Synopses & Reviews
Few subjects have gripped the Western world in the twenty-first century to the same degree as Islam, yet it remains widely misunderstood. This second edition of Islam: A Brief History
is the ideal introduction, offering readers a concise yet thoroughly absorbing account of a faith that is shared by more than a billion people today.
Beginning with an account of the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islamic ideals, the book spans Islam’s phenomenal geographical expansion and cultural development, right up to the creation of modern states and the current situation in Islamic societies. Reflecting recent global developments, the second edition expands its coverage of the Qur’an, Sufism, and Muslim views on human rights, including the rights of women. It also includes fascinating vignettes of Islamic life, increasing its representation of mainstream Muslim viewpoints on issues of global concern. The book’s accessible structure and Tamara Sonn’s lively writing style illuminate the complex interrelationships of cultural, political, and ideological developments woven throughout Islamic history. Timely and concise, Islam: A Brief History is an indispensable introduction to Islam and its role in today’s global society.
"Sonn provides a significant new analysis of the range of contemporary Muslim thought as well as updating sections in light of recent scholarship. These changes mean that it continues to be an essential book for those who need an introduction to Islam that is both readable and well-informed."
— John Voll, Georgetown University
"This is a masterful study accessible to students, scholars and the general reader. Few authors are more knowledgeable or better equipped to write such a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the history of Islam."
— John L Esposito, Georgetown University
Reflecting recent global developments, the second edition of this illuminating introduction to Islamic history expands its coverage of the Qur’an, Sufism, and Muslim views on human rights, including the rights of women.
- An expanded new edition of this concise, illuminating introduction to Islam, written by one of the field’s leading scholars
- Spans Islamic history from the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islamic ideals, through Islam’s phenomenal geographical expansion and cultural development, to the creation of modern states and its role in today’s global society
- Features expanded coverage of the Qur’an, Sufism, and Muslim views on human rights, including the rights of women
- Includes fascinating vignettes of Islamic life, representing mainstream Muslim viewpoints on issues of global concern
- Explores the complex interrelationships of cultural, political, and ideological developments woven throughout Islamic history, drawing on specific examples including current developments in Pakistan
About the Author
is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities in the Department of Religious Studies at the College of William
& Mary. She is the author of numerous books, including Interpreting Islam
(1996) and Comparing Religions through Law
(with J. Neusner, 1999), and is co-editor-in-chief of the Wiley-Blackwell online journal, Religion Compass
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations.
Preface to the First Edition.
1 Many Paths to One God: Establishing the Ideals.
The Quran and Other Scriptures.
Themes of the Quran.
The Exemplary Life of Muhammad, Prophet of Islam: The Sunna.
The Early Muslim Community and the Pillars of Islam.
The Successors ("Caliphs").
Early Communal Disputes.
2 The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Service of God and Humanity: The Golden Age.
Spirituality and the Mystical Tradition: Sufism.
3 Division and Reorganization.
The Crusades and Other Disasters.
The Decline of the Abbasids and Rise of the Ottomans.
Persia: The Safavid Empire.
India and the Rise of the Mughals.
Understanding Developments in Islamic History.
4 Colonialism and Reform.
The Outcome of World War I.
The Effects of Colonialism: The Challenge of Islamic Reform.
Themes of Islamic Reform: Personal Initiative and Social Solidarity.
Themes of Islamic Reform: Ijtihad.
Themes of Islamic Reform: Commitment to Learning.
5 Obstacles and Prospects for Islamic Reform.
Obstacles: The Impact of Colonialism.
Prospects for the Future.
Islam, Human Rights, and Democracy.
Islam among World Religions.