Islam

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From angry street demonstrations in the Middle East to the terrorism of Osama bin Laden, the news is filled with images of Islam as a militant and rabidly anti-American religion. Now, in this lavishly illustrated volume, Mathew Gordon offers a different view, in a clear and informative guide to virtually every aspect of Islam.
Gordon begins with a historical overview of Islam, from the divine revelations Muhammad received in Mecca to the triumphant rule of the Caliphs. He ...
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Overview


From angry street demonstrations in the Middle East to the terrorism of Osama bin Laden, the news is filled with images of Islam as a militant and rabidly anti-American religion. Now, in this lavishly illustrated volume, Mathew Gordon offers a different view, in a clear and informative guide to virtually every aspect of Islam.
Gordon begins with a historical overview of Islam, from the divine revelations Muhammad received in Mecca to the triumphant rule of the Caliphs. He illuminates the central features of Islam, from the structure and teachings of the Koran, to the Sharia (the intricate and subtle web of legal teachings), to the duties of worship (the profession of faith, the daily cycle of prayer, alms-giving, the Ramadan fast, and the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). The book offers lucid and insightful discussions of the different branches of Islam, such as the Shii (also called Shia or Shiite), the Ismaili, and the mystic traditions of Sufism. In addition, he explains the importance of divinely inspired figures, or Imams, in Shiism; includes sidebars on such things as Islamic literature and art; and offers boxed features on topics such as the Hajj, the historical place of conquered non-Muslims in the Arab Islamic empire. Gordon also addresses the role of women in Islamic societies, the many political crosscurrents, and much more.
Islam has spread around the world--from the Philippines to Pakistan, and from Albania to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. This clear, honest, and respectful guide, featuring dozens of striking color photographs, clears away the misconceptions and reveals Islam's true beauty and power.

An overview of Islam chronicling the religion's impact historically and in the modern world and discussing its origins, basic beliefs, structure, places of worship, and rites of passage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A well-organized and attractively designed introduction to Islam.... Given their brevity, Gordon's discussions of Sufism, differences in Sunni and Shii belief and practice, the Muslim calendar, and how Muslims view the soul's transition to the afterlife are particularly nuanced. Giving visual force to the themes are beautiful color photos of historic architecture, calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, ritual prayer, and Qur'anic classrooms."--Choice

"An accessible, well-written and even-handed introduction to Islam, one of the world's fastest-growing religions. The book is enhanced by well-chosen, full-color photographs and illustrations. Overall, this is a handy, informed and attractive primer."--Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Gordon provides an accessible, well-written and evenhanded introduction to Islam, one of the world's fastest-growing religions. In brief chapters, he discusses the rise of Islam; the centrality of its sacred text, the Qur'an; the importance of the Prophet Muhammad; the major developments of both Sunni and Shi'i Islam (including "sub-sects" of both traditions); the ethical principles and "Five Pillars" of the faith; the role of the mosque and of sacred sites such as Mecca; the concept of sacred time and the Islamic lunar calendar; Muslims' beliefs about death and the afterlife; and Islam in the modern world. Throughout, Gordon provides a balanced approach, noting, for example, that the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1990 fatwah against novelist Salman Rushdie was opposed by many Islamic scholars and that the religion is "far from monolithic" in its laws or practices. Each chapter closes with an excerpt from some primary source for example, the opening verses of the Qur'an or an Urdu poem praising Muhammad and then interprets that passage with a brief commentary. These bite-sized chunks of original source material go a long way toward helping readers become familiar with Islam's historical and literary traditions. The book is enhanced by well-chosen, full-color photographs and illustrations, which are so animated that they seem to invite readers to contemplate the interior of a mosque, or to participate in a schoolroom discussion with British Muslim girls. Overall, this is a handy, informed and attractive primer. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA - Karen Sykeny
This series looks at the history and origin, fundamental beliefs, population of followers, geographical spread, cultural contribution, rituals and ceremonies, sacred sites, and current activities of almost all the world religions. The two titles reviewed here are Baha'i' Faith and Islam .Some other titles in this series include African Religions, Native American Religions, and Shinto, Sikhism, and Taoism, along with books on the major world religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Catholicism. Baha'i' Faith has a nice general overview, history, scripture excerpts, and interesting items such as biographical information on the two founding teachers and the fact that Baha'i' scriptures have been translated into 802 languages. Islam has an introduction to the modern Islamic world and sections on the prophet Muhammad; its spread; scripture excerpts and discussion on the Koran, Hadith, and Law; and the rituals and patterns of Muslim life. Each series entry has an excellent map showing the population worldwide and the geographic spread of the religion. The text is well organized with easy-to-understand language with new terms defined for readers. It is well suited for teen readers in seventh grade and up as well as for adults wishing succinct, accurate information on the religion discussed. Black-and-white photographs accent and break up blocks of text, making for engaging reading. This series is well researched and organized and should be a mandatory purchase for all public libraries that support middle and high school curriculum and want a well-balanced world religion collection.
VOYA - Shari Fesko
World religions is a topic often discussed on the news and in the classroom so this new series should be a welcome addition to the sources already out there. Each volume covers an individual religion in clear, concise language that will be easy for older elementary students to grasp and still be informative enough for both middle and high school students. The books each contain nine chapters, which cover everything from the history of the particular religion to the main religious texts. The volume about Islam takes very complex religious ideas and simplifies them for those who are not religious scholars. The careful description of the Quran is enlightening and understandable. The incredible full-color photos throughout complement the factual text and add interest. Each chapter also includes an additional section titled Extract and Commentary that takes the information and distills it down to two pages to assist the reader in reviewing what they have just read. The back matter, including an easy to use alphabetical index, will make this series a favorite of teachers, students and librarians alike. Reviewer: Shari Fesko
Library Journal
These two introductory texts are similar both in format they are short, visually appealing, and have a small trim size and in arrangement, with chapters including "Origins and Historical Development," "Sacred Persons," "Ethical Principles," "Sacred Time," "Death and After Life," and "Society and Religion." Chapters conclude with a one-page excerpt and commentary from a sacred or historical book. Littleton (Eastern Wisdom) and Gordon (The Breaking of a Thousand Swords) provide clear and informative explanations about Shinto and Islam, respectively, as they develop and balance themes of religion, history, society, and modernity within their discussions. In discussing Shinto, a significant religion in Japan, Littleton focuses on deities and spirits, shrines, and the ways Buddhism and Christianity have influenced Shintoism. He frequently cites Ryusaku Tsunoda's Sources of Japanese Traditions (1958), along with more recent sources. The several themes Gordon develops in his introduction to Islam include Hadith, or stories regarding the life, teachings, and actions of Muhammad; and Sharia, or ways divine will is portrayed in Islamic sacred law, Hadith, and the Quran. Libraries may already be well stocked with introductions to Islam by such authors as Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, but these useful works are unique in providing an introduction to their respective religions without trying to explain too much. These books can either stand alone or supplement a larger collection. Appropriate for academic and public libraries, especially where there is interest and existing religion collections. Naomi Hafter, Baltimore Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–Thorough research and concise writing brand this series. Each volume discusses origins and historical development; aspects of the divine; sacred texts, persons, space, and time; ethical principles; death and the afterlife; and society and religion. Each chapter includes an extract from a sacred text followed by analysis and commentary. Terms and ideas that are unique to the religion are explained clearly within context. These slim, attractive titles are sparsely but well illustrated with high-quality reproductions of paintings and photographs that support the adjacent text. There is enough substance here to make this series a key resource for reports. “Understanding Religions” is similar in scope to “Religions of the World” (Lucent, 2002), but the format here is more colorful and attractive, and has more illustrations.
Booknews
This is a book for young adults. The cataloging-in-publication reads, in part, "Summary: An overview of Islam chronicling the religion's impact historically and in the modern world and discussing its origin, basic beliefs, structure, places of worship, and rites of passage." Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195218855
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 116
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew S. Gordon is Assistant Professor of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He is the co-editor of Islam and Franco-Arab Encounters.

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