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A New Introduction to Islam
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought the new second edition of this text for an introductory course on Islam and ended up reading the entire book before the class even started. It's well written and organized, a vital necessity with 1400 years of ground to cover. Of course there are the narratives and basic info that any introductory work would include, but Brown also uses good examples to bring things into perspective: for instance the "Coffee Debate" illustrates how Islamic law actually operates. The book is up-to-date not only in its discussion of issues like "Islam and Modernity" but also in bringing up recent scholarly debates about the Koran and Islamic traditions. I found myself constantly saying, "So that's why," in regard to controversial issues like gender or the sharia.

Brown is sympathetic to his topic, but avoids an apologetic stance and tends to let facts speak for themselves. It's very much to his credit that someone like myself, a devout believer in a "heretical" religion, comes away from the book with far greater respect for Islam as a whole, and a thirst to know more. For that purpose the numerous references and bibliography are solid and useful. There's also a concise 10-page glossary for us non-Arabists.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
My review is really in response to John Esposito's book which was previously used for the Intro to Islam class at my university. This book is breath of fresh air. I have only read a couple chapters so far, but Brown tells you more explicitly WHERE Muslims get their information about things such as Muhammad's life. This was missing in the equivalent Esposito book for the most part. Also I see Brown as very fair in his analysis, just the right amount of critical. This is a very basic textbook but a good one for an Intro class. Esposito has the tendency to make Islam appear perfect, and is not critical of any areas of it. Brown does a much fairer job.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is an undergraduate college textbook, and it reads like one. I found it interesting, though the style is rather dry. I appreciated the history of Islam being provided in the context of the religious ferment that was going at the time -- particularly the unorthodox Christian sects that had been driven out of the Byzantine empire into the desert regions. Mohammed apparently had contact with several of these groups during his travels, and his views and perspectives on Christianity were influenced by their theology. It was also interesting to read how in the early years, Muslims and Jews found common cause in their opposition to Christianity. All in all, an excellent overview of the history of Islam, the major (and minor) Islamic sects, Islamic theology, interpretations of Islamic law, etc. If you want an objective, non-polemic introduction to this important religion, this is a good one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
It's a good introduction. I bought the kindle version and for study purpose this is not handy:

It's very annoying that the index in the back of the kindle version doesn't link to passages in the book.
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on November 12, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A clear description of the basics of Islam. I haven't finished it yet, and it is intended to be a textbook for college courses. It has been helpful to me as I have more contact with Muslims in other countries so that I can understand some of their orientation.
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Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Easy to read easy explanations and helpful for an intro to Islam class. I passes the class, and I know I could not have done it without this book.
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on January 21, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This primer on Islam is very well-written and an excellent tool, if paired with primary source readings. Brown's ability to present complex material in a very readable manner is appreciated. As a very good introduction ought to do, it connects with undergraduates to inspire further in-depth research.
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on February 19, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in learning about Islam. It presents things in an orderly manner and does a very good job describing new concepts to people with no prior exposure.
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on October 14, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Good book very informative about the religion and explains reasons for contemporary conflict and a great overview of the history and how Islam has evolved and why.
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on August 5, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Solid, object overview of a subject that can appear complicated and convoluted. Brown makes it understandable.
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