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Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization

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Book Overview

The world's leading Islamicist offers a concise introduction to this rich and diverse tradition of 1.2 billion adherents. In this informative and clear introduction to the world of Islam, Seyyed... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Excellent Introduction to Islam

Islam: Religion, History and Civilization (2002) is an excellent, up-to-date, easy to read and comprehend overall introduction to the complex subject that is Islam. Hats off to Seyyed Hossein Nasr for writing an easy introduction for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This is the sort of level-headed prose that goes leaps and bounds in helping us all understand a subject that is so much in the world news these days. Some examples of topics covered in the book include: What is Islam?, Doctrines and Beliefs of Islam, Islamic Practices and Institutions, History of Islam, Islam and Other Religions, and Spiritual & Religious Significance of Islam.

Islam and its Contrasting Contribution to Humanity

Seyyed Hossein Nasr concisely describes the rich diversity of the Islamic faith in the world. Nasr explains in plain English how the different Islamic communities came to life, spread and evolved over time (pg. 18 - 24). Nasr's journey through Islamic history usually shines through both its brevity and clarity (pg. 115-152). Unlike Bernard Lewis in his superb book "What Went Wrong? The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East (pg. 96-116)," Nasr does not always explain clearly to his (non-Islamic) readers why Islam, unlike Christianity, has not experienced the need to separate the spiritual from the temporal (pg. 26-28, 110-113, 173-177). Nasr rightly reminds his readers of the unique contribution that Islamic science made to the development of Western science (pg. XXI - XXII, 121, 126). Regularly, this immensely important contribution of Islamic scientists through their own observations, experiments and ideas, is ignored. For example, in his otherwise excellent book, "The Essential Drucker," Peter F. Drucker mentions the contribution of China, but not that of Islam, to the development of the West's technological lead by the end of the Middle Age (pg. 338). Unlike China, Islam at its apex created a world civilization: poly-ethnic, multiracial and intercontinental as Lewis states (pg. 6). Nasr does a good job at illustrating the rich interdependence that exists among the Qur'an, the art of calligraphy and architecture (pg. XIX, 40, 121 and 126). Nasr clearly explains which relationship the Prophet had with Allah and his human nature and how the Qur'an came to life through Divine guidance given to its Messenger (pg. 37-43, 62-64). Nasr goes on in showing how the Hadiths and their codification happened over time and which role the Shariah fulfills in an Islamic society (pg. 54-58, 75-80). Nasr also expands on the Schools of Islamic Thought and their history (pg. pg. 153-172). Nasr rightly reminds his audience that the Qur'an has codified from the beginning a number of women's rights that were unheard of for a long time in the West, a point that is often conveniently forgotten (pg. 67-70). The further emancipation of women in the Islamic world, unfortunately, is not perceived as modernization but as westernization that amounts to a betrayal of true Islamic values in some Islamic quarters. Unlike Lewis in his book mentioned above (pg. 101-102), Nasr apparently does want to acknowledge that the Holy Law of God, promulgated by revelation, has evolved in practice under the guise of tradition and reasoning (pg. 80). Muslim rulers have added or subtracted rules over time. Nasr also illustrates the six pillars of the Islamic faith: Declaration of faith and acknowledgement of Muhammed, the Messenger of God, praying, fasting, pilgrimage, almsgiving as well as the widely misunderstood and abused jihad in the Islamic societies (pg. 3, 91-110). Nasr's overview of Islam is ultimately an invitation to better know one of the maj

An Excellent Historical Perspective of Islam

This book turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, a historical book on Islam. The author is an Islamic scholar, and his credentials impress me a little more than Karen Armstrong, though I hold no grudge against her. I wanted to get an inside, learned perspective on the religion itself, without the preaching, and that's exactly what this book offers. I highly recommend it.The negative review from "AtheistWorld.Com Book Review" is actually posted by Solomon Tulbure, as you will find by doing a simple Yahoo! search. That is truly sad.

Just a taste of Nasr's insight....

Seyyed Hosseein Nasr is the most profound and eloquent spokesman of Islamic thought in the United States today. This book is a mere introduction into the ocean of his thought. The other reviewer is simply trying to peddle his own book. The George Washington University, where Dr. Nasr is a professor, organized a conference in 2001 honoring his unparalled contributions to Islamic studies. Check out the site, ....., if you would like to have a sense of the depth and breadth of Nasr's thought.
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