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The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Beliefnet Guides) Paperback – February 21, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Beliefnet Guides
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Three Leaves (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385514549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385514545
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,526,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This short book, one in a series published by the spirituality Web site Beliefnet.com in collaboration with Doubleday, offers a workmanlike and incomplete introduction to Islam. Hassaballa, a practicing physician, and Helminski, a well-known American Sufi whose work includes excellent translations of poetry by Rumi, describe the major principles of Islam, including the Five Pillars and monotheism. Although they provide basic introductory information about Islam, their analysis is dull. Described in the foreword as not "a work of scholarship," the book is offered as part of the dialogue created by the September 11 attacks. But this book's contribution to that dialogue is minimal as the authors trudge through the beliefs of Muslims. For instance, the chapter on hadiths, which are sayings or statements of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims often turn to when facing dilemmas, is mostly a simple reprint of hadiths, with no accompanying explanation. Indeed, the book can be divided into two parts: lengthy quotations from sacred texts and a loose response to evangelical Christian criticism of Islam. This primer pales in comparison to the many excellent introductions to Islam now available, including Karen Armstrong's Islam: A Short History and John Esposito's What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. (Feb. 21)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Apologies for Islam are legion since 9/11, and, among them, the new offering in the thus-far excellent Beliefnet series ranks toward the top. Dispensing with the mantra chanting about Islam being a religion of peace that some politicians practice, Hassaballa and Helminski calmly review the religion's famous five pillars of faith; its founder, Muhammad; the Qur'an; the Hadith, or sayings of Muhammad; and Islamic attitudes about freedom, jihad, and the status of women. They emphasize that Islam's holy book is most profitably read when one knows the historical circumstances in which specific suras (as its chapters are called) were written as well as the prophetic tradition (basically that of the Jews through and including Jesus) in which Islam's scripture participates and to which it constantly refers. One consults the Hadith, especially the two best-attested collections of them, to interpret and humanize the Qur'an's revelation. Properly informed understanding, the authors conclude, apprehends that Islam condones only defensive violence (which, however, sometimes seems preemptive, too). They make a good basic case for this reading of Islam. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. He is also a columnist for Patheos. His articles have been distributed worldwide by Agence Global, and he was also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune before joining ChicagoNow. In addition, Dr. Hassaballa has appeared as a guest on WTTW (Channel 11) in Chicago, CNN, Fox News, BBC, and National Public Radio.

Dr. Hassaballa is co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday), and his essay, "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," was published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). His latest book, Noble Brother, is the story of the Prophet Muhammad told entirely in poetry. His first work of fiction, Code Blue, is forthcoming from Faithful Word Press.

In 2007, his blog "God, Faith, and a Pen" was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is "the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post." "God, Faith, and a Pen" has also received an award for being one of the "Top Muslim Blogs for 2010" by Awarding The Web.

In addition to writing, Dr. Hassaballa helped found the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations and currently serves on their board of directors. He also co-founded the Bayan H. Hassaballa Charitable Foundation and serves as its Executive Director. He is lives in the Chicago area with his wife and four children.

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By BT on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In great details address issues that most westerners misunderstand regarding Islam. Great book, would highly recommend for many Muslims as well.
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6 of 17 people found the following review helpful By U Might B Wrong on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book offers a defense of Islam against prevalent Western characterizations. Such a defense is needed but this book rings hollow because the authors can see no wrong in Islam. They also make many historical comments that are weak. For example, they imply that Spain was far more advanced than the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages BECAUSE it was Islamic. Maybe. Correlation does not prove causation. The say any serious historian would have to admit the civilizing effect Islam had. Islam in the middle ages was spread by the sword. When the sword wasn't used it was because news had spread that if you don't surrender, you die. If you don't become Muslin you will be taxed into slavery. Maybe that's civilizing, I'm not sure.

In the foreward they justify Muslim's outrage at things like the the prisoner abuse by American troops. They neglected to mention the outrage westerners have at videotaped beheadings.

There are several statements that Muslims dislike commercialization. Hmmm. I'm not convince that commercialization is a bad thing. After all, it's been commercialization that has produced all the world's medicines, airplanes, ships, etc. BTW, the Islamic world has no problem exploiting those byproducts of the evil empire. Especially when it comes to getting oil and the assocaied profits.

Many of the attributes of Islam described in this book are beautiful concepts. The book is directed at westerners. However, I think members of Hamas, Hezbolla, and Al Queda should read the book to remind them of the peaceful nature of Islam.

The authors downplay the militaristic characteristics if Islam. They go to lengths to defend Mohammed's military acts, some of which would qualify as war crimes today.
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