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What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (What Everyone Needs to Know (Hardcover)) 2nd Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 47 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
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  • World History
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  • 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)
  • 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Verified Purchase
If you have a “need to know,” John L. Esposito, one of America’s leading scholars on Islam, has compiled a book that, while not exhaustive, will supply a neophyte enough knowledge to feel informed or enough to propel the reader to other sources. That book is What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. Divided into topic after topic, most entries are no more than a page long. Esposito covers topics such as “What do Muslims believe?” and “What is a mosque?” and “How is Islam similar to Judaism and Christianity?” and so many more topics that lead us to understanding of this religion that many know so little of. The reader will also learn the answers to “What does Islam say about homosexuality?,” “What does Islam say about abortion?,” and “What does Islam say about birth control?” So this is not just a dry treatise on Islamic history and beliefs, but it goes into topics that let us delve into the personalities of those who practice Islam. Esposito’s title is a bit over the top because this is a complex religion that a mere 250 pages can’t begin to totally explain. But for the person who wants some insight, some understanding, about Islam, this is a very good handbook.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book gives a lot of information about Islam, organized in question-answer form. And that's part of the problem with the book. It seems a little disorganized, with topics hard to find. It's also a bit burdened by its essential purposes--inform, but present Islam in a very positive light. I would like to have had more hard information on Islamic history and culture, more specifics about the contents of the Quran and fewer generalized sections designed to add luster to the reader's opinion of Muslims.
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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.
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Format: Hardcover
The book’s dust-jacket invited readers “to skip to areas that interest them”, (it mentions “homosexuality, birth control, abortion and slavery”) and other “hot-button issues.”

Great. I’ll make my first query, 53 year old Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha when she was 6, and its consummation when she was 9 (one source says 10).
I’m familiar with the extreme views (“the man was a pedophile”/”you need to understand Arab culture at the time”) and I wanted to see where Mr Esposito sat on the issue.

Nothing. Nada. If the author has an opinion, he’s keeping it to himself. The lady is mentioned; as an authority on history etc, and as stating that Muhammad never hit a servant or a woman.
That’s it. Not a good start for me.

Next hot-button issue for me was apostasy. What is Islamic teaching about those who leave the faith?. At least here, the author is upfront. “Islamic law …. prescribes the death penalty”. The added information that “prominent Muslim scholars” (who are unnamed) maintain that the death penalty is not Quran based, seems an irrelevancy to me. If you are being executed for apostasy in any of the 9 countries (all Muslim) which make it a capital offence, the scriptural basis for the ruling probably won’t interest you much.

Hot-button issue No. 3. Women. Two quotes from the Quran
4:19 “O you who believe. You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness.”
4:34 “Good women are obedient, guarding in secret that which God has guarded. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, then banish them to beds apart and strike them.
Read more ›
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