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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam (The Complete Idiot's Guide) Paperback – October 1, 2001

3.5 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It may surprise readers to discover that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, according to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam. "However, even more eye-opening is the fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America," writes author Yahiya Emerick (How to Tell Others About Islam). Paradoxically, Islam is also one of the most misunderstood and maligned religions in North America. Fortunately, Emerick has written a viable antidote to the widespread confusion and ignorance. Using the Idiot's Guide's formula of questions and answers, sidebars, and small, easy-to-digest essays, Emerick makes Islam accessible to anyone who is inclined to learn more about this influential religion. Readers have much to glean from this comprehensive and balanced guidebook--primarily that Islam is a prayerful, peace-loving religion that has been misused in the name of terror, just as Hitler and other extremists have misused Christianity throughout history. Emerick devotes an entire section to "Looking at Women in Islam," in which readers can sort through even more misconceptions. The Idiot's Guide title belies the integrity of the book, which is an important contribution for our times. --Gail Hudson

About the Author

Yahiya Emerick is an American convert to Islam who has been involved in interfaith issues and education since 1990. He has a graduate degree in history, has authored 14 books for adults and children, and has been published in many magazines, including the Journal for Religion and Education.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Alpha; 1st edition (October 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028642333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028642338
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,398,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a practicing Muslim with limited knowledge of Islamic sciences I noticed some glaring errors in this book, for example in the story of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) it wrongly states that Abraham was a polytheist and then became a Prophet. According to traditional Islamic scholars this is incorrect and there is at least one explicit verse in the Qur'an that states 'Ibrahim was NEVER amongst the polytheists', and the way the verses where Ibrahim appears to worship the moon, stars and sun are written is in such a way that it is apparant that he is trying to prove such things are disbelief by asking rhetorical questions. Only a few modern scholars ignorant of the explicit verses stating Ibrahim and other Prophets never dabbled in polytheism make such claims. Throughout the book Yahya Emerick seems to be getting his information from modern fringe scholars who are not representive of the majority in Islam. Many of the 'reformers' he mentioned and praised were founders of extremist movements and many people believe these men caused a lot of damage to Islam. I personally do not think Mr Emerick is qualified to say many of the things he does, I think he should have co-authored the book with a recognised mainstream scholar. There are also many other things, and then some of the information about shias is very incorrect, I am not shia but I found the ignorance about the shia side of Islam offensive. I personally could not give this book to a non muslim because of the errors and minority views it contains; which is a shame as otherwise its a very good informative book.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book for two reasons. First, I've appointed myself the task of learning about the various world religions. Secondly, I have an Arabic friend (stay away Homeland Security) who is Muslim, and I wanted to understand where he was coming from a little better.

I wanted to give this book 3 and half stars, but that is not an option. I gave it four because the author fulfilled his primary mission of teaching the reader the basics of Islam. He also threw in a brief history Islam and Arabs that was interesting. When they talk about Sunnis and Shiites on the news, now I understand the difference. I now feel that at least I have a basic understanding of this religion, and new respect for its primary concepts.

I wanted to give it 3 stars for the following reason. I do not expect great scholarly works from the Idiot series, but I do expect an object treatment of the subject. This author was anything but objective. If his editorializing was eliminated the book would have shorten up by 50 or so pages. Islam is an evangelic religion like Christianity, and I definitely felt the missionary zeal of the author. If you skip through those sections it is a worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
I am a proud Muslim. I loved this book for its SIMPLICITY and FORTHRIGHTEOUSNOESS. It did not beat about the bush in any matter. Over the years I have forgotten the indepth nuances of certain aspects of my faith and this was a great refresher course. The contemporary style of the book differentiates it from more rigid and polarized versions of books on faith. It is written for people living in todays complex world, and being pulled in all directions at the same time, as I find myself as a Muslim in the US. Great Read!
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Format: Paperback
Many reviews have been negative due to the subjectiveness of the author's views which, I will admit, are common throughout the text. However, how does one write about his or her faith without being "for it". Any Christian book about Christianity follows the same suit.

This book is an overview of a beautiful faith that is closer to the basics of Christianity then I ever knew. It won't tell you everything but enough to begin to understand Islam and it's followers and that's really the point.
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Format: Paperback
This book has its flaws but it is an outstanding introduction to Islam. The author indulges in far too many polemics and too much of the book is spent defending the image of Islam and Muslims (both are viewed as being misunderstood victims). It is NOT an objective book, was never intended to be, but it is an informative one. However, the author makes an honest effort to reveal the nooks and crannies of Islam in a very open way. I learned a lot by reading this book. The defensiveness and apologetics get a bit old but it is packed with information. If you are looking for a book to help educate yourself on Islam I don't think you could do much better than this one. I do want to mention one particular dispute I have with this book regarding Jews and Islam. The author perpetuates the old myth of Islam "protecting" Jews as the two lived hand-in-hand in loving harmony. I think that can be vigorously disputed, and that Jews faired no better under Islam than they did under Christianity. But, ... that is another story. Overall, this book helped me to better understand Islam and provided insight into many of the misunderstandings and disputes that plague our modern world. That alone was worth the price of admission.
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By A Customer on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read both the on-line reviews and the book and would like to comment on some of the negative comments I've read here. Basically, the author was laying out what the religion of Islam teaches and how religious minded Muslim in the mainstream view their faith. This is how any honest author trying to explain a subject would proceed. I find it strange that some people are telling us to look at the terrible governments of the Muslim world and to judge Islam by that. Well then, let's judge Christianity by some very terrible governments in the Christian world. For example, the Nazis were all Christians, as were the Soviets (despite the veneer of Communism), the Conquistadores that killed millions in Latin America were all Christians and the dictatorships of southern Africa, Latin America (as they come and go) and also of eastern Europe are all Christian as well. Christians have persecuted and murdered Jews for over a thousand years in a brutal and systematic way. Should we judge Jesus and his teachings? The British and French looted half the world on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, do we say that wasa Christian act? Half the people in Libya look white because under Italian occupation, the "Christians" raped every Arab woman they came across. Is this Jesus' fault? A person writing a book about Christianity would rightly overlook all these instances and merely say that those acts of brutality are not consistent with the religion.
Why should we not give Islam the same slack? Look, before Sept. 11 no one gave half a peanut about Islam. Now because of fifty guys who were angry about the U.S. army in Arabia, now suddenly the whole world is villifying Islam as if it were a demonic religion of baby-eaters.
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