In this volume "designed for general readers with little or no knowledge of Islam," more than 2,000 alphabetically arranged entries treat "the religion of Islam and its impact on history, politics, and society." Editor Esposito also edited the four-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (1995), from which the new work extracts and updates material. Recent developments are reflected in the entries Bin Laden, Osama; HAMAS; Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); Qaeda, al-; and Taliban. There are also entries that describe Islam in various countries and regions, while the religious foundation of Islam is treated in the entries Pillars of Islam and Quran. The Islamic perspective on topics such as abortion and homosexuality is also provided. Although the focus is on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the inclusion of important persons and places in the history of Islam broadens the scope of the work.
The goal of creating a compact resource for the general reader may account for the lack of features such as supplemental bibliographies and an index. Cross-referencing isi nsufficient. The entry for Pillars of Islam has no see reference from "Five Pillars," a name by which they are also commonly known. Further, this entry fails to point the reader to the entries for each of the individual pillars, something an index and see also references could easily accomplish.
The standard reference tool for Islam is the ongoing Encyclopaedia of Islam (Brill, 1954-). Densely academic, it is beyond the scope of many libraries and contains little in the way of contemporary issues. Another option is the single-volume The New Encyclopedia of Islam (AltaMira, 2001), which includes suggestions for further reading, illustrations, and better cross-references, though it, too, lacks an index and bibliographies for entries.
World events have sparked a keen interest in Islam. Despite its drawbacks, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam would be a useful addition to public and academic libraries. RBB
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"News coverage of the Arab world has expanded and improved in the last two years.... The Oxford Dictionary of Islam may be your best bet short of reading a pile of books, or living next door to a professor of Islamic studies. John L. Esposito, professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University, has assembled an impressive team of contributors who have produced a concise, accessible reference volume. With more than 2,000 entries, it covers almost anything you might want to look up, and some crucially important things you might not think to."--The New York Times, Education Life