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What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam 2nd Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199794133
ISBN-10: 0199794138
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Editorial Reviews

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What Everyone Needs to Know

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW About This Series

Who it's for:

Busy people with diverse interests, ranging from college students to professionals, who wish to inform themselves in a succinct yet authoritative manner about a particular topic.

What's inside:

An incisive approach to a complex and timely issue, laid out in a straight-forward, question-and-answer format.

Meet Our Authors

Top experts in their given fields, ranging from an Economist correspondent to a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, you can trust our authors’ expertise and guidance.

Popular Topics in the "What Everyone Needs to Know" Series

  • International Politics
  • Environmental Policies
  • World History
  • Sciences & Math
  • Religion & Spirituality

Review

A must read for everyone interested in Islam. Tauseef Ahmad Parray, The Muslim World Book Review. To have a peaceful future demands a more inclusive sense of pluralism and tolerance built upon mutual respect and understanding. But this cannot be achieved without knowledge of what Islam teaches and what Muslims believe. This book is an excellent tool towards that knowledge. Dr. Joe Seferta, Renew
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Product Details

  • Series: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (July 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199794138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199794133
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


John L. Esposito is University Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is the editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islam and The Oxford History of Islam, and author of Unholy War, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, and many other acclaimed works.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a student that was assigned this book and I am not religious. I was interested in this book to get an objective view of Islam but this is not that. The first part of the book that gave a lot of historical information and details about how Islam evolved was deserving of 5 stars. Unfortunately, the book continued to get more and more subjective as it went on. Basically, when the topic is something good like philanthropic organizations, and pursuit of education, and family life etc. Islam is the best thing since sliced bread. But when the topic is something like terrorism or anything else thats negative, Esposito is quick to categorize Islam with Christianity and Judaism over and over and over again to the extent that is was arguably unbecoming of scholarly. If I had not had any exposure to religion and was interested in following a religion I would become Islam based on this used car salesman pitch for Islam. I would only recommend this book for the first section and close the book. The rest of the book is basically cherry picked information to support the case that Islam is good (even better than Christianity and Judaism). It should also be noted that funding for this book came from an Islamic organization which should immediately be an indicator that it will be biased. Once again, the only thing that saved this book from being a 1 or 2 star was the great first part of the book. This book should be read with a critical view of the author's intent.
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Format: Hardcover
At the outset, it is worth noting that it would be hard to find any text that gives a fully objective explication of any of the world's religions. The author does a good job of explaining the basics of Islam, and does attempt to grapple with some of the tougher issues, though almost always trying to give a pro-Islam spin. For example, he notes that Islam imposes the death penalty for leaving the faith. He provides some historical context, and quotes some leading Moslems who don't agree with this law. But he does not point out many other Moslem leaders support the law, and he never actually condemns this completely inexcusable rule. He does not go in any detail of Mohammed's military career or the militaristic passages in the Koran. And other than to call Islamic terrorists extremists, he does not explain how they commonly correctly quote the Koran in support of their terrorist acts, or explain the connection between the religion and the terrorists. He completely fails to discuss the fact that Mohammed married a six year old and consumated the marriage when she was nine, a fact used by Moslem men to this day to justify taking child brides. So if you want to learn some basics about Islam, this book is a good start. On the other hand, you will be disappointed if you are hoping to learn how Islam is misused by terrorists.
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Format: Hardcover
The basic premise of this book is admirable, that is to inform non-Muslims about the essential features of Islam and Muslims of which they might otherwise be unaware. However, from a theological perspective, this approach would have been much more effective if the book was composed of contributions from a variety of specialists on the subject, rather than just being a reflection of Esposito's understanding of Islam. The novice reader will not pick up on the sectarian bias* (subtle as it may be) in Esposito's authorship. Furthermore, using a singular voice and sometimes rudimentary explanations to describe what are often complex religious beliefs or historical events can be a dangerous approach, the result of which is an essentialisation of Islam as a faith which might unwittingly achieve the opposite effect of what this book intends. Islam today reflects diversity of beliefs and views, but unfortunately Esposito's unilateral narrative fails to convey this diversity to those unfamiliar with Islam.

*E.g., Esposito's claim that Shii followed Ali because of a belief that successorship should be hereditary, when in fact the Shii have evidence in terms of ahadith (sayings) of the Prophet stating his decision to appoint Ali as successor, and the original followers of Ali based their allegiance on these ahadith over and above anything else. Moreover, far from having nepotistic origins, the right of Ali to lead is supported by evidence that he possessed greater qualities in terms of piety, good character and leadership than any other companion of the Prophet.
5 Comments 19 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Formatted as questions and answers, the book is very clear and would be great for someone that knows very little about Islam. I know a fair amount and found a lot of the answers overly simplistic and not detailed enough. There were many areas that I thought could use longer explanations or more details into the nuances. Again, if you don't know very much and just want a general idea, the book is useful and written in a very accessible way.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book attempts to interpret the Koran and often tries to make excuses for Islamic scripture. For example, the book comments about the Koran's requirement that a contract be witnessed by two men, and, if only ONE man is available, by one man and two women. The book says this doesn't mean the Koran equates two women to one man, but that rather that men were probably more familiar with the dealings of business. The Koran, of course, does not elaborate its reasoning, only what is mandated. For the book to "read between the lines" is crap. The book often cites sources without identifying the source. This is journalistic garbage. I do not recommend this book - find something better (it won't be hard).
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