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41. Muhammad: His Life Based on the
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42. What Everyone Needs to Know About
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43. The Formation of Islam : Religion
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44. Understanding the Koran: A Quick
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45. Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions
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46. The Oxford History of Islam
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47. The Cambridge Illustrated History
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48. The Golden Age of the Moor (Journal
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49. The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways
50. Understanding the Qur'an : Themes
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51. The Meccan Revelations
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52. Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth
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53. Qur'an Liberation and Pluralism
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54. Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences
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55. The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots
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56. Travellers in Faith: Studies of
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57. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman
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58. Islam,: The Straight Path
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59. Dictionary of the Holy Quran,
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60. The Illuminated Prayer : The Five-Times

41. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
by Martin Lings
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 0892811706
Catlog: Book (1987-09-01)
Publisher: Inner Traditions International
Sales Rank: 38607
Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In his smooth, narrative style, Martin Lings presents a biography of Muhammad, using

sources from the eighth and ninth centuries, including some passages never before translated.Here are the words of the men and women who heard the Prophet speak.

This is the first paperback edition of this important work, which sold 7,500 copies in the cloth edition.

The Muslim population of the U.S. is on a strong growth curve.It is estimated that there are now between 4 and 7 million Muslims in the U.S. ... Read more

Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars awesome book
...this is an excellent source for the life of the prophet of islam. lings' source documentation is superb as is his 'movie-like' story-telling style. however, with lings there is an obvious shi'i/sufi lean and therefore this book should not be used as the only source for the life of muhammad. i personally recommend another book to supplement lings' entitled "muhammad: prophet and statesman" by w. montgomery watt. he gives a more analytical approach to the life of the prophet and with both of these books you will have very well rounded and significant knowledge of muhammad and his message.

5-0 out of 5 stars Look no further for information on Muhammad
Martin Lings must have a degree is story telling, because he sure does have a knack for it. It is absolutely impossible to put this book down once you pick it up. Not only is the story fascinating, but the way in which it is presented leaves the reader begging for more--a sequel even.

This is by far the best book in the english language, based on original sources, about the life of Muhammad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great for my report!
This book helped me SO MUCH on my school report of Muhammad. The facts were what I needed, and simple enough for me to understand. I can feel an A comming on!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I don't care if ppl say that there are a few weird stories in this one, this is the BEST as far as I am concerned and one that made me relate to the Prophet like never before!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography
There is indeed no better biography about Muhammad in the English language. This book is well written, and is effective at painting a complete picture of the Islamic prophet's life. Many have complained that it is not historic, but I disagree. Lings has used early sources written in Arabic when writing this book, and he references these continually through this book.

This is the greatest strength of Lings book, he has taken materials that are inaccesible to most English-speaking people, and synthasized vast amounts of information into a well written and gripping narrative about the life of Muhammad. ... Read more

42. What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam
by John L. Esposito
list price: $18.95
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Asin: 0195157133
Catlog: Book (2002-09-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 36481
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, there has been an overwhelming demand for information about Islam. As a leading expert, John Esposito has found himself called upon to speak to a wide range of audiences, including members of Congress, the Bush administration, government agencies, the military, and the media. Out of this experience, he has identified the most pressing questions people consistently ask about Islam.In What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, Esposito presents in question-and-answer format the information that most people want to know. Esposito provides succinct, accessible, sensitive, and even-handed answers to questions that range from the general--"What do Muslims believe?" and "Who was Muhammad?"--to more specific issues like Is Islam compatible with modernization, capitalism and democracy? How do Muslims view Judaism and Christianity? Are women second-class citizens in Islam? What is jihad? Does the Quran condone terrorism? What does Islam say about homosexuality, birth control, abortion, and slavery?The editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islam and The Oxford History of Islam, and author of Unholy War and many other acclaimed works, John Esposito is one of America's leading authorities on Islam. This brief and readable book is the first place to look for information on the faith, customs, and political beliefs of the more than one billion people who call themselves Muslims. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Compact Guide to Understanding Islam
This is a concise book built around answering straightforward questions most people have about the Islamic religion and culture. Like any book that is under 200 pages, you can't claim it to be an authoritative or complete source.

Esposito does do a fine job of figuring out what (I think) most people would want to know and than furnishing concise, easy to read answers. We learn what the five pillars of the Islamic faith are. We learn what the Muslim people believe about Christ, the Old Testament, the New Testament and how they believe Muhammad received God's last revelation. We learn about the Black Muslim movement in the USA fits into Islam and its interesting. We learn what Jihad, or "holy war" really is and how the concept has been interpreted and misinterepreted by different groups.

At times, I felt Esposito perhaps downplayed negative aspects in Islam. He does attempt to explain why some Muslims hate America and the West. However, this lacked the depth that one would hope for. Also, some Medieval aspects of Islam culture such as countries that practice stoning for adultery and amputation for thievery don't get the criticism they should.

The great feature of this book is that you can learn a lot in a short time because of its size and the amount of information contained within it. Those interested in this subject should get a copy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Esposito on Islam
Faith and Practice, the first chapter of the book is an excellent introduction to the history of Islam, the Quran and Mohammad for people with little background in such issues. Esposito does a fine job of explaining the Five Pillars of Islam and noting the differences and similarities between the Quran and Jewish and Christian tradition. In all, I found this chapter to be honest and engaging.
However, when "hot" issues such as violence, terrorism, suicide bombing and the treatment of women are handled, Esposito seems unable or unwilling to level any criticism toward Muslims or their religion and this is not the honest interpretation one would expect. For instance, the author goes to great lengths to portray the veiling of women as both honorable and liberating, arguing that many Muslim women believe that such dress frees them from the judgments Western women face while wearing tight clothes and "dangerous", yes "dangerous", high heels. This may indeed be true for some Muslim women but Esposito fails to give consideration to those women who do find such requirements in dress and behavior restricting. Are we to believe that all women feel liberated by veiling?
This pattern holds true for Esposito's responses to other controversial issues such as terrorism and violence. Esposito spends multiple paragraphs referring to the Quranic tradition of peace and respect while ignoring the actual fact of terrorism and violence. During a discussion on suicide bombing (p.126), Esposito quotes a Palestinian fighter as remarking " The Israelis blow us up. Why shouldn't I go to Israel and take some of them with me?" The author gives no suggestion that this reasoning is flawed.
Similarly, Esposito explains the position of one Sheikh that killing Israeli civilians is justified as both men and women serve in Israel's military. If any elderly or children are killed in such acts, it is an "involuntary killing." Esposito fails to clarify exactly what an "involuntary killing" means to a Muslim, but it sounds decidedly like murder to me.
In a book ostensibly about Islam and not in defense of Islam, the author is often times openly critical of the West and Israel, yet rarely so unsympathetic to Islam or Muslims. Esposito takes great strides to explain extremist violence as a result of living in a rough neighborhood and political and cultural realities. Yet, he affords no such consideration to Israel. At one point, Esposito takes Israel to task for its use of advanced weaponry and helicopters, judging the Israeli capabilities and response to be disproportionate to suicide bombings. If Esposito gave the political realities facing Israel the same consideration he gave extremists he may well see a rationale for Israel maintaining a strong military. Surrounded by a multitude of hostile nations, it would seem logical for Israel to rely upon technology rather than manpower to defend itself, yet this logic apparently evades Esposito's mind, or at least his pen.
I was not looking for this book to vilify Islam, if you are after that there are plenty of sources available. What I expected was a balanced account of Islam, but unfortunately this is not it. I found the initial chapter very useful, but Esposito's discussion of controversial issues was evasive or perhaps worse, disingenuous.

5-0 out of 5 stars I learned a lot
I came into this book knowing nothing about Islam other than the image potrayed on tv after reading this book I learned a lot about this interesting religion. It has allowed me to understand my muslim friends better.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introductory Text
Esposito is one of my favourite authors of general books on Islam. This book is probably the ideal starter text for those new to learning about the religion.

"What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam" is a wonderful starter text. It is written in the format of questions-and-answers. The book is excellently organised with a complete index, as well as a simple glossary. The questions asked (and answered) are importantly and relevant. Using this method, Esposito both introduces the readers to the termonology but also the scriptures, history, culture(s) and beliefs.

The book gets four stars because -- like others have said -- Esposito tends to glaze over a lot of negative aspects that are commonly critised instead of responding to it. However, I feel this is for brevity and not as necessary in this text as it would be in another introductory book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beginner's Guide to Understanding Islam
Author John Esposito is a professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has written books about the subject of Islam before, and he writes this one with a keen sense of education in mind. Most people know very little about the religion known as Islam, and Esposito seems like he is on a mission, in this book, to help enlighten the world's people about the facts and myths regarding the world's second largest religion.

I think it's safe to say that most people know very little about Islam. Until I read this book, I didn't really know much either. I knew some of the most basic things, like that the Quran was the holy book of Islam; the prayers that Muslims say each day; and a few other things. But my knowledge level ended right there. When I picked up this book, I began to learn things that I had never heard of before. Probably the greatest surprise was the fact that the Islamic religion regards Jesus Christ and Abraham as the second and third most important men to ever walk the face of the earth (after, of course, Muhammad). The next surprise was when I discovered that Islam teaches that the virgin birth of Jesus was real, and the Quran makes mention of Jesus and Mary even more frequently than the Christian Bible. Other facts were noteworthy, but not as shocking, like the fact that the Quran allows a man to have as many as four wives provided that he will treat them equally and support them.

The issue of the day with Islam is whether or not its religious creeds are conducive to violence. There is a full chapter in this book that attempts to answer this question. According to the Quran, violence is acceptable in certain situations, like when a man's family and/or faith might be threatened. Here lies the problem with interpretation. To a more radical member of the faith, this means that any threat at all to one's faith is deserving of retaliation (and that could include almost anything). But to a more moderate Muslim, this is interpreted to mean that only self- defense is permissible.

Esposito keeps this book on a factual level. There is no analysis or any open debate of the issues. Esposito wrote this book as a way to educate the world's people about the religion of Islam- what the Quran says, what Islamic tradition allows, what customs and cultural norms dictate, etc. There is no arguing on the part of Esposito. He just tells you what is known to be true and leaves it at that.

In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Islam has taken center stage in the world debate over religion and violence. Many people have taken sides in the debate, labeling Muslims as purveyors of hate and violence. But the truth is, very little is really known about Islam by the worlds non- Muslim population. Esposito's book attempts to change all of that, with a simple to read, question and answer type format. It makes a good beginner's book on the subject of Islam, with lots of facts about the second most common religion in the world, after Christianity. ... Read more

43. The Formation of Islam : Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800 (Themes in Islamic History)
by Jonathan P. Berkey
list price: $21.99
our price: $21.99
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Asin: 0521588138
Catlog: Book (2002-12-11)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 59596
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Book Description

Jonathan Berkey surveys the religious history of the peoples of the Near East from approximately 600 to 1800 c.e.After examining the religious scene in the Near East in late antiquity, he investigates Islam's first century, the "classical" period from the accession of the Abbasids to the rise of the Buyid amirs. He then traces the emergence of new forms of Islam in the middle period, deftly showing how Islam emerged slowly as part of a prolonged process. ... Read more

44. Understanding the Koran: A Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book
by Mateen Elass
list price: $12.99
our price: $9.74
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Asin: 0310248124
Catlog: Book (2004-06-01)
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
Sales Rank: 20931
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A quick non-technical,introduction to the Koran designed to help Christians understand a hidden book revered by 1.3 billion Muslims, covering the background on its writing, a summary of its contents, a perspective on how it’s used and viewed by Muslims, a comparison of differences and similarities to the Bible, and some suggestions on how it should and should not be used in conversations with Muslims. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a book written from a knowledgeable point of view
Written by a Christian who was raised in a Muslim family "Understanding the Koran" is one of the most even-handed and accurate treatments of the Koran by a Christian writer that I have read. This book stands out as a refreshing breath of fresh air in an area far too crowed by prejudiced and misleading books based more on fear than anything else. Author Mateen Elass provides an understanding not only of the Koran but also of the Muslim faith in general. She discusses history, traditions, and religious custom as well as the belief system itself. If you are tired of the multitude of books that tell you what the Koran says when it is obvious the authors have obviously never read it themselves you will be delighted with this one with an author that obviously has an intimate knowledge of Muslim and Christian religious texts, practices, and beliefs. "Understanding the Koran" is highly recommended to all readers and given the current state of inaccurate propaganda being spread from all quarters it is required reading for anyone who wants an accurate portrayal of the Koran. ... Read more

45. Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith
by Robert Spencer, David Pryce-Jones
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 1893554589
Catlog: Book (2002-08)
Publisher: Encounter Books
Sales Rank: 14574
Average Customer Review: 3.99 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In "Islam Unveiled," Robert Spencer dares to face the hard questions about what the Islamic religion actually teaches--and the potentially ominous implications of those teachings for the future of both the Muslim world and the West. Going beyond the shallow distinction between a "true" peaceful Islam and the "hijacked" Islam of terrorist groups, Spencer probes the Koran and Islamic traditions (as well as the history and present-day situation of the Muslim world) as part of his inquiry into why the world's fastest growing faith tends to arouse fanaticism.

"Islam Unveiled" evaluates the relationship between Islamic fundamentalism and "mainstream" Islam; the fixation with violence and jihad; the reasons for Muslims' disturbing treatment of women; and devastating effects of Muslim polygamy and Islamic divorce laws.Spencer explores other daunting questions--why the human rights record of Islamic countries is so unrelievedly grim and how the root causes of this record exist in basic Muslim beliefs; why science and high culture died out in the Muslim world--and why this is a root cause of modern Muslim resentment.He evaluates what Muslims learn from the life of Muhammad, the man that Islam hails as the supreme model of human behavior.Above all, this provocative work grapples with the question that most preoccupies us today: can Islam create successful secularized societies that will coexist peacefully with the West's multicultural mosaic? ... Read more

Reviews (94)

4-0 out of 5 stars Should be a five star book
Overall, an excellent book. Yes, I say overall. Robert Spencer gives the reader a good and an honest appraisal of the more aggressive Qur'anic verses and how they've been applied throughout the history of Islam, the concept of jihad, perceived as unlimited and a religious obligation that will continue until all the world has either adopted the Muslim faith or submitted to Muslim rule, "human rights" under Islam, the role of women in Islam, Islam's historic treatment of non-Muslims (something which Bat Ye'or, whom he acknowledges, goes into great depth), "The Crusades: Christian and Muslim," etc. He does not gloss over the violent episodes in Christianity but points out to the reader that these acts of violence cannot be justified on the basis of the text itself. (There are those who would rightly disagree, maintaining at least in part, that the seeds of anti-Semitism can be found in the text; e.g., 1Thes 2:14-16 for example) Mr. Spencer gives a good deal of space to other authors such as Paul Fregosi, Phiip Hitti, V. S. Naipaul, Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, Yoseph Bodanksy, David Pryce-Jones and even Karen Armstrong (who is way off in left-field), Mr. Spencer offering his own refreshing insights into their respective viewpoints. For a guy who is very picky about the books I read, this one is highly readable and it's available on tape as well.

In the prologue, the author makes this difficult statement. One which those who are fair-minded and knowledgeable about the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict (or better, the Israeli-Muslim world conflict) might regard as an act of appeasement or worse, a sop; something which Mr. Spencer himself readily exposes and acknowledges on the part of an insecure West. The statement: "Today, Palestinians and other Muslims in fact suffer wrongs that cannot be justified." Now Israel, as a nation (perhaps no better or worse than is the U.S. in the conduct of warfare), has been fighting for her very existence in a very dangerous neighborhood for decades. On September 11, 2001, Americans only got a small taste of what Israel experiences on a daily and weekly basis, and we Americans were rightly outraged and therefore mobilized. Nonetheless, this statement would be akin to saying "Afghanis, Iraqis and other Muslims in fact suffered wrongs (presumably at the hands of the Americans) that simply cannot be justified." This would be the implication of Mr. Spencer's statement here, otherwise what other explanation is there except, as he writes, "Islam itself in some way exacerbates the conflicts in which these wrongs occur."(?) In some way?

Again, this is an otherwise exceptional book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Alarming
Islam Unveiled is a concise, well-written, and meticulously documented examination of the threat now facing all of Western civilization. Spencer convincingly argues that the real root of Islamic terrorism in not oppressed Islamists, but Islam itself.

Not one of Mr. Spencer's multitudinous critics has yet managed to offer a credible refutation of his thesis. Resorting instead to shrill cries of "racist, Zionist, hate-monger," -and in one case demanding that Mr. Spencer "not be allowed to write-," this braying pack of self-styled intellectual peace-mongers and incoherent Islamists (see the raving broken-English reviews below) has done nothing other than strengthen his thesis.

If Islam is truly a peaceful religion steeped in a tradition of high art and culture, then one of these critics better quit name calling and get to work on a rational, point-for-point critique of Spencer's work that relies on evidence rather than invective.

However, if their behavior thus far is any indication, the odds of that happening are slim.

Buy this book. Read it twice. Give copies to your friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading for any American that wants to live
Islam Unveiled is required reading for any American that wants to live and does not want to be a victim of Islamic terror.

The author writes, in detail, in a marvelously researched manner. The mistake that many people make is that Islam is only anti-Israel. For from it. Islam is anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Protestant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Buddhist, anti just about everything.

Even if there was no Israel, or the US was not an ally of Israel, radical Islam would still despise the USA.

When Islam despises you, your live is in danger.

This is a horrifying book. What is most horrifying is that it is non-fiction.

4-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating introduction to the Theology of Islam
I was interested in reading this book for obvious reasons. Considering the terrorism of 9-11, and the current situation in the middle-east, Islam has been widely discussed, in terms which often fail to provide any real insight into the basis for the actions of a few, and the beliefs of many.

This book is a fast read, and flows smoothly, and is never dry. It combines some good academic overviews and thesis about the Qur'an, and how its words align with the actions of Islamic people, both those who seek peace, and those who wish to wage war on "infidels" who do not follow the teachings.

One of the most fascinating sections was the rich depiction of Islamic history, and the scientific and cultural impacts made in the middle ages. The history is colorful and deep, and I had been unaware of the many contributions to society and how impactful it was. The book is worth reading for this background alone.

The real discussion is of course whether the core beliefs of Islam support the terrorism and often clear violations of human rights that westerners take for granted. A glimpse into the truth behind this question is provided by Sa'id Raja'i-Khorassani, the Iran delegate to the United Nations who stated in 1985 "the very concept of human rights was a Judeo-Christian invention and inadmissible in Islam" (page 104). While often the politically-correct focus of western media seeks to avoid any direct correlations of violent actions and their link to the core tenets of Islam, the link is nonetheless clear.

According to the book, the Qur'an states that "Muhammad is God's Apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to unbelievers but merciful to one another" (Sura 48:29). The Qur'an further enjoins "Believers. Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous" (Sura 9:123). There is simply no place in the Qur'an which extols one to "love thy neighbor as thyself" or "turn the other cheek" as in the New Testament. Therefore whether it is the Taliban, or Bin Laden, they do in fact appear have the support of their Holy Book, without any condemnation of their actions.

The book makes many such arguments, and does so in what appears to be a very objective and well documented fashion.

While I personally hold that most Islamic people are not living to wage war on those who are not followers of Mohammad, there are certainly many who do, and it would appear that this is supported by the core tenets of their faith.

The book is a fascinating look at an often misunderstood belief system. The book has hundreds of sources quoted and is well documented. Well written and interesting throughout.

5-0 out of 5 stars Presents Islam without any p.c. restrictions
Multiculturalism stinks. Politicians, to prevent finger-pointing, have espoused constantly that islam is a religion of peace. Robert Spencer finally has the courage to state the truth - that there can be no peace until either we're all islamic or they're all non-existent. According to the koran, all of the major religions except for islam are not allowed to co-exist. Whereas you can find tolerance within Catholocism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, et al, there is none whatsoever within this bigoted religion. All followers are called upon to persecute/kill those different from themselves; our western ideas of freedom and individual liberty are in direct competition with their subjugating ideas. Women are treated as inferior citizens. To prove rape, a woman must have 5 males present at time of penile insertion willing to attest that she was raped. There are many instances where a woman who was raped would be exiled out of the house or even killed by her family for having disgraced them - so called honor killings. Some have even been condemned in court for extramarital relations because they could not prove rape. According to sharia (islamic law) the word of one man is worth that of two women in all court cases.

Robert Spencer also dispels the myth that Christians were the agressors in the first 2 Crusades. Be thankful that we're the ones with the advanced weaponry; if it were the other way around, we'd all be dead already.

Undoubtedly, the screaming mullahs will be putting out fatwas on anyone opposed to this book - which portrays these people rightly as a Clear and Present danger to all non-muslims. ... Read more

46. The Oxford History of Islam
by John L. Esposito
list price: $49.95
our price: $40.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195107993
Catlog: Book (2000-01-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 73277
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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The entire history of Islamic civilization is, of course, too much to cover in a single volume, but John Esposito comes close. In a book topping 700 pages and containing over 300 photographs, Esposito brings together experts in fields such as early Islamic history, art and architecture, science and medicine, Islam in Africa and Southeast Asia, and contemporary Islam. Beginners will be swimming in new discoveries, while old hands will find connections and facts they never suspected. Majid Fakhry, for instance, shows not only the influence of philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) on European intellectuals but also unveils the claims and counterclaims within Islamic philosophy over time. Dru Gladney takes us on an eye-opening journey through Islamic Central Asia and even China, where the Muslim Hui people are recognized as the country's third-largest minority nationality. And have you ever seen an exquisite mosque with towering spires made entirely of mud-brick, like there are in West Africa? Unfortunately, Esposito apparently couldn't find room here for separate sections on Sufism or Islamic literature, but there are more than enough mosques, paintings, historical maps, and tapestries throughout to keep you turning pages and learning with fascination. --Brian Bruya ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars An invaluable introduction
Esposito produces an excellent readable history of Islam and its powerful impacts on Western Civilization. Espositio gathered a large number of scholars, each to produce a different chapter covering issues like math, philosophy, politics, etc. While no single volume could cover so vast a subject, the reader is left with what is almost certainly the best introduction to Islam.

While many people, unfortunately, have bought Karen Armstrong's Short History of Islam, this text is far superior in almost every way. Not only is it more thorough and better written, it also deals with Islam from within as well as from without. Islamic culture is examined not from the perspective of an outsider with rose colored glasses, but from several distinguished and Muslim and non-Muslim scholars with a firm background in the subject.

There is not doubt that no single volume could do all of Islamic history justice. However, this book with its rich photographs and strong prose, is probably as good an introduction as you could get under a single cover.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Have!
Read very closely:

If you want to study Islam's history and you don't have this book, then your missing one of the best...or should I say "the" best book on Islam's history. This book is worth much more than 50$. It discusses everything, from history to science, art to medicine, it is very well-written too.

And even if your just looking for basic history events, this book is still a must-have.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good history
Occasionally people look at my bookshelves and think that there is some sort of unofficial Oxford Press day at Fr. Kurt's house. There is a good reason why so many of my books carry the indenture of Oxford University Press -- there is a general level of scholarly quality that such books rarely fall below.

The Oxford History of Islam

One such quality book is John Esposito's recent volume on the history of Islam. Published in 1999, this one might well have included the word Illustrated in the title, for it is lavishly illustrated throughout with pictures, photographs, maps, and drawings. It provides a wide-ranging and in-depth account of Islam. 'Although Islam is the youngest of the major world religions, with 1.2 billion followers, Islam is the second largest and fastest-growing religion in the world. To speak of the world of Islam today is to refer not only to countries that stretch from North Africa to Southeast Asia but also to Muslim minority communities that exist across the globe. Thus, for example, Islam is the second or third largest religion in Europe and the Americas.'

This is an accessible volume -- technical terms have been kept to a minimum, and the writing is cast in a readable, narrative format. Yet this volume is still of good service to scholars and specialists, with indexing and chapter topics that are arranged conceptually as well as chronologically. Including both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, the contributors are experts in different disciplines and come from a variety of national and religious backgrounds.

The first section of the book covers the beginnings of Islam: the development of faith and scripture in the Koran, community and institutional development, early personalities in Islam, and contributions to art and science. Included in this section is the early interactions of Christianity and Islam, which have provided in many ways the continuing framework of tension between the West and the Muslim world.

The second section of the book looks at the decline of Islam as an 'imperial' religion, and the splintering of the Muslim world into kingdoms, sultanates and smaller bodies inside other political structures -- these various groupings provided different bases for Islam, which in turn developed differing regional expressions in terms of practice and outlook.

The next sections address the developments of colonialism and the post-colonial problems and opportunities that face Islam, both in political and religious terms, as well as the relationship of Islam to the modern world both at it impacts Islam in countries officially Muslim as well as in more pluralistic nations. 'At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Islam is indeed a global presence that blurs old distinctions between the Muslim world and the West. Islam is truly a world religion, necessitating coverage of both Islam and the West and Islam in the West.'

Tracing an early history of Islam presents many of the same problems encountered in doing such for any religion -- to what extent can the scholars remain objective? What does objectivity mean? To what extent can scriptural and traditional sources of stories be regarded as historically authoritative, and to what extent have details been changed to achieve other, more religious ends? Little is known (in the historically authoritative sense) about the Prophet Muhammad's early life. Apart from the Koran, most of the texts with historical information about Muhammad and the early years of Islam were recorded later, perhaps (like the New Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures) by people who chose to emphasise some items and overlook other details that do not conform with what modern scholars are hoping for in their research.

Well indexed, with timelines and other reference aids, this is a great volume for scholarly work as well as for interesting reading about this religion which impacts with great importance on the world scene. Many Christians tend to forget that Islam grows out the traditions of worship of the God of Abraham, the same God worshipped by Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.

This is a wonderful volume -- for the typical Western reader, if you were to only read one book on Islam, this would be it!

4-0 out of 5 stars So much, so little
To cover such a broad sweep for this subject in one volume is asking too much, but this book does a credible job of doing so. However, I felt I was missing something because so much critical detail was missing, such as how was the spread of Islam accomplished (key "wars," battles, overall strategy, common set of tactics?), only passing references to some of the giants of history, Crusades - what six Crusades-They barely get a mention, etc. I decided that the purpose of the book was to summarize; and if I want more depth, get it elsewhere.

The one thing which did drive me nuts was both the lack of more maps to better show places discussed in the text, and the lack of detail on the maps which were present. Beautiful photographs, but totally inadequate maps.

Overall, great book to start trying to understand one of the world's great religions, especially after September 11. It gives the reader coverage of a broad scope of subjects which require some familiarity to understand Islam, even those some readers might otherwise skip. However, if you are really intersted, plan on going on to other sources.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good, fair introduction
Dr. Esposito is very fair in his writing, which is why so many people have something to complain about; Esposito is not pro-Anybody, so he offends people who are. This is a good introduction to the history of Islamic Civilization. It's fair and balanced. The lay reader may have difficulty sometimes in separating politics and religion in the world of Islam, but it is equally difficult to separate politics and religion in Christianity and Judaism, even today in some places, and certainly hundreds of years ago. Religion and politics have always mixed until recently -- take the Crusades, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, for a few examples. The Muslims may have taken over a huge part of the world, but this is no different from the Roman empire taking over a huge part of the world. The Muslims were generally tolerant rulers.

But it's perfectly true that in the West we haven't had a clear picture of Islamic civilization. Partly it is because of the language. Partly it is because new tall tales were built on old tall tales -- people have always made up nasty stories about their enemies. Even into the 20th century, textbooks on Islam didn't even have their terminology correct. There have been many recent objective scholarly studies on Islam and the way it spread, but one scholar writes that it is still common for people in the West to take it for granted that Islam is a violent religion of the sword. This book represents the newer, more objective studies that work from original research and do not just base the information on the old tall tales.

Stereotypes in the West about Islam are so ingrained that any attempt to set out the facts in a straightforward, unbaised manner, as this book does, are viewed as "whitewashing." The truth is that Islam has a better record than most in terms of religious tolerance. But we don't believe it. We think the Ottomans were intolerant and cruel, when in fact they were indifferent to local religions; they welcomed 50,000 Jews into the Ottoman Empire when Catholic Spain exiled them, and welcomed the Jews back to Jerusalem after the previous Christian rulers systematically banned them. The head of their army was traditionally Christian.

An example of this difficulty in seeing past the stereotypes is the reviewer who portrays Tamerlaine as the "greatest Muslim conqueror of all." How could this be when Tamerlaine didn't follow the strict rules of war that Islam requires? When he didn't attack to spread Islam, but for power? Tamerlaine attacked Muslims as well as non-Muslims and treated Muslims as atrociously as he treated anyone else. In the scope of the history of the Muslim world, Tamerlaine was a power-hungry attacker who destroyed what Muslims and others had built and whose brief empire disintegrated after he died. THAT is why he doesn't get much treatment in this book. He just wasn't all that important. But in the West, he is unjustifiably immortalized because of Christopher Marlowe's play, in which Tamerlaine's exploits are luridly detailed and his deeds are considered "Islamic" because he claimed to be Muslim. Being piqued about Tamerlaine not being discussed much is like being piqued because Hitler isn't discussed much in an entire history of Christianity.

Anyway, ...If you want a good, fair, readable history of the Islamic world, edited by a scholar who grew up Catholic but who has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies, then get this book. ... Read more

47. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World
list price: $34.99
our price: $23.09
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Asin: 0521669936
Catlog: Book (1999-08-01)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 198664
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Islamic peoples account for one fifth of the world's population and yet there is widespread misunderstanding in the West of what Islam really is. Francis Robinson and his team set out to address this, revealing the complex and sometimes contrary nature of Muslim culture. As well as taking on the issues uppermost in everyone's minds, such as the role of religious and political fundamentalism, they demonstrate the importance of commerce; literacy and learning; Islamic art; the effects of immigration, exodus, and conquest; and the roots of current crises in the Middle East, Bosnia, and the Gulf. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the interaction between Islam and the West, from the first Latin translations of the Quran to the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. This elegant book deliberately sets out to dismantle the Western impression of Islam as a monolithic world and replace it with a balanced view, from current issues of fundamentalism to its dynamic culture and art.Francis Robinson is the editor of two outstanding reference works: Atlas of the Islamic World Since 1500 (Cambridge, 1982) and The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India (1989). ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Intro to Islamic Culture and Belief
In an age of prejudice towards the Islamic faith, it is nice to see a more accurate and even-handed book covering the Muslim world. This book gives an excellent introduction, going into depth on how the west has viwed the Islamic world, and vice-versca. Then it goes onto the first chapter, where it discusses pre-Islamic Arabia, the life of Mohammad, the Rashidun, the schism between Sunni and Shi'a, and the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. This chapter is especially interesting in laying the framework for the foundations of the Islamic world, as well as the spread of Islam and Arabic culture, and later conversion of non-Arab peoples (most notably the Persians). In the next chapter, the Islamic world from 1000 to 1500 AD is covered, when Islam had spread across the Middle East, west to Spain and west Africa and east towards India and Central Asia. This chapter covers many interesting subjects, such as the Fatimid dynasty, the Crusades, the Mongols, Byzantium and the Turks, and Islamic states in East Asia and Africa. The third chapter covers the period from 1500 to 1800 AD, a period of both great achievements and decline. The Persian, Mongol and Turkish powers are mentioned (such as the Safavids, Mughals and Ottomans), alongside mention of Islam in Africa and elsehwere in Asia (mainly China and Southeast Asia).

The subsequent chapter focuses on the 1800s to the present day, and a growing western presence in Islamic lands. This chapter shows how European powers carved up Islamic lands (the French in Syria and north/west Africa, the Brits in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and South Asia, the Italians in north Africa, Russians in central Asia, etc), and how Islamicist reformer movements arose because of this. Mention is also made of non-colonized states (such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran), and of the emergence of independant Islamic states. The second section of the book goes more into cultural studies, delving into economies, trade routes and social structure within the Islamic world. Mention is made of both historical traderoutes and interconnectedness in the Islamic world, stretching from Morocco to Indonesia, and of modern economies in predominantly Muslim states. In chapter seven, the book explores learning in Islamic societies. Mention is made of the high degree of literacy in Islam, and the many great scientific achievements in medicine, astronomy and mathematics. Mention is also made of the impact of the west on Islamic learning. This is followed by a chapter on the arts in the Islamic world, ranging from calligraphy to architecture to classical Arabic music (including mention of legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kalthum) and everything in between. This is an excellent chapter for understanding and appreciating Islamic culture.

The book closes out with a conclusion on Islam in the modern world, relationships with the west, the spread of Islam to every country in the world and crises in Bosnia, Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya. It also has a wonderful timeline covering various Islamic dynasties around the world and a short glossary of Arabic terms. Its quite a nice book for getting to understand some of the basic history and culture of the Islamic world and some of the current issues facing the Islamic world. For the purposes of this book, by the way, the Islamic world counts as any country where the majority of the population is Muslim, not just self-declared Islamic states (which would be limited to Iran, Pakistan, Mauritania and such). Hence it covers almost all of the Middle East, north Africa, Central Asia and much of South Asia, as well as Bosnia, Albania, parts of west and east Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and so forth. In fact, the book makes a point of examining Islam in South Asia, Africa, China and elsewhere beyond the Middle East. It also includes many illustrations and maps of the Islamic world. Hence its an invaluable aid for anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, in understanding the wonderful history and culture of Islam. However, it doesn't go into depth on beliefs or specific cultures (such as Arabs, Persians, Malay, Mongols and whatnot), so you would need to look elsewhere for that. ... Read more

48. The Golden Age of the Moor (Journal of African Civilizations, Vol 11, Fall 1991)
by Ivan Van Sertima
list price: $20.00
our price: $20.00
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Asin: 1560005815
Catlog: Book (1991-11-01)
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Sales Rank: 224251
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Labored, but valuable
It is a pity that in the 21st century a book about the Moors still is forced to take great pains over the question of their skin pigmentation. Nonetheless, it is apparently necessary to do so, and this book directs tremendous scholarly firepower on the issue. I hope that it establishes beyond the need for further debate that the Moors were black africans that conquered and civilized Spain, and then lost it again to a white European reconquista.

If one can get that out of the way, there is so much more of interest in this book. The Moors were among the most civilized peoples of the world in their time. The book has a wealth of detail about that civilization. The most interesting thesis in my mind was that the Moors were a source of the knowledge that flooded Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and thus were coauthors of the renaissance, along with the Arabs and Turks on the other side of the Mediterranean.

The book is occasionally turgid - of interest only to scholars, but there are so many ideas that will be unfamiliar to those of us raised on conventional wisdom, and there is so much detail about the contributions of the Moors to civilization, that this is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in where we all came from.

5-0 out of 5 stars Case Closed
Funny as it sounds, I had no idea of a "Moor" until I saw "Black Knight" with Martin Lawrence. I was wondering why they constantly kept calling him "Moor", was this the equivalent of "Nigger"???

So naturally I went to my Encylopedia (sooo dated by the way) and looked up the term "Moor". Some truth was in their descriptions of Moorish Spain but of course there were lies. One of the most shocking was "Moors were NOT black. Moors come from a European stock".

tsk tsk

Wouldn't you say that's a tad bit misleading? Well I used common sense and didn't take this seriously, and started looking elsewhere. Eslewhere you also hear "Moors were not Black, they were Arab" or "Moors were of a mixed Arab & European race"...pretty much anything besides Black.

I'm guessing if you perpetuate such nonsense it WILL stick.

Dr Ivan Sertima is trully a force in Academia. This book is a perfect example of that authority. This is my 2nd book by the world reknowned scholar & I must say he's outdone himself again. Since a Historian like Dr. Ivan van Sertima is practically forced to emphasize skin color in his work, a Historian with such drive shall prevail.

I'm very tempted to long hand certain commentary from this book but that wouldn't be fair to the Doctor or future readers.

What we call Eurocentric Academia, I feel, has left a gigantic void in World History. This allows Historians like Ivan van Sertima to easily destroy accepted rhetoric in Academia. With the help of Runoko Rashidi, James E. Brunson, Scobie & others, they cover every angle from language to Shakespeare to Spanish Music. Along with convicing photos & credible sources, Arab/African/European, I would say Moors shouldn't be a mystery to anybody, especially what race they were in this time period.

Anybody trully interested in History should own this book, as well as any Ivan van Sertima book you could get your hands on.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sertima relys on physical artifacts not here say.
To the usa reader who made the poor comment about the moroccans not identifying with sub sahara descent, yes this would be true of the berbers (the mulattos) who were a mixed breed of caucazoid nomadics and black africans (moors), who were the original indigineous ppl of north africa and through out the continent. The berbers and other caucazoid mixed ppl do not identify with their so called negroid roots because they were trained to be bigots about what they stole and took from the original ppl of the land. It is physically impossible for the caucazoids to have develop in north africa with the type of physical features and skin texture that is designed as it devlops in a cold icy region such as europe which is were these ppl came from as invaders ( the lost mutated black ppl). It would help in the future that when one who disagrees with ones views of historical events, provide something other than emotional baggage, evidence would be nice which is what Mr. Sertima presented and so should not be overlooked or taken out of context because you cannot handle the truth. For more evidence study the correlation between anthropology and physics and be forever humbled disturbed one, the oldest anthropological finding of human remains possessed 99.9 percent melanin in the recovered minute tissue remains and they also found tools which showed that these early humans were civilized beings, being that they had agricultural understanding. Show me what caucazoid has 99.9 percent melanin pigmentation, such a person does not exist and so this can only be what is described about black ppl(african moors) of our so called negroid features inwhich white scientist did admit to this( see discover magazine or the site )................... So please no more out crys from charlatans who cannot give evidence for evidence, hmmmmm very dishonest and immature. Also stop using the lame excuse of afrocentricity being some restoration of black pride, no pride was ever lost, for the blacks had no reason to iniate invasion upon others like the caucasions( the transformed blacks), so how is that for pride?! On your part, foolish pride for overlooking and trying to find a way around the laws of physical science especially in the area of how melinin develops on the pigmentation level, tsk tsk to your foolish pride! The original humans went through three physiological changes as it pertains to nature/nurture 1. development duration 2. climatical influence 3. human nurture influence. But anyway i give The Golden age of the Moors 5 stars for what it supports ( EVIDENCE ) not empty speculation which is what the cowardly usa reader cryed about with no detailed reference of his or her supposably more inclined authors.

I own this book and it is one of the greatest pieces of literature that I have read. Ivan van Sertima tells it like it is. The Moors were African people who hailed from the northwestern part of Africa. No other people would come out of that continent but BLACK people. They were many, many years ahead of their time and everybody else's time, too. An advanced, superior civilization of Africans that was the center of culture, education, and arts/crafts to the entire world made their presence felt. And when it came to war with France and England, even the greatest of warriors from those places couldn't stand up to the powerful onslaught of these people. Many intelligent African/Arabic/Ethiopic men were a huge part of this era (i.e. Abd-er-Rahman II-III, Ibn-Aby-Amir). These rulers were very powerful and not even the biggest of Christian rebellions led by extreme, hypocritical bigots could put a dent in Morrocan rule. From the Abbisade to the Ummeyyad, Almoravide, and Almohade dynasties everything is covered from the Moors superior knowledge of irrigation and astrology to their lavish lifestyles. The Europeans sat at the feet of African Moorish scientists and teachers (both men and women) and learned everything there was to learn. That's why I look at the Renaissance Period as a time frame when Europeans finally learned to think and do for themselves. Something that African-Morrocan descendents like myself have been doing for eons. This information is the last thing America wants its black citizens to know about as a whole. It's the reason why big, strong, and intelligent black men like me are easily intimidating to whites. This book is a must for all African-Americans nationwide. Pick up this book and KNOW THYSELF. Peace.

5-0 out of 5 stars An execellent work
Over the years I have both read and heard many different theories about the racial and ethnic identity of the people that history refers to as the Moors. According to history, the Moors are the people who invaded and then occupied southern Spain for some 400 years and made their presence felt thoughout Europe. However, the historians who give us there theories on the racial and ethnic identity of the Moors give very little, and in many cases, no credible evidence at all to support them. In his book The Golden Age Of The Moor, Ivan Van Sertima takes an entirely different approach to identifing the Moors. He dosen't atempt to explain the theories of others nor does he offer a theory of his own. Instead Van Sertima presents a compilation of historical information taken from the museums of Europe that describe the Moors. In his book Van Sertima presents paintings, sculptures, coats of arms, and written records about the Moors, that date back to the period that the Moors were in Europe. Van Sertima's approach is based upon his premis that the most accurate information about the Moors would be the information recorded by the European historians and the European people that lived during the period of time that Moors were in Europe. I wholeheartly agree with Van Sertima. I feel that his book, The Golden Age Of The Moor is an excellent work, highly recomended for anyone looking for factual information on the racial and ethnic identity of the Moors. ... Read more

49. The Sufi Book of Life: 99 Pathways of the Heart for the Mondern Dervish
by Neil Douglas-Klotz
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.20
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Asin: 0142196355
Catlog: Book (2005-02-22)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 714370
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50. Understanding the Qur'an : Themes and Styles
by Muhammad Abdel Haleem
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 1860646506
Catlog: Book (2001-04-21)
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
Sales Rank: 234715
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The tenets of Islam cannot be grasped without a proper understanding of the Qur'an. In this book, Muhammad Abdel Haleem examines its recurrent themes and for the first time sets them in the context of the Qur'an's linguistic style. Haleem examines the background to the development of the surahs (chapters) and the ayahs (verses) and the construction of the Qur'an itself.
... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Covers Subjects Most Books Don't Even Mention
I have read several introductory and semi-advanced books on Islam, before and after becoming a Muslim myself. This book definitely rates as one of the best. I have read "The Vision of Islam" (by Murata & Chittick), "Approaching the Quran" (by Sells), and "What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims (by Haneef) among others, and this books stands out as the best. It puts to rest a lot of Western stereotypes about the Quran, especially about the Islamic concepts of War, Women, and Marriage. But the best and most unique parts of the book deal with the style of the Quran in Arabic, its expert use of future, past, and present tense, and the change in person (first, second, third) that is such a beautiful feature of the Quran. The book also compares the stories of Adam, Eve, and Joseph in the Quran and Bible in a most intelligent and sensitive way. I definitely recommend this book as it is also refreshing to read an introductory book on the Quran written by a Muslim.

5-0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT BOOK!

51. The Meccan Revelations
by Ibn Al'Arabi
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
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Asin: 1879708167
Catlog: Book (2002-10-01)
Publisher: Pir Press
Sales Rank: 71631
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Pioneer translations of Sheikh al Akbar's Futuhat
The Meccan Revelations: Selected texts from the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya Volume 1 by M. Ibn Arabi, edited by Michel Chodkiewicz, new introduction by James W. Morris, English translations by William Chittick and James W. Morris (Pir Press) Perhaps no mystic in the history of the world has delved as deeply into the inner knowledge that informs our being as did Ibn 'Arabi. He was born into the cultural and religious crucible of Andalusian Spain in 1165, a place and time in which Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars learned from each other and from the Greek classics that were then being translated and circulated. Drawing from the most advanced philosophical and metaphysical thinking of his time and from his extensive knowledge of the religion of Islam, Ibn Arabi created an extraordinary mystical theosophy that essentially sprang from his own spiritual realization into the divine unity of existence. Because of the advanced nature of his teachings, he has been known for 800 years as the Sheikh al Akbar, or the Greatest Master. Because of the subtlety of his language and complexity of his thought, access to Ibn Arabi has always been difficult and translation daunting. Previously only short extracts were available in English. This volume, the first of two, contains 22 key chapters of Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya, an encyclopedic Sufi "summa mystica," on such issues as Ibn Arabi's doctrine of the Divine Names, the nature of spiritual experience, the end of time, the resurrection and the stages of the path that lead to sanctity.
Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya soars beyond time, culture and any particular form of religion. Describing what is fundamental to our humanity, it is astonishingly universal. Finally, readers in the West have a pioneering entree into one of the most important, profound works of world literature.
Any work on the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya in English is provisional and exploratory and it will require several generations of scholars and some further development in philosophical hermeneutics before anything like a coordinated complete translation could yet be attempted. The importance of this work, and its future volume two that will include English translations of the French from the original 1988 French edition, is that it inaugurated the first systematic exploration in the West of this profound theosophical encyclopedia. As a result, the years since the first appearance of these translations have seen an ongoing worldwide transformation- in the Islamic world at least as much as in Western academic and spiritual circles in the understanding and appreciation of the nature and wider significance of Ibn 'Arabi's writings. When ibn 'Arabi's thought is more fully explored and more widely known its unique contribution to a future global religious plurality and harmony may become apparent. Ibn 'Arabi proposes unique formulations of divine reality which when understood in depth may radically transform world theological discourse, not only in Islam but also in liberal and conservative Christian and Jewish hermeneutics.
Pir Press is to be commended in re-issuing this important selection of chapters from the gargantuan Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya because the French edition of 1988 its size, cost and foreign publication made access difficult in the English speaking world from the start, soon became utterly difficult to get to due to problems at the original publishers. Generally, for the past decade, only those with ready contact to university libraries and Islamic research collections have been able to refer directly to these essential translations. The translators have gone on to provide significant studies and translations of ibn 'Arabi's work as Morris summarizes in his new introduction to this partial reprint edition. The second volume should include Chodkiewicz's original long Introduction to the key themes and opening chapters of the Al-Futuhat al-Makkiya, as well as outlines the contents and location, in the overall scheme of the Futuhat and translations of both the original French chapters. Highly recommended. ... Read more

52. Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth
by Henry Corbin
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 0691018839
Catlog: Book (1989-08-01)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 482998
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An analysis of interrelated themes in Iranian religion, including the angelology of Mazdaism and Islamic Shi'ite concepts of spirit-body identity. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and strange world.
It is very rare that one can read a religiously oriented book and end up with a feeling of respect and awe. The Shii/Sufi teachings are most fascinating. A wonderful book to read, to say the least. ... Read more

53. Qur'an Liberation and Pluralism
by Farid Esack
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
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Asin: 1851681213
Catlog: Book (1997-02-01)
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Sales Rank: 454862
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars This one will take some time to digest
The second chapter of this work is worth the twenty bucks you would pay for this alone. It deals with Qur'anic hermeneutics and the methods of approaching the text of the Qur'an. I hope and pray that Muslims engage more in this sort of study and less in the uncritical devotional material. That material creates an unreal sense of reality, and has cemented the development of religious studies in the Middle East. Farids approach is that of a scholar, and that is what we need. Beyond the maturity of the approach, Farid tackles a topic of interest to any progressive Muslim. The idea is, "How do we acknowledge the legitimacy of other faiths, and thereby, work with them against oppressive forces?" It may seem simple enough, but upon a brief reading of the Qur'an, we soon discover that this discourse is a bit complex. I must admit that I am writing this review before finishing the book, but the second chapter was worth the price of the book if you are interested in Qur'anic hermeneutics.

5-0 out of 5 stars You must read this one!
Unfortunately It is not often you are presented with a Muslim scholar who is as progressive, current and articulate as Dr. Farid Esack.

Everyone who sincerely believes in the concept of "Progressive Islam" or even is curious about the concept, as well as the practice, should read this one.

May feel a bit heavy at the begining, but Esack's intellect and his sense of humour will draw you in quickly. I highly recommend it. ... Read more

54. Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities
by Mark A., Ph.D. Gabriel, Mark Gabriel
list price: $13.99
our price: $10.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1591852919
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: Charisma House
Sales Rank: 32503
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Journey of Discovery
Dr. Mark Gabriel will take you on a journey of discovering Jesus and Muhammad in a way that few others can-as an insider, a believer, and a scholar of both faiths.

Born in Egypt, he grew up as a devout Muslim. He memorized the Quran, earned a Ph.D. in Islamic studies at Al Azhar University, and faithfully followed the laws of Islam. Yet the more he learned, the more disillusioned he became. He abandoned Islam at the age of 34.

After a year of searching for God, he opened a Bible for the first time one night. As he read the life of Jesus from the book of Matthew, he mind automatically compared it to the life of Muhammad. When morning came, he chose to follow Jesus. With the same zeal that he used to follow Muhammad, he has followed Jesus for the past 12 years, earning a Ph.D. in Christian education.

His perspectives on Jesus and Muhammad will give you new insight into these men. You will walk through their lives, discovering amazing similarities between their childhoods, their public ministry, and their teachings. At the same time, deep differences become obvious-in their attitudes toward people, their missions, and their views of God.

Rather than relying on secondary sources, Dr. Gabriel focuses on the core books of each religion--the Gospels of the New Testament, the Quran, and the correct books of hadith. Any reader can access this material in English and check the information for themselves.

In addition, Dr. Gabriel adds stories from his personal life about his experience of following Muhammad's example and then following Jesus. The result is a book that is both easy to read and profound. I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

55. The Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad
by Hal Lindsey
list price: $19.99
our price: $17.99
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Asin: 1931628157
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: Oracle House Publishing
Sales Rank: 29725
Average Customer Review: 3.35 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A Hatred That Lasted 4000 Years...

Best Selling author Hal Lindsey explains how, on September 11, an ancient fight-to-the-death conflict exploded on the shores of the U.S. Though most Americans didn't realize it, we were already involved in this struggle. A struggle driven by a hatred that goes back over 4000 years. Islamic fundamentalism's purpose is to replace the Judeo-Christian world order with an Islamic world order. Every American needs to understand the enormity of the threat we face -- and why.

In the aftermath of 9/11 most Americans are asking:

* Why do most Muslims hate Jews?
* Why do Islamic fundamentalists hate the United States and call it "The Great Satan?"
* Why did Islamic terrorists sacrifice their own lives to kill Americans?
* Do Islamic fundamentalists have access to weapons of mass destruction?
* Could Islamic terrorists imperil the survival of the United States?
* What light does Bible prophecy shed on this?
* Does the Koran call for violence and conquest?
* Are the Islamic fundamentalists an aberration of the Muslim religion, or are they - as they claim - the "True followers of Mohammad?"

This book will answer these questions with both Biblical and secular history. It will also bring new hope to the coming "perilous times." ... Read more

Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book Explains where the hate comes from.
In order to Understand the Hitler like hate many Muslims hold for the Israelis; we must understand there religion, there beliefs. How Lindsey does a great Job of tracing this "Everlasting Hatred" from Jacob and Essau (4000 years ago) to modern times. You cannot understand this hate unless you understand that the fact that Israel's existence, proves the Muslims religion to be incorrect and proves Mohammed to be a false Prophet. The Muslim's have only two choices, One; at all coast they must destroy Israel; or two; they can change there beliefs. Which do you think they will chose? And where will that choice Lead the world too? Read this book and You will get a better understanding of this insane hate and where it comes from. Lindsey also does a great job of tracing the history of the middle east (in a concise Way) and presents an interesting view of the Palestinians claims. This is a must read, for anyone who want's to understand the events that are unfolding beyond our very own eyes.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read for understanding the Middle east problem.
In order to Understand the Hitler like hate many Muslims hold for the Israelis; we must understand there religion, there beliefs. How Lindsey does a great Job of tracing this "Everlasting Hatred" from Jacob and Essau (4000 years ago) to modern times. You cannot understand this hate unless you understand that the fact that Israel's existence, proves the Muslims religion to be incorrect and proves Mohammed to be a false Prophet. The Muslim's have only two choices, One; at all coast they must destroy Israel; or two; they can change there beliefs. Which do you think they will chose? And where will that choice Lead the world too? Read this book and You will get a better understanding of this insane hate and where it comes from. Lindsey also does a great job of tracing the history of the middle east (in a concise Way) and presents an interesting view of the Palestinians claims. This is a must read, for anyone who want's to understand the events that are unfolding beyond our very own eyes.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Call For Rational Thought
Firstly, I would like to apologize for not reading this book before writing this text, however I believe that the main theme is conveyed quite effectively through the bookfs title and the emphatic reviews I have read on this page.
Secondly, I would like to state that I am a Muslim currently living in the U.S.
Before you immediately disregard this `review` or skip straight to the next one, based on the (inevitable) assumption that I will present a biased opinion, please consider that you owe it to yourself to briefly consider an alternative viewpoint before you decide that a sizable chunk of humanity `hates` you. I promise I will try to be as clear and concise as possible.
The reason that I did not wait until I had read the book before writing this comment is purely emotional. It saddens me greatly that the issue of faith has been distorted into an ugly instrument pitting individuals, peoples and nations against one another.
As I read the depictions of Muslims quoted from the book and in the reviews with increasing alarm and disbelief, I had to wonder if any of the authors had ever met a Muslim person. I came to the conclusion that they most probably had, at some point in their lives, run into a Muslim, but since they were not the maniacal knife wielding sociopaths that the author expected, they simply failed to register as such.
I was raised in a predominantly Islamic country, with a minority Christian population (about 85% to 15%) who have, as long as I or any living member of my family could remember have lived peacefully together. I went to a school where we were made to take the government approved religion classes ( a policy which Ifm not sure I fully approve of, but thatfs not the issue here) that to my young mind boiled down to basic ethics i.e. be good to your parents, considerate to your neighbors, kind to the poor, just with your children, etc. along with `the five pillars of Islam`.
I assure you that at no point did I have on my mind `black eyed virgins in heaven`, and as for the five pillars of Islam, they are simple, straightforward, and entirely benevolent (for the sake of brevity I will not list them, but please look them up on the net if you want to verify this). I was, as children are likely to be, more concerned with playing in the yard when class was done.
My best friend growing up, and to this day is Christian (he had to take Christian religion classes at school too). We do not avoid the question of religion and discuss it often, sometimes poking fun at each other, but for the most part earnestly seeking an understanding of each others basic beliefs (which by the way, more often than not are strikingly similar) He goes to mass every Sunday, and I go to the mosque every Friday, and neither of us expects the other to convert, but the fact that we can discuss such matters, respectfully with one another, has only strengthened our friendship over the years.
I am not a `one off` case. This attitude is mirrored in almost every Muslim I know.
And I promise, I do not mean to sound `holier than thou` (pun intended) but having lived in both countries for extended periods I can tell you that foreigners (who are automatically assumed to be Christian) are treated with a lot more respect, friendliness and tolerance than I can expect in the states.

I guess, what I want to say is that I do not `hate` you, and although I understand why many of you harbor such animosity to me, and people like me, I hope that you will realize that our faith(s) is being abused by fundamentalists on both sides of the fence fanning the flames of hatred in order to achieve their own motives.

It seems painfully obvious to me, but I find that I often have to state that the handful of fundamentalists committing horrible crimes in the name of religion are in no way representative of the vast majority of Muslims. I must also point out that atrocities committed in the name of religion are by no means limited to a single faith, and that if we were to judge people based on actions performed in their name, then the entire world would be guilty.

Now, more than ever, you have the resources to verify all the contradicting claims being flung about the airwaves and on the pages of books. Donft take their word for it; donft take my word for it. Do a little digging on the net, beyond the major media outlets, or even (gasp!) try and find a Muslim and talk to him/her (they wonft bite, I promise) and make up your own mind.

You are an intelligent human being. Please think these things through before you take a position as an individual, and not as a statistic being swayed by media organizations of dubious/uncertain economic and political motives.

It doesnft feel very pleasant to hate or be hated. It would be a shame if you were doing it for the wrong reasons.

Thank you for sticking with me this far. I hope I have not taken too much of your time.

A Muslim from Egypt

1-0 out of 5 stars TRASH
I don't really know how I should start - maybe I should start by saying that I'm a Muslim or maybe I should start with how this author is trying to spread his prejiduc..
To tell you the truth muslim do not hate jews or christians - we have religous tolerance but I don't know what to say about this piece of work..
A lot of people rated this book as a 5 star book.. and I respect their opinion - but muslim are not power corrupted, and what this author is trying to do is spread this hate - which to me is like a cancer because he has judged this race of people based on their belifs - I can tell you now I have not read this book and I don't plan to.. some of the questions mentioned in the amazon reviews are absurd - besides that no one really knows who really terrorized the country on sep. 11th
While reading a review I read something so very absurd I couldn't belive what I have just read - the fact that muslims result to war as a way to gain power or something of that nature - it's either that or change our belifs - I have no idea if that was in the book, but to be honest did any of the people who support the book ever watch the news?? did anyone see a muslim from palistine hold a gun and just shooting?? the arabs there are being terrorized in homes, at school, on the streets... the list goes on but they have to result to using stones as self defence - how very power corrupted they are - huh?

I have also read that some people think that we hate the united states when thats not true - I'm from a small country but we do have T.V.s - malls... anyway on t.v. we see actions and such that we do not support but that does nbot mean we hate - to hate an indivitual is to mean u hate a person for who he is but unless we meet everyone in the u.s. we can not form an opinion - it is actually the complete opposite i know some people who want to go to the states for college and everything but they can't because of the hate we think everyone there fosters for us and we have no idea why - but I guess I know now..

1-0 out of 5 stars A ridiculous, hateful and missinformed piece of garbage.
Anyone who is not a complete idiot or blinded by their own religious allegiances knows that the reasons Arabs despise the United States are our ridiculous foreign policies and unabashed imperialism.

To suggest that Islam is concerned with the destruction of Christianity and Judaism is complete nonsese. One quick look at the historical record should prove to even the most ardent Lindsey supporter that he is utterly wrong. ... Read more

56. Travellers in Faith: Studies of the Tablighi Jama at As a Transnational Islamic Movement for Faith Renewal (Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia)
list price: $106.00
our price: $106.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9004116222
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers
Sales Rank: 676697
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57. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (Galaxy Book, 409)
by William Montgomery Watt
list price: $15.95
our price: $15.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0198810784
Catlog: Book (1974-06-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 125318
Average Customer Review: 3.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A short account of the life and achievements of one of the great figures of history, this volume also serves as an excellent introduction to one of the world's major religions. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent shorter scholarly biography
Most readers probably won't have the patience to slog through Watt's two bigger volumes, Muhammad At Mecca and Muhammad At Medina. This slimbooks is a good compromise, and an excellent introduction to Western scholarship on the subject. Unlike later, more radical historians like Wansbrough and Crone, Watt sifts through the early Muslim accounts and accepts most of them as being historically reliable.

1-0 out of 5 stars awful
this book is providing unneccesary info about islam that is false and very unacceptable.. especially page 17 when he writes
"The modern Westerner has no difficulty in showing how Muhammad may have been mistaken." it is
and totally not reflecting history but showing a great deal of propaganda..

5-0 out of 5 stars *The* Portrait of Muhammad
If you're looking to gain an understanding of the life of Muhammad, grab this book. Watt presents a prose description of Muhammad's life, backed by sound and comprehensive study. It is actually enjoyable reading, almost like a story, yet completely historically accurate. (Or as much as we can be.) Watt does not make either extreme mistake of simply accepting the traditions of the Hadith or the Qur'an as absolute truth; or of looking only at Western denigrations of Islam. Rather, he appears to recognize historical truths in the Qur'anic traditions, and in Western and Eastern scholarship. If you've been trying to learn about Islam and have spent time looking over the Qur'an, this is *the* book to turn to get that background on Muhammad and "flesh" him out. Watt shows a human, beyond the traditions and myths, that changed his world, and then the rest of the planet. ... Read more

58. Islam,: The Straight Path
by John L. Esposito
list price: $31.95
our price: $31.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195112342
Catlog: Book (1997-11-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 46274
Average Customer Review: 3.79 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Iranian revolution, the Lebanese and Afghan civil wars, the assassination of Egypt's Anwar Sadat, the Gulf War--these crises have dominated the headlines and global politics, yet few of us know anything about Islam, the faith of the people and nations of the world's second largest religion. Islam and Muslims have often been viewed through a series of stereotypes--as fundamentalists, extremists, radicals--which distort our understanding of the faith of its one billion followers, who span the globe from Africa to Asia, from the United States to the Soviet Union.Now John L. Esposito offers a timely revised edition of Islam, his widely acclaimed guide to Islamic history, faith, culture, and politics.

In Islam, Esposito provides a succinct, up-to-date survey of the Islamic experience, an introduction to the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from its origins to its contemporary resurgence.He traces the emergence and development of this dynamic faith and its impact on world history and politics.He discusses the formation of Islamic belief and practice (law, theology, philosophy, and mysticism), chronicling the struggle of Muslims to define and adhere to their Islamic way of life. Equally important is the essential information Esposito provides on the contemporary world of Islam, from Muslim responses to the challenges of colonialism and modernization to the reassertion of Islam in politics and society.

With years of teaching and traveling in the Islamic world, Esposito offers an inside understanding of Muslim faith and thought. Lucidly written and expansive in scope, this new edition of a volume highly respected in both the West and the Islamic world provides keen insight into one of the world's least understood religions. ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Introductory Text on Islam
This book is by far the best introductory text on Islam that I have encountered. The important thing to keep in mind is that it is an introductory text, and its function as such should be kept in mind. The book provides an excellent overview, broken down into 6 different issues/subjects of the Islamic world, and the text is further broken down into clearly delineated and manageable chunks, just as an introductory text should be. Especially good is the elegant and concise way in which the history of the beginnings of Islam are laid out. Perhaps less strong is some of the discussion of the different ways that Muslims have approached the issue of reforming Islam, which I found to be repetitive and vague at the same time.
One person was disappointed that the author often mentions a lot of names and concepts, and then doesn't describe them much. Well, that is the PURPOSE of an introductory text, to introduce people to ideas that they can then pursue further in specialized texts if they are interested. Similary, why would one expect to find information on minority non-Islam religious groups or the African slave trade in a book about Islam? The former would be found in a comparitive religion text, the latter, perhaps in a history of Islamic people, but not an introductory text on Islam.

4-0 out of 5 stars Islam
The Straight Path is a straightforward and accessible historical introduction to Islam theology, politics, and law. John Esposito, the author, begins with Muhammad and the Quran, basic Islamic dogma, and the creation of the Islamic community. He then sketches the history of the Islamic world in the medieval period, covering the Umayyads, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Crusades and the later Islamic empires, which are Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. Some of the divisions within Islam are the Sunni/Shia spilt, the Ismailis, the Druze and the diversity of its mystical and legal traditions.
Next, Esposito explains Islamic theology and law in depth. Medieval theological conflicts centered on the relationship of faith, the status of grave sinners, and the connection between the absolute power of God and human free will. An essential figure was the tenth century synthesizer al-Ashari, whose followers became the leaders of the dominant school of Sunni theology. The five pillars of Islam are the professions of faith, prayer, almsgiving, the Ramadan fast and Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, Esposito also touches on family law - divorce and inheritance, the relation between customary practice and Quranic prescription by showing the rules about veiling and seclusion, Sufism and Shia differences.
With its primarily historic approach, The Straight Path only succeeds to give a feel for the role Islam plays in the lives of particular believers. Overall, The Straight Path works well, giving a moral feel for Islam's ancient depth and geographical reach.

1-0 out of 5 stars Glaring omissions
The author omits any discussion of the Islamic slave trade which kidnapped 11 million Black Africans from their homes between 700 A.D. and 1900. Europeans coming to Africa in 1600's to purchase slaves found a fully developed Islamic slave trade.
Males slaves were castrated and forced into military service, female slaves became household servants and concubines. Mohammed left many detailed instructions to SLAVEHOLDERS>
Also omitted is any extensive discussion of the prohibition of "innovation" which has so badly crippled Islamic intellectual life. Muslim "scholars" met in the 1100's and decided that all the important questions had been asked and answered, after this conference, any innovation was considered "bidna" or forbidden.
This static mind set accounts for much of the woes of the islamic world.
Lastly the author fails to point out that the Islamic world has actually regressed economically since the end of Western colonialism. A comparison of former colonies, such as India, Singapore and Hong Kong shows that much progress can be made by former colonies and colonialism need not doom a people to failure forever.
None of these difficult problem is tackled by this semi-apologetic tome.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good history, but analysis not very incisive.
Esposito is a scholar, as his other books show (Oxford History of Islam, The Islamic Threat, Myth or Reality). His writing is readable and clear, his thoughts well organized. This book does a good job presenting Islam's history, as history goes.

However, his analysis of Islam as a politico-religious system is inadequate. The book neglects virtually all of Islam's main characteristics, suggesting that it is only a matter of interpretation. Yet, in the case of Islam, this would be a huge leap. Thus, one is left with the feeling that much has been avoided. Some examples:

Why can anyone demand "holy war" (e.g., Osama bin Laden, but also others)?
Why was the name "Pakistan" chosen for the new nation (it literally means "land of the pure")?
How can it be either "good government OR "holy" to cripple people through amputations?
Why do women wear long coats buttoned to their necks in scorching weather, while men wear short sleeves? (See "Honeymoon in Purdah" by Alison Wearing)
Why are women solely responsible for controlling men's lust?
Why does the Islamic paradise promise virgins to men while their wives sit there watching?
How can women accept this abject treatment and think that they are good role models?
Why does eating pork (most of the world) send one to hell? What kind of God would care?

Finally, why do Muslims close their eyes and ears to any criticism of their practices?

How this "straight path" leads to heaven is lost on me. Forgiveness is secondary to Jihad. Death is better than Life. Paradise consists of all that is forbidden on earth. Women are only half-human. Charity is a tax. What merciful, compassionate God would demand such harsh or irrational practices of its adherents? None of this is discussed in the book.

Esposito whitewashes this pitiless ideology by saying he has met many wonderful Muslims. Of course many Muslims are wonderful people. This argument is irrelevant to the meaning of an ideology. Read this book if a brief history is what you want. Don't read it to understand either its tenets or its politics.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but disappointing
This book came highly recommended to me in understanding the basics of Islam. Although I DID gain some understanding, I found it too dry. It did not fire my imagination and I got the creeping sensation that Mr. Esposito was an apologist more than shedding light on this complex religion. He does not provide enough concrete examples behind his theories and I was left to wander what he meant by several of his observations. I suppose this book might be required reading in a college course on Islam but it left me dry. ... Read more

59. Dictionary of the Holy Quran, Second Edition
by Abdul Omar Mannan, Abdul Mannan Omar
list price: $20.00
our price: $17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0963206788
Catlog: Book (2003-05)
Publisher: Noor Foundation-Intl
Sales Rank: 182592
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First edition of this Dictionary has been sold out!
This is the 2nd reprint of this valuable historical work published in July of 2004
... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars First time in History. One of a kind.
(Arabic Words-English meanings)

By: Abdul Mannan Omar (son of Maulana Noor Ud Din).
(Translator of The Holy Quran; Arabic-English. Editor, Encyclopedia of Islam; 22 volumes)
Total number of pages: 1010.

1- Easy to find and ascertain the real, classical, and root meaning of all the Quranic Words.

2- All root-words of the Holy Quran with their derivatives have been included in it.

3- Efforts have been made to highlight various shades of meaning.

4- Two indexes have been provided: Index #1- The Quranic Words. Each Quranic
word is ALPHABETICALLY arranged (according to the Arabic alphabets), with the cross reference to the basic 'root-words'. (This Index # 1 is helpful for the beginners).
Index # 2 - Basic Quranic Root-words. All the Quranic basic
'root-words' arranged alphabetically (according to the Arabic alphabets).

5- Authentic and Comprehensive. The etymology, the function, and wherever applicable the abbreviations are also given from the most authentic sources, with explanatory notes, grammatical comments, and examples in phrase and poetry.

6- Classical Arabic Dictionaries combined in one. Some of the
classical dictionaries used: Al-Mufradat fi Gharib Al-Quran by Abdul Qasim al-Husain al-Raghib; Lisan al-Arab by Jamal al-Din Abu al-Fadzl Muhmmad bin Mukarram bin Manzur; Taj al-Arus min Jawahir al Qamus by Muhammad al Murtadza
Husaini; The Arabic English Lexicon by Edward W. Lane etc.

7- Appendices: Appendix # 1- An Overview of the Dictionary. This has number of articles. Appendix # 2- System of Punctuation. Appendix # 3- System of Transliteration of the Arabic Words.

8- Deluxe gift edition: Silver page edges. Leather-flex binding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Scholarly-Work
A very timely masterpiece. Unique scholarly contribution.
Most comprehensive work on the topic.
Classical Arabic dictionaries have been put together in one place. It is very ease to use.
This new dictionary will go a long way to study the indepth meanings of the Holy Quran.
I Strongly recommend it to all students of Islam and the Holy Quran. ... Read more

60. The Illuminated Prayer : The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis
list price: $20.00
our price: $20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345435451
Catlog: Book (2000-01-25)
Publisher: Wellspring/Ballantine
Sales Rank: 153554
Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Prayer is a drawing of the curtain, an invitation to a secret place that is discovered and explored. . . .

According to tradition and the testimony of Sufi mystics, The Prayer--or Salat--was first taught by the angels, who themselves practiced it in celestial adoration. The Prayer is God's gift to all humankind, and in this gorgeously illustrated volume, its simple, archetypal practice unfolds like a fragrant, many-petaled flower, joining words and movements into a single luminous event that engages our entire being.

These ancient rituals are presented here as a gift for anyone with a heartfelt desire to set aside for a moment the concerns of every day and enter a sacred time and space in which to explore the beckonings of the spirit. The authors take us through the words, movements, and hidden meanings of the Call to Prayer, the Ablutions, The Prayer itself, and the Peaceful Embrace afterwards. Faithful practice lends a sacred rhythm to each day and creates a psychological force that helps us nurture and express a profound inner harmony.

This first, marvelously accessible interpretation of The Prayer also offers a compelling introductin to the wisdom and teachings of the beloved contemporary Sufi master Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who brought new life to this mystical tradition by opening a passage to its deepest, universal realities. It is the loving handiwork of two of Bawa's best-known students, Coleman Barks and Michael Green, who also created The Illuminated Rumi.

Like a jewel given extra brilliance by its setting, The Prayer is surrounded by the wisdom and understanding of the thirteenth-century Sufi master Rumi, whose generous poetry has become an essential canon for modern-day seekers in the West. The final gift is the Primeval Kalima, the core practice and most profound teaching of the Sufi, the "open secret" that leads to Divine Luminous Wisdom.
... Read more

Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars A book I wanted to like but . . .
I am generally a fan of Coleman Barks work; this book, however, was a disappointment. The jacket cover says of Michael Green "is working to create a new kind of sacred art for our time." This is an accurate description - he is still "working" with some successes and some failures. The net result is that pursuing the volume's art, one is encouraged to explore further.

Coleman Barks' text interweaves Jellaludin Rumi, who is translated well, with Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a contemporary Sufi teacher. Unfortunately, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen does not fare well in the comparison. Bark's descriptions of personal experience and renderings of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen evoke thoughts of many of the South Asian "mystics" who arrived in the US in the late 60's and early 70's. While there are teachers who impress me in under 16 pages, this teacher leaves me unimpressed in 140.

This book does have value in its explanation of the ritual prayer of the Muslim Sufi. It deals well with the relationship between the physical and mental aspects of prayer. It raises some interesting questions regarding the relationship of revealed scripture (the Koran) and the interpretation of the scripture, especially mystical meaning.

The net result is a book that is interesting reading for the insights into the followers of a particular teacher, one easily representative of a class of teachers. It shows both the spiritual needs and the "leaps of faith" taken to fill those needs. In that, Coleman Barks has performed a service for us.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enter this sacred space
This is definitely one of the best books on Salat that I have ever seen. I read it cover to cover without setting it down. Barks and Green have put together some of the most beautiful images with some of the most beautiful words and come through keeping all the sacredness of the prayers. They cover all the essentials of the Muslim prayers, explaining in very accessible terms the hows of what to do. But more than that, they also make the prayer palpable to even those that may never have done it. By combining art and the poetry of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi they create the atmosphere of the connection with God that one feels during the deepest salat.

I think that almost anyone, after reading this book will at least want to try out salat for a few days. Maybe even make a strong comitment to doing it for a long time. But even if not, after reading this book, more people will understand the heart of Islam, the prayer we repeat at least 5 times every day and what really is going on inside, what depth of feeling is during this prayer.

Recomended without reservation to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
In "Conference of the Books, A Search for Beauty in Islam" Author and Scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl vexes over the lack of beauty in contemporary Islamic expression. He has some very interesting points. Points that I recalled upon my exposure to Michael Green's beautiful and meaningful paintings. While the Shia community produces an enormous treasury of artwork, highly expressive with spiritual tones to it, the Sunni community remains stagnant and stoic. There is a suffocation of creative activity in Islam for a number of reasons. Most of all is that there is an extreme conservatism amongst the practicing Muslims in the Sunni tradition which makes anything beyond intricate calligraphy a sinful act. They cite some odd reports, attributed to the Prophet, which seem to restrict personal expression and the making of images. This position is bizarre because, using the basic logic of Islamic jurisprudence, if there is not a harm in people worshiping those images, then its nature is purity and permissibility. I don't know... It sounds goofy, but Im certain the conservatives would claim that images have an inherent "evil" in them that forces people to recognize them as deities... Anyway, as you may have guessed, this title explores some of the meanings of the salah prayers as understood by Coleman Barks. Barks, a student of Bawa Muhaiyadden, and a devotee of Rumi has translated Rumi's poetry into an interesting manual of spirituality. I enjoyed the insights and the artwork in this. Michael Green certainly has a gift. I hope to see more like this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sublime !
I have read quite a number of books on Sufism. This is the best and most beautiful introduction among all.

It covers both Islam and its innermost meaning, the Sufi way: its mystic nondual devotional realization.

It deserves 10 stars. Is not only introductory and easy to read, but also deeply profound and universal. It really goes beyond any kind of narrowness that it's so easy to associate with Islam or with any religious establishment in general.

La illaha il Allahu. There's only God.
And this book is a wonderful portal to that truth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Upward Refinements
Personally I found this book sublime and uplifting, an indispensable companion for the western muslim/sufi.

Salat is an open barzakh(bridge)between oneself and ones Lord.

Additionally the book is an uplifting, introduction to the Islamic practice of prayer and the sublime concept of Allah, (exalted be His name) held by the awilya and sadiqun. ... Read more

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