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The Everything Understanding Islam Book: A Complete and Easy to Read Guide to Muslim Beliefs, Practices, Traditions, and Culture (Everything (Religion)) Paperback – April, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Christine Huda Dodge writes articles about Islam for such publications as the Oregonian newspaper Al-Madrasah Al-Ula (a Muslim educational newsletter), and the Islamic Sisters Internationale newsletter. She moderates the Islam Forum, an online community, and has been involved in the publication of several Islamic books, including The Authentic Step-by-Step Illustrated Janazah Guide (an Islamic funeral guide), The English Concordance of the Qur’an, and Signs of the Hour (Islamic teachings about the Day of Judgment). She has served as the Women’s Committee Chair and the Education Coordinator of her local mosque in Corvallis, Oregon.

Product Details

  • Series: Everything (Religion)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580627838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580627832
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,217,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ms. Dodge is a Muslim educator and writer with nearly two decades of experience researching and writing about Islam on the Internet. An American woman of Irish/English descent, she has been a Muslim for the past 20 years. Ms. Dodge writes about Islam for About.com (http://islam.about.com) and currently teaches elementary school in the Middle East. Ms. Dodge holds a M.Ed. degree and is fluent in English, French, and Arabic.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I actually wanted to pick up a book on the history of Islam in order to refresh my memory, but after a little thought, considering the breadth of the subject matter, I chose this book instead.

I consider myself fortunate that I did choose this book. The author delivers everything stated in the title, plus gives the reader a little of the early history of Islam and some brief but concise and very relevant information on the major divisions of Islam today. From this book, I learned that not all Muslims share the same outlook or beliefs, much like Christians, and that deep philosophical and intellectual rifts exist within Islam. In essence, there are progressive and fundamentalist elements within the religion, just as there are in Christianity, and more important, there are sects possessing pseudo-Islamic elements, just as there are in Christianity. After reading this book, I actually came away thinking that both Islam and Christianity are more similar than different, with respect to the fact that the power structures in both are male-dominated and male interpreted, and also that although the religions both have benevolent overtones, their most zealous adherents clearly display malevolent tendencies.

Anyone, from kids to adults, can pick up this book and learn something. The book introduces a lot of terms, most likely in Arabic (romanized of course), but without a phonetic sounding of them I am afraid that I may be butchering the pronunciation of the terms when I say them in conversations with friends about Islam. My only real complaint with the text is that it does not give the reader much of the history of Islam, but then no book can provide one with a whole history of a world religion in a mere 250 pages.
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Format: Paperback
I am tired of feeling like all the information available to most Americans regarding the World's second largest religious group has an agenda, one way or another. Having been pleased and impressed with the balanced and concise Everything Middle East book, I thought that Dr. Dodge's book on Islam would provide the same informative, balanced, current primer. Unfortunately, the book does little more than present what appears to be a "G rated" thumbnail of Islam, glossing over any issue which may be controversial in the slightest. If Dr. Dodge's book was intended to present only the best of what Mohammed's revelations bring to the world, then she has succeeded. The book seems more focused on making western Christians feel comfortable with the similarities between the two faiths, as evidenced by a handful of verses from the Koran, than with presenting "the good with the bad" and sharing the theological reasoning behind those aspects of Islam that seem truly foreign to the Western reader, or at least acknowledging that the instructions of the Koran are, like the message of Christianity, often corrupted or perverted based on other tribal, cultural, or chauvinistic predilections. Reading this book is NOT a waste of time by any means, but it should certainly be followed up with a more balanced book for those who are truly seeking understanding about Islam, its role in the world, where "the Peoples of the Book" (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) can find common ground, and where, perhaps, they cannot.
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Format: Paperback
Excellent! I have long been looking for an easy to read, yet comprehensive, book about Islam, and this one is it. The author does a good job of covering the basic beliefs and practices of Muslims, yet she also delves into the more complex issues with such refreshing ease, rendering even the complex quite accessible. The author also hosts an online community at[the website]. The book's layout is pleasing to the eye and is a good guide through the material.
Highly recommended for casual readers, for students, and those interested in a thoughtful discussion.
Table of Contents:
1) The Vision of Islam
2) The Diverse Muslim World
3) Origins in Arabia
4) Muhammad the Prophet
5) Expansion of Islamic Civilization
6) Six Articles of Faith
7) The Five Pillars of Practice
8) Islamic Prayer
9) Islamic Guidance and Law
10) Historical Divisions and Deviations
11) Islam and other Faiths
12) The Muslim Perception of Jesus
13) The Muslim view of creation
14) Heaven and Hell
15) Islamic Manners and Morals
16) Dietary Laws, Health Care, and Funeral Services
17) Jihad: The Holy Struggle
18) Shrouded in Mystery: Women and Islam
19) Islamic Married Life
20) Raising Muslim Children
21) The Extended Muslim Family
22) The Islamic Arts
23) A Faith of Exploration and Discovery
24) Islam and the West
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Format: Kindle Edition
I wish I could say this book was good. It was sufficient, and that's about as much as I can say for it. It gave me a basic understanding of several areas, but the author undermines herself repeatedly.

For one, she repeats paragraphs repeatedly, usually verbatim. For instance, the paragraph about how the Quran is compatible with evolution is repeated three times in different chapters, always verbatim or very close. Likewise, the same Koranic verses are used repeatedly. She can't have used more than 30 verses total, probably an average of 3 times each. I don't feel there was good scriptural support because of that.

Also, the organization is terrible. Before jumping into what the religion requires, how about you start with its history and who Mohammed is? Instead, those sections are in the back. This is the reason there is so much repetition; she has to explain something when she throws it in randomly, then she has to explain it again when she reaches that chapter.

More annoyingly, the book had repeated attempts to distance Islam from the negative stereotypes of Islam. I assumed she would do that some, but it gets to the point of "I think she doth protest too much." Also, her statements aren't always factually correct. For instance, she says the jizya tax was never more than a nominal amount that was used to protect religious minority communities and that they must be protected once that tax is paid. History does not support that assertion. There are some places where it may have been low and was a real protection, but in the majority of circumstances, the tax was very high and the population still lived in fear of the Muslim majority, having to walk in the gutter or could be beaten without recourse to the law.
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