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Islam: A Short History

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

OUTSTANDING PIECE OF LITERATURE

This book shows in basic English the principles of Islam and it's importance in the lifes of Muslims. It explains the purity of Islam.

posted by Anonymous on March 14, 2002

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Weak and glossy

As a former nun who rejects the Christian theology of Trinity, Karen Armstrong eagerly embraces Islam's monotheism, universalism and charity. But you won't find an open discussion of the faith or its history here. Islam means submission, which Armstrong fails to cover. ...
As a former nun who rejects the Christian theology of Trinity, Karen Armstrong eagerly embraces Islam's monotheism, universalism and charity. But you won't find an open discussion of the faith or its history here. Islam means submission, which Armstrong fails to cover. She glosses over the early Islamic massacres of infidels, as if they did not occur. Nor does she deal with Islam's historic persecution of other peoples, including Zoroastrians, Ba'hai, Hindus, Coptic Christians, Sudanese Christians and Middle Eastern Jews. The chauvinism of Mecca, a city closed to all but Muslims, is similarly avoided in this (mercifully) brief, overly sugared pabulum. For brief lessons on the faith, try the Internet writings of moderate Muslim believers like the Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, who heads Italy's Muslim community. He shares the rich beauties of the faith and discusses meanings of key passages in the Qu'ran and Hadith--as well as the interpretation of Islam by the rigid Wahabhi sect that governs Saudi Arabia and controls most mosques in the west. For history, try Bernard Lewis--revered by, Western, Arab and Muslim scholars alike. I recommend Islam in History; Islam and the West and The Muslim Discovery of Europe. To understand Islam's political effect on other peoples, try Bat Ye'or's The Dhimmi or The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, covering the 7th through 12th centuries. But skip Karen Armstrong. --Alyssa A. Lappen

posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2006

    What can a former Catholic Nun tell you about Islam?

    Plenty, but, if you are looking for understanding the essences and deeper meaning of the teachings of this major monotheistic world religion, Islam: A Short History by renown religious scholar Karen Armstrong, this is not the book. What Ms. Armstrong does do is give the reader a synopsis of historical events during Islam¿s growth during the first millennium. From the beginning, the author sets the stage that the Islamic outlook on life is not separated by events and/or exclusive reactions per event but that life events are all spiritual in nature. Wars, pandemics and epidemics, environmental changes, economies, social and political challenges¿ are all part of humanity¿s earthly experience controlled by God Almighty (Allah, from the root Arabic word ilah, meaning The God.) The knowledgeable Muslim understanding this Islamic philosophy understands that mankind is challenged to deal justly, humanely, kindly, and uprightly with each event that comes before them collectively and individually. Islamic philosophy and its body of ethics do not take the stand of secular and religious separation in decision making, as are the theories and philosophies of the West. In the body of Islamic thought, God is the sovereign and humankind more or less is appointed viceroy in handling earthly affairs. It is worth noting that the author points-out that if the individual Muslim is not content with appointed leaders to see to the affairs of the community or the state, locally or internationally, then the individual is obligated to oppose those leaders or that leaders decisions that do not live up to the Islamic idea. Sounds like a democratic model to me, created over a thousand years before the American constitution was signed. Regardless, Ms. Armstrong clearly lays out for the reader that Muslim leaders throughout the last fourteen hundred years have not been without their flaws and failings, after all, they are human and men whose interpretation of Islamic Law, and consulting with statesmen and religious leaders have not always led to the best decisions being made for defending against oppression and attempts of genocide against the early Muslim community by unified tribes in Arabia, foreign invasions during the crusades, imperial expansionism of the Mongols, civil wars, and differences on political and leadership issues. Reading Islam: A Short History, one realizes that Islam is not just a religion but as Y. A. Al-Qaradawi a professor at the University of Qatar puts it, ¿¿there is more than one way of life.¿

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    If you want a brief introduction to the history of Islam, this i

    If you want a brief introduction to the history of Islam, this is your book (it's called "A Short History" for a reason). Karen Armstrong is a fairly good writer, easy to follow, but her biases are sometimes apparent. She does, however, make some effort to address the negative as well as the positive. No, it didn't answer all my questions about Islam (what 272 page book could?), but it gave me somewhere to start. I'll be perusing her reference list and expanding my reading from there.

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