Islam: A Brief History / Edition 2

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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.

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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



Preface to the First Edition


1. Many Paths to One God: Establishing the Ideals

The Quran

The Quran and Other Scriptures

Themes of the Quran

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

The Early Muslim Community and the Pillars of Islam

The Successors ("Caliphs")

Early Communal Disputes


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



Political Structure

Cultural Achievements

Spirituality and the Mystical Tradition: Sufism


3. Division and Reorganization

The Crusades and Other Disasters

The Decline of the Abbasids and Rise of the Ottomans

Persia: The Safavid Empire

India and the Rise of the Mughals

Understanding Developments in Islamic History


4. Colonialism and Reform


The Outcome of World War I

The Effects of Colonialism: The Challenge of Islamic Reform

Themes of Islamic Reform: Personal Initiative and Social Solidarity

Themes of Islamic Reform: Ijtihad

Themes of Islamic Reform: Commitment to Learning


5. Obstacles and Prospects for Islamic Reform

Obstacles: The Impact of Colonialism

Prospects for the Future

Islam, Human Rights, and Democracy

Islam among World Religions


Further Reading

Source Acknowledgments


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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • 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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