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Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World (Introductions to Religion) Paperback – March 15, 1999

3.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Islam is the fastest-growing world religion, with over ten million Muslims in the West. As their number increases, so do the misunderstandings and conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims. Anthropologist Ahmed accurately explains the conflicting cultural values and ignorance of East and West and does an excellent job explaining the differences between the Shi'ite and Sunni branches of Islam, women in Islam, and Muslim minorities. Unfortunately, owing to space constraints, Nigeria and Indonesia are not covered. Ahmed is a visiting professor at Princeton and Harvard; his Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society (Routledge, 1989. reprint) was highly praised. An essentially identical hardcover version of this book was published in the U.K. in 1993 under the title Living Islam: From Samarkand to Stornoway (BBC). Highly recommended for all libraries as a companion to John Bowker's What Muslims Believe (Element, 1999).AMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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""Get a true picture of the religion distorted by Osama bin Laden in this Oprah recommended guide to the Muslim world."" --Guardian
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Product Details

  • Series: Introductions to Religion
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; Revised edition (March 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860642578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860642579
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be very well written. For the first time I have a picture of the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam and what the Islamic countries and peoples are going through in modern times as well as giving a consise history of the Islamic empires of the past. The author does not present a lop sided picture at all but strives to show the problems that Islam faces from both within and without. It most definitely made the Islamic people more human to me.
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Format: Paperback
The good news is that I have learned quite a bit of factual information about Islam, and gained some understanding and increased respect for this religion as a result of reading this book.

The bad news is that the Pollyanna-ish tone in discussion of some of the difficult issues undermines the author's credibility. While he does a clear job of explaining the facts of the Shia/Sunni split, for instance, he makes it sound as if this split is the subject of a polite debate over cups of tea, rather than a war fought with machine guns. I think this comes from a well-meaning desire to show a positive face to the non-Muslim world--something we Jews refer to as "Not in front of the goyim."

This wimping-out in the face of uncomfortable subjects reminds me of the cancer patient-education pamphlets I've seen: "Some patients may find that chemotherapy causes a certain degree of discomfort."

Really, I think my respect for Islam would be enhanced rather than reduced if the author portrayed the internal and external conflicts of this and other religions with the full depth of the passions that they engender. I can take it, Doc, just tell me the truth.
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Format: Paperback
I gave this book 5 stars more for what it did for me rather than simply literary analysis. This book became the begining of my conversion to Islam. After reading this book it allowed me to open myself to look at Islam much more seriously than I had before. On a literary basis, the author is not as objective as I believe he tries to come accross. He is clearly pro-islam and consequently some of his arguments/observations sound contrived.
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Format: Paperback
I run QED, a UK non-profit making company, which addresses barriers facing South Asian communities in playing full role in Britains economic, social and political life. One of the major barrier is the negative perception of Muslim community amongst non-muslims. I feel this book addresses this issue in a positive way. I would recommend those who have negative views about Muslims to read this book. It will help them to understand the Muslim community and develop meaningful dialogue with it.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not of the same quality as his earlier book "Postmodernism and Islam". I felt let down, but maybe the contents match the title "a SHORT INTRODUCTION to the Muslim World" i.e. he sacrifices breadth for depth. Having read the earlier book I get the impression that Ahmed spent just a few weekends typing this one up. Why? Because, to name a few, (1) the structure of thoughts is not clear - you don't get a clean idea of what path he plans to take through the book; (2) there are so many spelling mistakes that could have been avoided by running the manuscript through a spell checker; (3) there aren't references for many of the very grand and important things he says; (4) he picks Iran, Turkey and Pakistan as Muslim countries to write about the past but does not spend much time on those countries with the largest Muslim populations e.g. India, Indonesia, Bangladesh etc.
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Format: Paperback
In 237 pages, the author Akbar S. Ahmed, attempts to explain Islam, or moreso the religious-political world of Muslims today. It is a short introduction, and as I've not read anything else (yet) about this topic, it is somewhat difficult for me to review this book. It became very clear to this white, German-Irish American-born male that there is no 'one' Islam practiced in this world... and that those who identify as Muslim in this world can be very different from one another, depending on which country they live in whether it's in Europe, the Middle East, Far East or the United States. They actually can be very different from each other in the SAME community. But that should not be surprising since Jews and Christians throughout the world practice their faith and politics in many ways (many which are not peaceful and compassionate to each other, or to others). I can't image trying to sum up Christianity in 237 pages, and so I think Mr. Ahmed (who I've since seen speaking in PBS and History chanel documentaries on Islam) does a good job of 'painting in broad strokes' and giving you specific example, of how Islam is being lived out in various parts of the globe. Ahmed is a moderate (from what I can tell) and so I think he honestly voices justified criticism at both the Muslim world(s) and the Western Euro-American world(s). At times the book is a little 'cut and paste' in how the author draws from his other writing... and it can be a little dry here and there... but for the most part I found the subject matter to be interesting and well-presented.
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Format: Paperback
I met Professor Ahmed in a convention where he was showing the documentary on Jinnah (the book and movie are highly recommended) His arguments in Islam Today deal with complex issues that have been shown in a false picture in the west. All the stereotypes that the Western countries and media have propogated are demolished my Prof. Akbar's concise explanation and reasoning. He is one Muslim thinker that must be read by all people in the world and Islam Today should be read by anyone who has every tried to understand what true Islam really is. A must buy!
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