently-minded Muslims will steer the debate on what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century. All contributors to this volume are Muslim scholars of religion with solid academic credentials and respectable track records as publicists, whose roots lie in the United States, Iran, Kuwayt, Pakistan, Malaysia, and South Africa.
Some of the essays are highly personal reflections on Muslim identity, including two courageous pieces on highly contentious issues concerning gender and sexuality. This review, however, focuses on a few contributions that will certainly reset the boundary marks of discourse on Islam; not only for academic research but also for the more activist engagement with the Muslim legacy.
The tone for these pioneering efforts is set in the introduction by the volume's editor, Dr. Omid Safi, who deserves credit for being one of the driving forces behind the Progressive Muslims Project. His essay "The Times They are A-Changing" can be read as a blueprint for a new, more assertive, approach to the debate on things Islamic in the contemporary world. Who would have thought quotes from the Holy Quran and Bob Dylan lyrics would ever feature together in the heading of a scholarly work?
Safi starts with what he calls a 'multiple critique', in which he underscores the need for univocal commitment to a universal notion of justice, based on the explicit recognition that all mankind shares in a common humanity deserving unreserved respect. This is definitely a progressive stand, but at the same time Omid Safi warns against the overeasy equation of progress with modernity: proponents of the latter are often as arrogant as the authoritarian Muslim 'literalists-exclusivists' and their views should not be uncritically embraced. Instead the author calls for genuine engagement with Muslim tradition, whereby pluralism, social justice, and gender equality shall serve as benchmarks.
The introduction contains a number of statements heralding this innovative approach: progressive Muslims are not to be automatically labeled as 'liberal Muslims'-- many of whom are too enamored with modernity; the new discourse should be less normative and theological, and more people-centered, "chronicling the spectrum of Muslim practices and interpretations" with a sense for historical context. More provocative is his call to move beyond mere tolerance of fellow man and toward actively engaging the other on what makes us all human. The same applies to his observation that the phrase 'Islam is a religion of peace' has become hollow, if it means the mere absence of war instead of the more positive struggle for justice. This is one of the clearest rejections of the "minimal ethics" that characterizes liberal ideology.
Many of these elements are further elaborated by Farid Esack, a prominent South-African Muslim scholar and activist, in an essay that takes the document "Progressive Islam - A Definition and Declaration" as its point of departure. Esack is very critical of the views expressed by many liberal Muslims, whom he accuses of suffering from the same myopia as their fundamentalist adversaries: presenting themselves as 'authentic' interpreters of Islam and canonizing certain statements in the sacred scriptures without regard for the context. He is equally dismayed by liberal Muslims' failure to challenge that other form of fundamentalism: that US interests represent the axis around which the earth rotates.
Another outstanding contribution is Khaled Abou El Fadl's "The Ugly Modern and the Modern Ugly: Reclaiming the Beautiful in Islam." This essay is a classic example of what a critical examination of one's own tradition is all about. Because El Fadl takes on the phenomenon of 'supremacist puritanism' taking hold of a religion. He observes that "when it comes to the issue of self-critical appraisals, Muslim discourses [..] remain captive to the post-colonial experience. These discourses are politicized and polarized to the extent that the Muslim intellectual who takes a critical approach to the Islamic tradition often feels that he is stepping into a minefield." Nowhere is that better exemplified than by the extraordinary dominance of the stern interpretations made by Wahhabism. Originating with the Central-Arabian 'evangelist' Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792) it became the state ideology of the Al Saud dynasty, which has dominated politics on the Arabian Peninsula since the 1750s and started to actively export this doctrine beyond their kingdom in the late 20th century. This only became possible due to a unique convergence of social-political trends and money, which is lucidly explained by Abou el Fadl and illustrated with ample historical data.
Another important intellectual genealogy is provided by Ebrahim Moosa, an eminent scholar from Duke University, in his essay on a 'Critical Islam.' For this he draws on the work of literary figures like the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk and philosophers such as Muhammad Iqbal. But he also refers to the text-critical approaches of Islamic studies by Muhammad Arkoun and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, and his own fellow-authors, Farid Esack and Khaled Abou El Fadl.
Before closing, the essay by Amin Wadud on "American Muslim Identity" deserves also to be mentioned explicitly. For a non-American and non-Muslim like myself, Wadud draws a most revealing portrait of the complexity of Islam in the United States, where it is not only tied up with concepts of religious experience, but closely entwined with notions of race and ethnicity.
Omid Safi and his colleagues have done a great service to the field of religious studies with what will hopefully become a visionary book on 21st-century Islam.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very broad, diverse group of authors...
I was quite pleased reading this collection of essays. And contrary to the editorial reveiw I liked that Safi qouted so many diverse people, it just showed to me that he was open-minded to many different things. I like how this book did not use a singular viewpoint to define what a "progressive muslim" is, rather the editor let many people tell us in their own voices. This diversity and plurality is what is beautiful about religion and the world in general. To many of us forget that and fall into narrow stereotypes of people.This just happens to be the time for muslims to fall into that category. I believe though, if you read this book you will find that the authors might have you questioning some of those seterotypes...

Anyway, to sum up, my favorite essays were written by Amina Wadud (she is always a favorite)on American Muslim Identity, Tazim Kassam on being a scholar in Islam, and Sa'diyya Shaikh on transforming feminism.Once again, excellently done and put together!

1-0 out of 5 stars Lousy, and misleading
When you see a book claiming that there are such people as progressive Muslims, like this one it accuses the U.S. of "curtailment... of civil liberties such as freedom of inquiry and the expression of dissenting opinions" after September 11, beware. Who's kidding whom?

I was fooled, and I am very sorry. Indeed, this book offers nothing like the claimed prescription for moderation that so many would like to see in Islam.

Now, it's true, the U.S. is expelling people like fake Saudi diplomats, and so-called activists like Amer Jubran, who in reality foment hatred of the U.S. and sedition, but U.S. "curtailment...of civil liberties" post-911 is nothing compared to the perennial lack of civil liberties in places like Pakistan (once secular, now radical), Indonesia (fast-fading into the radical maw), and Malaysia (where the supposed moderate Mahathir recently showed his anti-Western mettle like the good Moslem always does). Let's ask the Christians in Pakistan how pluralistic Islamic law is; generally speaking, they cannot testify in court, because the testimonies of non-Muslims are not allowed under the Sharia. See Patrick Sookhdeo on this score.

The fact is, there is no reformation afoot in Islam, and there is not even a mechanism by which to implement one. What this book does not explain, more's the pity, is that the Sharia has not changed one iota since its inception. Compare the pronouncements of the jurist Al-Mawardi with someone like Abou El Fadl, and you will find, they are pretty much the same. Don't let all the PC psychobabble fool you. It's nonsense.

They both want the universal imposition of Sharia, which by Western standards is not moderate, never was and never will be. Because it cannot be changed. It is immutable, like the Koran. Let's not kid ourselves, please. Try Ibn Warraq's Why I am not a Muslim, or Leaving Islam, for a true look at what Islam has to offer anyone truly progressive and truly moderate. ... Read more


137. A History of Medieval Islam
by J. J. Saunders, J.J. Saunders
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 0415059143
Catlog: Book (1990-12-01)
Publisher: Routledge
Sales Rank: 565836
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is an introduction to the history of the Muslim East from the rise of Islam to the Mongol conquests. It explains and indicates the main trends of Islamic historical evolution during the Middle Ages, and will help the non-Orientalist to understand something of the relationship between Islam and Christendom in those centuries. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice introduction
Saunders has put together a nice introduction to the early history of the Islamic world. At two hundred pages it is longer than most authors of long works dedicate to this period, but still short enough so as not to overwhelm the reader with unfamiliar people and places. The best feature of Saunders treatment of this period is the manner in which he easily cuts through all the confusion of the many movements, particularly the various Shiite movements, to find the simplest way to explain them (and their importance). Saunders also raises the interesting point that the Arabs became the inheritors of Hellenism via Rome and Persia, although he does not examine this in much detail. Written in clear language, brief, concise, and efficient, this is a nice introduction to early Islamic society.

1-0 out of 5 stars Racist!
While reading this I was shocked at the utter disregard Saunders had for Arabs. I doubt he could have gotten away with a statement like this had it been about the Germans, for example: "...the Nabateans and the Palmyrenes showed that communities of Arab stock were capable of attaining a high degree of civilization under the stimulus of contact with advanced peoples" (9).

5-0 out of 5 stars Islamic empires from Muhammad to the 14th century
Saunders' "Medieval Islam" is good old-fashioned scholarship at its best. The author's pithy, 1960s British style is something more historians should imitate today. And while oriented toward the general reader, "Medieval Islam" is still sound scholarship.

Saunders takes us from pagan Arabia in the years just before the birth of Islam right through to the Fourth Crusade and the 14th century. It's a shame he writes overwhelmingly about Muslim politics, since he writes so well. I would like to have read more about Muslim intellectual life and everyday conditions among Muslims (city life, women's experiences, books) as well as the periphery of the Muslim world (How did Islam move into Indonesia? The Sahara?). Stick to A.J. Arberry if you're researching Muslim literature and Alfred Hourani if you're doing social history.

Nevertheless, Saunders clarifies what for me, at least, is a very baffling political mêlée. The rise of Muhammad, the Abassid and Umayyad caliphates, Spain in the West, the Mongols in the East -- all are explained lucidly. Not as concise as Alfred Guillaume's "Islam," but more thorough. Recommended. 5 stars. ... Read more


138. Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars (Perennial Philosophy Series)
by JOSEPH E. B. LUMBARD, Seyyed Hossein Nasr
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.97
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Asin: 0941532607
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: World Wisdom Books
Sales Rank: 204357
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition is the first book to account for the religious, historical and political dimensions of Islamic fundamentalism in a single volume. It provides analyses based upon spiritual principles, rather than conjecture based on political prejudices. This book provides the context necessary for a deeper understanding of important issues pertaining to Islam and the contemporary Middle East. It accomplishes this by explaining the traditional Islamic perspective in a contemporary language. Some essays analyze the historical background of Islamic militancy, demonstrating how the scriptures and teachings of Islam condemn religious fanaticism and gratuitous aggression. Others examine the conditions that allowed for the rise of such an aberration, while yet others address the divide between East and West, bringing into relief the pressures of modernization and globalization which have produced an internal confusion which fans the flames of religious extremism.

Written as a collaborative effort by a group of young Muslim scholars, this volume questions much of the prevailing "wisdom" regarding extremist interpretations of Islam. Contributors include Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Foreword), David Dakake, Reza Shah-Kazemi, Fuad Naeem, Waleed El-Ansary, Ibrahim Kalin, Ejaz Akram, and T.J. Winter. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars An assessment of the conflict between Islam and the West

This book, Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition, examines the foundations of the Muslim faith and the historic conflict between Islam and the West, which can be traced clear to the Crusades and beyond. The book is composed of several essays by young Muslim scholars who understand and were brought up in the Western world, and are probably best qualified to speak to the subject.

The editor, Joseph Lumbard, founder of the Islamic Research Institute and himself a Muslim is currently Chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Cairo. He is a specialist in Sufiism, which is the respected mystical branch of Islam.

These essays present contextual analyses of of the spiritual aspects of Islam, and provide the spiritual bases for its political dimensions, and, introspectively, examine some fallacies which have led to political errors and erroneous beliefs. Using the Qu'ran as the authority, errors on both the side of Islamic and Western cultures are examined.

This appears to be a learned book, examining many misconceptions about Islam by Westerners dating back to the Crusades, as well as misinterpretations on the part of many Muslims, especially when it comes to Jihads, terrorism and hatred of the West.

Westerners these days, accustomed to television images of screaming crowds of young Muslim men, women and even children, waving AK-47s in the air and frequently firing same, and howling hate while waving bloody, burning American flags sometimes while dragging the bodies of Americans through the street, may perhaps be forgiven for a less than charitable view if Islam. Especially considering the many past acts of violence taken against innocent Westerners, including recent beheadings, torture and rapine of kidnap victims.

The Arabic world has shown a hatred for the Jewish community in Israel almost unparalleled in history, especially since the Jewish people returned to their ancient homeland after the horrors of the Second World War and carved out a nation, and in the process displacing some Arabic peoples who considered the land theirs.

But probably every square yard of habitable land on earth has a history of multiple owners, from whom it has been taken at one time or another, often by force. That, and religious differences, are probably the two greatest causes of conflict between human beings.

Virtually all religions, to people who believe otherwise, can be shown to look ridiculous in their core beliefs--none, perhaps, any more ridiculous than any other on their face.

Differences are visceral, often violent, and seem insurmountable. It will be the rare human being, indeed, who will tolerate the infidel spitting on his belief system and holy places.

For the person who wishes to learn about the Muslim's true belief system, this may be a valuable book. For the average American, brought up in their own faith, the book's usefulness may be dubious, since curiousity about the beliefs of those who have sworn to kill you is less important than useful methods of defense against their acts of terrorism, and sorting out those who mean you no harm as opposed to those who hate you. All else may fall into the realm of the academic. The niceties of doctrinal differences between Shiites and Sunnis, etc., are easily lost when you are busily dodging bullets from both sides, and especially when the differences are in interpretations of a book in which you do not believe in the first place.

This is a scholarly book, coming at a time when the world is on fire and the combatants care very little about the subject matter anymore, or for that matter about the scholars who are writing on the subject.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre, USN (Ret)

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Suspicious of Islamophobia¿then read differently!
In the climate of the current widely orchestrated Islamophobic assessment, this book is a powerfully fresh set of articles to bring to bear against those who are ignorant of Islam's true existence. Throughout the chapters I was confronted/reassured with numerous arresting counter-facts. In the article The Myth of Militant Islam I found out that the Quranic advice "Slay them wheresoever you find them" is located within the very same sentence as "and turn them out wherever they have turned you out," interpreted by the vast majority of historic and current Islamic scholars to refer not to Christians and Jews of the Book but specifically to those polytheist Meccans who cruelly harried the first few adherents to the message of Muhammad. Several other commonly bantered-about Quranic phrases are shown in their true and respectful light. In the article The Decline of Knowledge and the Rise of Ideology in the Modern Islamic World the editor masterfully emphasizes the great degree of effort which traditional Islam gave in wedding knowledge to religious doctrine and action. Historically and even currently, Muslim sufi circles waxed and waned in popularity and influence within the Islamic world. This historic knowledge-spirituality synthesis has faded somewhat, to be replaced by various accretions of discarded Western ideologies reconstituted by liberalizing Muslim modernists and doctrinaire (stringent) Muslim reformists in the form of pseudo-Islamic theological and philosophical writings. Thus, what began as the anti-religious Renaissance and Enlightenment attack against Christianity's religious and intellectual synthesis has been partially ingested into Muslim writings. Stringent reformist Muslims, in a confused reaction to being confrontated with Western science and secularism, now struggle side by side with the Muslim modernists as they move toward some future undescribed goal, both paradoxically unaware of their accord in accepting the secular Western scientific paradigm that eventually runs counter to the body of religious ethics and laws which they as Muslims yet try to preserve. In the article A Traditional Islamic Response to the Rise of Modernism one is alerted to the figure of Maulana Thanvi, an Indian Sufi born in 1863, who chastised certain modernist Islamic thinkers by using an Islamic set of spiritually intellectual arguments to expose the erroneous assumptions of invading Enlightenment ideologies such as naturalism, rationalism, empiricism and scientism. In contrast to the Christian West's willful divorce of knowledge from religion and the subsequent kowtowing to modernism, there exists in today's Islam a surprising amount of intellectual integration within the religious universe, drawing upon the vast store of Islamically integrated thought and wisdom. In the article Recollecting the Spirit of Jihad the true and long understood meaning of this term, maliciously abused now by several sides, is nobly resurrected to its deeply sacred and enviable conceptualization. Historic and recent examples of tolerant Muslim warriors in Spain, Algeria, Dagestan and Afghanistan involving inter- and intra-religious dimensions are recounted, making it apt be speak of a Christian chivalry mirrored in the Islamic world. The article The Muslim World and Globalization: Modernity and the Roots of Conflict alerts one to the catastrophic misjudgment by today's most popular policy-making circles in presuming that Islamic people are supposed to simply throw garlands of flowers around forced "instant democratization," which ends up being a cover for, and heavily dependent upon, capitalistic economies of historically problematic performance. This most broad-scoped article excoriates globalization, spells out the inherent ethical conflicts between modern and traditional Islamic economic systems, and makes dubious the claim that Western-style democracy will make Islamic life better, noting that traditional and current Islamic societal structures already exemplify respectable democratic-like characteristics and universal ethical norms.

In these articles, the realization unfolds that the presence of that body of the Muslim population who are neither "fundamentalist" nor moderate/modernist is in actuality the vast majority, and they are properly called traditional orthodox mainstream Muslims. This category is holistic: it excludes intellectually repulsed "fundamentalists" and religiously-embarrased moderates. What is simply not true is the simpleton claim made on this week's Sunday morning TV weekend roundup that 95% of all Muslims are "moderate traditional Muslims...."

In short, I came to this collection of articles as a life-long American Muslim witness to the besmirchment of Islam that is currently being attempted. Like-minded and otherwise interested readers will find a repletion of alternative arguments, in several topics of interest, to bring to bear against the current spectacle of slanted and uninformed print and electronic media. The picture of past and present portrayed by this book certainly paints a more substantial and hopeful base from which to redirect the current Islamic debates. Bravo!

4-0 out of 5 stars Different from the usual fare, with rare insights into Islam
There are many books today which deal with the so-called crisis in the Islamic world, from Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong?" which takes a narrow and often absurdly one-sided view to the West-Islam problem, to books by Muslims trying to explain away their real shortcomings by blaming everyone but themselves. This book does neither. To my knowledge the perspective that both sides should be embracing a more deep-rooted and traditional practice and understanding of Islam has only appeared in perhaps a few articles in the Western press and in one or two recent books. The rest of the literature out there seems to be caught between either a complete dilution of Islam in favor of modernity or a mindless rejection of all things Western in favor of a cult of zealous legalism.

I reccommend this book for two reasons. First, it starts from a point of view of pragmatism that is refreshing in such an emotional time. A prime example is Ansary's article analyzing Bin Laden's strategy using game theory, which is original and extremely persuasive. Second, it takes into account the vast ocean of Islamic civilization and the intellectual and spiritual history to which it gave rise. Both sides of the issue of Islamic fundamentalism have almost completely insulated themselves from the great tradition of scholarship and traditional spirituality. For example, both Jerry Falwell and Osama bin Laden seem to agree that the Koran allows cart blanche to carry out war as one sees fit (if one is a Muslim). Dakake's article makes it clear that only a total ignoramus or a delusional maniac could accept such an interpretation in light of the history of just war theory in Islam.

In general, one finds insights about Islam and the present situation that it is difficult to find elsewhere. You will not find rehashing of the same tired analysis we are pelted with on a daily basis in our media. Agree or not, the points of view presented here are important and are, to my mind, very persuasive.

5-0 out of 5 stars This Book Puts Political Islam in Perspective
It is with the highest confidence that I recommend this superlative book. For almost three years I've been trying to reconcile the contradictory definitions of Islam (and more importantly political Islam) set by both the religion's detractors and adherents. Finally Joseph Lumbard's book paints a lucid picture of the plight of modern Islam, the precarious struggle between Islamic traditionalism and modernism, and the intellectual slip-ups of the religion's "fundamentalist" misinterpreters. Of course some essays are stronger than others (see the Winter article), though the book is consistent in its high level of scholarship. In fact, it sets the standard for the post 9-11 Islamic academic discourse. At 14 bucks, this book is a steal on many levels (not the least of which being its high-quality printing and format), and I highly recommend it for anybody remotely interested in Islam, political science, religious studies, or current events. If you, like me, feel that nobody has adequately explained and analyzed the seemingly insane and indiscriminate nature of terrorism and its neoconservative response from a socio-religious perspective, then this is THE book for you. ... Read more


139. The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali (Oneworld Classics in Religious Studies)
by William Montgomery Watt
list price: $21.95
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Asin: 1851680624
Catlog: Book (1995-02-01)
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Sales Rank: 733086
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Islamic classic and gem for developing piety
This small volume will take the observant traveller (muslim) throught the mental and physical regimen required to grow in devotional respect for his (or her) religion. No single book outside the Qur'an has so moved me. Obtain it, study it, practice it, and see for yourself. ... Read more


140. Islam: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Malise Ruthven
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
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Asin: 0192853899
Catlog: Book (2000-05-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 137821
Average Customer Review: 2.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Islam features widely in the news, often in its most militant versions.But few people in the non-Muslim world really understand the nature of Islam, both as Ideology and religion.Islam:A Very Short Introduction offers essential insight into the structure and beliefs of this major world religion. Malise Ruthven answers fundamental questions about the nature and scope of Islam such as why the greatest Jihad (holy war) is now against the enemies of Islam, rather than the struggle against evil, why Islam has such major divisions between movements such as the Shiis, the Sunnis, and the Wahhabis, and how the Sharia (Islamic law) has become such an important aspect of Islamic life.In addition, he prompts further questioning into the ideas of Islamic resurgence as both an old and new concept, whether or not women can find fulfillment and equality within an Islamic framework, and the sort of problems facing Islam and its confrontations with the modern world. Offering fresh insights and new information, Islam: A Very Short Introduction provides a much needed discussion of Islams past, present, and future, and its place in modern world religions. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Yep, it's a disappointment
The author begins by complaining that such a short introduction can't adequately present Islam. Fair enough, but Ruthven then proceeds to waste much time critiquing certain points of view rather than just giving an exposition. Even worse, he often makes offhand allusions to people and historical events and takes an abstract, high-handed tone, so that I feel I would have to already be acquainted with Islam and the history of the Arab world in order to understand what he's talking about. Jeez, this was supposed to be an intro, not a refresher!

5-0 out of 5 stars Academic Judgments Now Eclipsed By History
As usual this Very Short Introduction is right on target, that is, a quick and lucid overview of a major world religion. Yet, the post-September 11th times have sadly eclipsed the author's judgment about the future pietist or quietist trend in Islam. Perhaps in the long view his opinions will be justified at a future date, but for now they just seem to be prematurely dated. Despite that apparently negative comment from this reviewer, there is no better place to start learning about Islam than with Ruthven's book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Islam a very short 'philospohical' introduction
The Author Malise Ruthven obviously made a lot of effort, which I believe was genuine, to display Islam in the form he believed in it, not necessarly what Islam really is. Although he has embedded a lot of correct contributions and beliefs of Muslims, he has missed some fundemental and "constitutional ones" on several occasions. His approach is a more philospohical one, that would leave a person coming for the first time to know Islam to be more confused with the author's ideas on Islam than the basics and essence of Islam and its meaning to Muslims.

He starts with a chapter on the politics of Islam, which I see very uneccesary to start a "short" introduction to Islam. He corrects important misconceptions on Islam, but blurrs and misinterpret others. For example in his description of the understanding of Jesus in Islam, he was very accurate, while he makes baseless and swooping conclusions that the trip of the Prophet Mohamed Peace be upon him to the heavens was most probably an imagination, even though it is mentioned in the Quran. I think the book would have benefited hugely if it was reviewed by a Muslim scholar to iluminate for the author where he definetly got it wrong. This book may serve for theological and philosphical debates and discussions but definetly not a first introduction of Islam to non-Muslims.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I initially bought this book because I was impressed with another "Very short introduction" entitled "The Koran" by Michael Cook. I thought that "Islam" would be as good, but I was disappointed. Instead of a thoughtful and insightful book, I found "Islam" to be a hodgepodge collection of facts, opinions and speculation that brought me no closer to understanding Islam than I had been before. Ruthven is best in the brief sections when he sticks to comparing religions (which is apparently what he does for a living). However, the author seems to misunderstand many aspects of Islam, and makes several significant factual errors- the greatest of these perhaps is the assertion of the widespread influence of Sufism on Islam and the Muslim world as a whole. If you are thinking of buying this book in order to get an understanding of Islam, forget it. Buy "The Koran" instead, and you will get a much better understanding (and book) at the same price. ... Read more


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