The Handy Islam Answer Book

The Handy Islam Answer Book

by John Renard
     
 

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In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur'an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of

Overview


In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur'an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of Christianity and Judaism, including the monotheistic belief in a single God. Islam is too often confusing and even opaque to those unfamiliar with it.

The Handy Islam Answer Book, is clearly and eloquently written by John Renard, Ph.D., a scholar of Islam with more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. He provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion. Renard explains the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur'an, Islamic law, and much more. This engaging primer is a resource for reliable information about Islam and Muslims and it brings an understanding of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them. Truly a must-have reference for our changing and trying times, this user-friendly guide answers nearly 800 questions and offers fun facts that cover Islamic history, religious practices, and Muslim cultural perspectives, including …

• When did Islam begin?
• Why is Mecca a holy city for Muslims?
• Do Muslims worship Muhammad?
• What was the fate of Medieval Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land?
• What do Muslims mean by the term "Allah"?
• What does the crescent moon and star symbol mean to Muslims?
• What is the Muslim “call to prayer”? Is it similar to “church bells”?
• Do Muslims believe that God “tests” people?
• Does Muhammad play a role in Islamic spirituality in a manner similar to Jesus’ role in Christianity?
• Is jihad a legal concept for Muslims?
• Is it true that Muhammad both preached and engaged in military campaigns?
• Do Muslims, Christians, and Jews worship the “same God”?
• Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim parts of Israel/Palestine as “Holy Land”?
• Why do some people, such as the Taliban, not want girls to get an education?
• Does Islam require wearing face veils?
• Does Islam have theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers?
• Is there any similarity between Muslim and Christian art?

Muslims are diverse, and they have a vast spectrum of views about Islam. The Handy Islam Answer Book aims for understanding, which is the first step to uniting, instead of dividing. This helpful books provides a historic timeline, a glossary of commonly used terms, a genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and beyond, a calendar of major observances, and a bibliography help further exploration of one of the world’s great religions.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/16/2015
This book, the latest in the publisher's Handy Answer Book series, is a helpful and comprehensive introduction to Islam, from its basic tenets to its geographical variation to its historical and contemporary political implications. Renard, a professor of comparative theology, is a strong prose writer with deep expertise on display in this work, as he delves into theology and politics with erudition and a measured, compassionate tone that will resonate with introductory readers. The question-and-answer format, however, does the work a disservice, as it interrupts Renard's thought, tires upon sustained reading, and often seems forced, with questions obviously posed only to fit the format. The intended audience for the book is unclear, with the questions ranging from the most basic ("What's the language of the Qur'an?") to far more complex questions few introductory readers would think to ask ("What is Nimrod's role in Islamic sources?") Still, it will be an invaluable asset for schools, libraries, and individuals seeking an informed and organized reference book for those curious about Islam and its role in today's world. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"... a helpful and comprehensive introduction to Islam ... an invaluable asset for schools, libraries, and individuals seeking an informed and organized reference book for those curious about Islam and its role in today’s world."— Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. This highly accessible and satisfying book ... well-written and captivating resource explains Islam using an accessible and balanced approach … A strong choice for anyone of high school age and above who wishes to know about Islam and for those who provide ready reference."— Library Journal

"Renard, a professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University, clearly knows his subject ..."— School Library Journal

"In The Handy Islam Answer Book by John Rendard, PhD, you’ll find the answers to the things you wonder: history, legal matters, and basic beliefs, all at your fingertips."— Bookworm Sez

Library Journal
★ 02/15/2015
This highly accessible and satisfying book from Renard (Islamic studies, St. Louis Univ.; Fighting Words: Religion, Violence, and the Interpretation of Sacred Texts) covers Islam and Muslim beliefs, culture, and philosophy. The author's stated purpose is to provide reliable information on the religion and its adherents and to elucidate what he calls "the simple consideration of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them." In these ways the volume succeeds admirably. Formatted as a series of questions divided into 12 thematic chapters, it addresses the essentials such as "How did Islam begin?" and "Who was Muhammad?" and the complex questions of philosophy, culture, and theology, such as "What are key aspects of the divine-human relationship?" and "How does preaching function in Muslim ritual?" Matters of family (marriage, divorce, child rearing); attitudes toward women, other cultures, and other faiths; and parallels and convergences between Islam and other religions, are also explored. A series of appendixes offers time lines, a glossary, and references. The text itself is engaging, and, rare for a reference book, inspires one to read it cover to cover. VERDICT This very well-written and captivating resource explains Islam using an accessible and balanced approach and rectifies the more egregious misconceptions about the religion that are often popularly cited. A strong choice for anyone of high school age and above who wishes to know about Islam and for those who provide ready reference.—Amanda K. Sprochi, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia
School Library Journal
06/01/2015
Gr 9 Up—Renard, a professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University, clearly knows his subject, but that knowledge does not receive its best presentation in this primer on Islam. Renard succinctly covers the life of Muhammad as well as other important personages, historical and current events, and theological, cultural, and practical questions. Students searching for a specific piece of information on Islam may find it here if they can follow the extensive table of contents to the relevant question or questions. On the other hand, readers looking for a broader understanding of Islam will have some difficulty, as the question-and-answer structure of the book necessitates a good deal of repetition. Major concepts like Sufism and legal traditions are used in answers early in the volume but are only described later. Throughout, Renard debunks misconceptions held about Islam that are common in the West, but at times his answers shift from the factual toward emotional defenses of the faith. Scattered throughout are questions that feel out of place in an introductory text, such as those about a specific Islamic conference held in 2005. VERDICT There is useful information here, but students may have an easier time using other sources to find the basic facts on Islam hidden in these pages.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578595105
Publisher:
Visible Ink Press
Publication date:
01/13/2015
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author


John Renard, Ph.D. received his doctorate in Islamic studies from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1973. He teaches courses in Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, religion and the arts, and comparative theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. He has written extensively on Islam. His most recent books include Friends of God: Islamic Images of Piety, Commitment, and Servanthood (2008), Tales of God’s Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation (2009), and Islam and Christianity: Theological Themes in Comparative Perspective (2011), all for University of California Press. He also authored Visible Ink Press’s popular comparative religion primer, The Handy Religion Answer Book.

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