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Islam: A Short History
     

Islam: A Short History

3.5 44
by Karen Armstrong
 

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No religion in the modern world is as feared and misunderstood as Islam. It haunts the popular imagination as an extreme faith that promotes terrorism, authoritarian government, female oppression, and civil war. In a vital revision of this narrow view of Islam and a distillation of years of thinking and writing about the subject, Karen Armstrong’s short

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Islam 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
The excellent start of this book gives a perspective on the development of Islam and the events early Mulsims endured. The latter chapters, however, speed along and the parts pertaining to modern times are not as good as the historical perspective. I would recommend it to readers looking for a historical survey of early Islam.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a great buy. Highly recommended for the curious and the hurried who do not have alot of time to spend, yet want to get to know more about the islamic religion as well as the culture. Although, I do wish it shed some more light on how this widely misunderstood culture came to be our main link between the renaissance and the lost ancient roman and greek knowledgebase (the section on Anadolosia (i.e. islamic spain) was rather weak. Nevertheless, there is only so much you can cover in one book for a period of 1500 years of history.
Habibisir More than 1 year ago
Well written books, very recommended to anybody who always blames Islam as Bad entity. Karen Armstrong has given an alternative views on Islam, which Moslem itself cannot explain as good as him.
BitterCynic More than 1 year ago
The history and nature of Islam is one of the most relevant and important subjects today, one I'd been meaning to tackle but I was overwhelmed by the immensity of the subject matter. This book does a wonderful job of not only narrating the pivotal events of Islamic history, but placing it in a context that makes sense of current events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very informative, well-balanced, easy to read history of Islam and the clash between culture and religion that has been going on for centuries, whether it be Christian, Jew or Islam. We need to read this for a balanced view of world events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Islam a Short History After reading this book I can see where a way was needed for an individual from the Arab perspective could draw closer to God. This book gives a clearer look and a good understanding into the Islamic religion. I see a people who have struggled with old religious ways and practices. To move from old practices, a direction must come from a place that gives deeper insight and simplifies the path to go. Karen Armstrong lets the reader see the contrast between the Arabs the Muslims, the past and future for the Arab people. This book deals with the things needed to find the answers for those that seek it. Karen Armstrong allows the reader to take a glance at the interworkings and development of Islam. It is said that to change the old religious ways can sometimes complicate life in a dramatic fashion. To know that God has not forgotten or cast you aside can be very liberating, but everyone does not accept change. Teachings and texts were provided and leadership was established. A war was coming, and this war would make individuals question that very foundation that they believed to be from God. Arab and Muslim leaders from both sides struggle to find common ground during the early infancy of Islam. We must understand that religious and political views were heavily involved in this contention. When moving forward for the better every side will not be satisfied or happy if things do not go in their favor; however, to give life sometimes pain is involved. I give these people a great deal of credit. Through the early years things were not going so well. Karen Armstrong allows the reader to travel from the past to the present. She discusses the Seljuk, Moghul, and Ottoman Empire. Mrs. Armstrong discusses and in book about the political struggles between the different empires. The development of the Shii empire caused the difference of opinion between Sunnis and Shii's. I think Karen Armstrong does a magnificent job relating the beginning, development, and Islamic victories in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Kneedriver More than 1 year ago
Ignore the haters in this list of sad diatribes below. Karen Armstrong does a marvelous job of explaining the history and context of the birth of Islam without the unfortunate negative emotional bias found in many currently available books. This is a great primer for understanding why and how Islam arose in Arabia when it did, and how it changed, in a positive way, the Arab social structure in the 7th century. Armstrong has the advantage of a background in comparative religions and history, which is what makes her exploration of this topic so rich and so easy to understand. Buy it, and leave the mean-spirited stuff on the shelf for the ignorant to consume.
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