Islam: A Brief History / Edition 2

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Few subjects have gripped the Western world in the twenty-first century to the same degree as Islam, yet it remains widely misunderstood. This second edition of Islam: A Brief History is the ideal introduction, offering readers a concise yet thoroughly absorbing account of a faith that is shared by more than a billion people today.

Beginning with an account of the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islamic ideals, the book spans Islam's phenomenal geographical expansion and cultural development, right up to the creation of modern states and the current situation in Islamic societies. Reflecting recent global developments, the second edition expands its coverage of the Qur'an, Sufism, and Muslim views on human rights, including the rights of women. It also includes fascinating vignettes of Islamic life, increasing its representation of mainstream Muslim viewpoints on issues of global concern. The book's accessible structure and Tamara Sonn's lively writing style illuminate the complex interrelationships of cultural, political, and ideological developments woven throughout Islamic history. Timely and concise, Islam: A Brief History is an indispensable introduction to Islam and its role in today's global society.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Sonn provides a significant new analysis of the range of contemporary Muslim thought as well as updating sections in light of recent scholarship. These changes mean that it continues to be an essential book for those who need an introduction to Islam that is both readable and well-informed."
John Voll, Georgetown University

"This is a masterful study accessible to students, scholars and the general reader. Few authors are more knowledgeable or better equipped to write such a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the history Islam."
John L Esposito, Georgetown University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Tamara Sonn is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities in the Department of Religious Studies at the College of William & Mary. She is the author of numerous books, including Interpreting Islam (1996) and Comparing Religions through Law (with J. Neusner, 1999), and is co-editor-in-chief of the Wiley-Blackwell online journal, Religion Compass.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Foreword x

Preface xiv

Preface to the First Edition xvii

Maps xx

1 Many Paths to One God: Establishing the Ideals 1

The Quran 1

The Quran and Other Scriptures 7

Themes of the Quran 13

The Exemplary Life of Muhammad, Prophet of Islam: The Sunna 24

The Early Muslim Community and the Pillars of Islam 27

The Successors ("Caliphs") 31

Early Communal Disputes 34

Conclusion 36

2 The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Service of God and Humanity: The Golden Age 39

Institutions 40

Law 41

Political Structure 49

Cultural Achievements 52

Spirituality and the Mystical Tradition: Sufism 61

Conclusion 78

3 Division and Reorganization 79

The Crusades and Other Disasters 79

The Decline of the Abbasids and Rise of the Ottomans 86

Persia: The Safavid Empire 94

India and the Rise of the Mughals 98

Understanding Developments in Islamic History 107

Conclusion 112

4 Colonialism and Reform 113

Colonialism 113

The Outcome of World War I 123

The Effects of Colonialism: The Challenge of Islamic Reform 130

Themes of Islamic Reform: Personal Initiative and Social Solidarity 134

Themes of Islamic Reform: Ijtihad 139

Themes of Islamic Reform: Commitment to Learning 143

Conclusion 145

5 Obstacles and Prospects for Islamic Reform 147

Obstacles: The Impact of Colonialism 148

Prospects for the Future 169

Islam, Human Rights, and Democracy 177

Islam among World Religions 185

Notes 193

Further Reading 200

Source Acknowledgments 204

Index 206

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Islam is peace


    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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