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By Karen Armstrong

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Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 03 December 2001
In the public mind, Islam is a religion of extremes: it is the world's fastest growing faith; more than three-quarters of the world's refugees are Islamic; it has produced government by authoritarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and ultra-republicans in Iran. Whether we are reading about civil war in Algeria or Afghanistan, the struggle for the soul of Turkey, or political turmoil in Pakistan or Malaysia, the Islamic context permeates all these situations. Karen Armstrong's elegant and concise book traces how Islam grew from the other religions of the book, Judaism and Christianity; introduces us to the character of Muhammed; and demonstrates that for much of its history, the religion has been a force for enlightenment that promoted liberties for women and allowed the arts and sciences to flourish. Islam shows how this progressive legacy is today often set aside as the faith struggles to come to terms with the economic and political weakness of most of its believers and with the forces of modernity itself.

Promotional Information

Karen Armstrong is a high-profile and well-respected author Karen Armstrong is the author of the worldwide best-seller, A HISTORY OF GOD, which has now appeared in more than thirty languages Paperback edition of ISLAM has already been reprinted four times Includes a new Postscript on the events of September 11th 2001 Part of the Universal History series, an ambitious and authoritative collection of serious yet accessible histories by world-class authors 'A thoroughly good well as being an excellent antidote to prejudice' Financial Times.

About the Author

Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, an experience she recollected in her two volumes of best selling autobiography, THROUGH THE NARROW GATE and BEGINNING THE WORLD. She is the author of the world wide best seller, A HISTORY OF GOD (which has now appeared in more than thirty languages), the acclaimed HISTORY OF JERUSALEM and, most recently, THE BATTLE FOR GOD. She is a teacher at the Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism and, in 1999, she received the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award.


Readers seeking a quick but thoughtful introduction to Islam will want to peruse Armstrong's latest offering. In her hallmark stylish and accessible prose, the author of A History of God takes readers from the sixth-century days of the Prophet Muhammad to the present. Armstrong writes about the revelations Muhammad received, and explains that the Qur'an earned its name (which means recitation) because most of Muhammad's followers were illiterate and learned his teachings not from reading them but hearing them proclaimed aloud. Throughout the book, Armstrong traces what she sees as Islam's emphasis on right living (… la Judaism) over right belief (… la Christianity). Armstrong is at her most passionate when discussing Islam in the modern world. She explains antagonisms between Iraqi Muslims and Syrian Muslims, and discusses the devastating consequences of modernization on the Islamic world. Unlike Europe, which modernized gradually over centuries, the Islamic world had modernity thrust upon it in an exploitative manner. The Islamic countries, Armstrong argues, have been "reduced to a dependent bloc by the European powers." Armstrong also rehearses some basics about Islamic fundamentalism in a section that will be familiar to anyone who has read her recent study, The Battle for God. A useful time line and a guide to the "Key Figures in the History of Islam" complete this strong, brisk survey of 1,500 years of Islamic history. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Within the Muslim world, history and politics are inseparable vehicles of religious expression and cultural identity. A proper understanding of Islamic history is therefore essential if we are ever to resolve the major issues we face in the Middle East. In her newest book, best-selling author Armstrong (Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths) does an admirable job of presenting Islamic history from an objective, unbiased point of view. This book (part of a new series of small-format hardcover originals from Modern Library) is a distillation of years of writing and thinking about Islam. The history of conflicts with the West from 1750 to the present, the modern Muslim State, fundamentalism, and the Muslim minority are some of the themes addressed. A listing of key figures in Islam is included. Short but detailed, this excellent synopsis of the topic is recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/00.]DMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

EAN: 9781842125830
ISBN: 1842125834
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 1.8 centimetres (0.14 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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