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Islam: A Short Historyby Karen Armstrong
Synopses & Reviews
World renowned for her scholarly contributions to Levantine religious studies, Karen Armstrong (A History of God, Muhammad, and, more recently, The Battle for God,) offers this concise and informative look into the religion perhaps most misunderstood and feared by the West. Maintaining that Islam is more practical than dogmatic and contemplative, Armstrong neatly explains how history, politics, and religion have influenced each other through time, and places special emphasis on the role that history has played in this religion. Distinguishing the religion from its recently developed fundamentalist offshoots, Armstrong debunks the myths of female oppression, terrorism, and authoritarian rule that non-Muslims mistakenly associate with Islam itself. Armstrong's succinct, fluid prose allows over 1300 years of Islamic history to fit gracefully into less than 200 pages, making it an ideal primer for people not yet familiar with Islamic religion and history. An introductory chronology and additional maps placed throughout the text help provide context for the important historical events that Armstrong describes. A list of key figures, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading are also provided. Malia, Powells.com
No religion in the modern world is as feared and misunderstood as Islam. It haunts the popular Western imagination as an extreme faith that promotes authoritarian government, female oppression, civil war, and terrorism. Karen Armstrong's short history offers a vital corrective to this narrow view. The distillation of years of thinking and writing about Islam, it demonstrates that the world's fastest-growing faith is a much richer and more complex phenomenon than its modern fundamentalist strain might suggest.
Islam: A Short History begins with the flight of Muhammad and his family from Medina in the seventh century and the subsequent founding of the first mosques. It recounts the origins of the split between Shii and Sunni Muslims, and the emergence of Sufi mysticism; the spread of Islam throughout North Africa, the Levant, and Asia; the shattering effect on the Muslim world of the Crusades; the flowering of imperial Islam in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries into the world's greatest and most sophisticated power; and the origins and impact of revolutionary Islam. It concludes with an assessment of Islam today and its challenges.
With this brilliant book, Karen Armstrong issues a forceful challenge to those who hold the view that the West and Islam are civilizations set on a collision course. It is also a model of authority, elegance, and economy.
One of the world's foremost historians and thinkers on religious affairs writes on the history and destiny of the world's fastest-growing but most misunderstood religion: Islam.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -211)and index.
About the Author
Karen Armstrong is one of the world's foremost scholars on religious affairs. She is the author of several bestselling books, including The Battle for God, Jerusalem, The History of God, and Through the Narrow Gate, a memoir of her seven years as a nun. She lives in London.
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