This is a brief, concise, but rich summary of the essence of Islam. I recommend the book for Muslims or non-Muslims, casual or serious reader, layman or scholar. A challenge tonon-Muslims who want to examine Islam objectively without prejudices of Islamic misrepresentations and to professed Muslims who do not know much about the message of Islam.
I agree with the reader from Chicago that Islam must be shown from a scientific point of view. Afterall, there is no conflict between religion and science in Islam. On the contrary, the Qur'an invokes believers to observe, and reflect, for understanding. That is also the scientific method.
I disagree with the "Khalifornia" reviewer on two points: One, as brief as this book is, it is not the place for explanations of beliefs and practices. Two, it is a misconception that this book modernizes Islam. The Qur'an, which has been preserved in the way it was revealed and no revisions allowed or done, has always been modern. It is the professed practitioners who let their cultural influences intrude into their "Islamic practices" to return Muslims to the era of ignorance that prevailed before the advent of Islam. This book is just a revival of the true spirit of Islam.
The book is a rich, healthy, mouth-watering appetizer. It is up to the curious reader to follow up with other more in-depth books written by authors who know what Islam really is, such as 'Abd al 'Ati, Badawi, Esposito, Lings, Haneef, Hofmann and others.
To the authors, God bless the "pen" you write with.
This book highlights the typical extremes that are found in the host of English language Islamic publications that have cropped up in recent years from Saudi Arabia. Nicely produced books (the best money can buy!), but written by people who have little idea of Western culture and mindset. This title is no exception, it is written clearly "for the average American to understand Islam" and we will review it from that angle.
This is really a book of two parts, the first half (40 pages) presents the miraculous scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Holy Qur'an. This first half about the Quran is EXCELLENT, a great great presentation, beautifully illustrated and explained.
The second half is a disaster to say the least. It starts off with some statistics showing Islam as the fastest growing religion, and then the authors write "This phenomenon indicates that Islam is truly a religion from God."!!!! So what does it mean that Chrisitans are the largest religious community in the world?? Does that make Chrisitanity the true religion also? Clearly, there is some mishap here in reasoning.
The rest of the 30 pages in this second half detail what Muslim's believe, and here are some major goof-ups. "What Does Islam Say About Terrorism?" is a section among the various other Muslim beliefs!!!! Clearly, there is no need for us Muslims to get so defensive about Western pop media potrayals that we start including them in our Religious Beliefs sections.
The myopic Muslim viewpoint of this work is again apparent as things that Americans really care about are glossed over in half-page paragraphs. Family and Women Studies is covered in one page whereas there should be atleast 4 pages detailing this aspect of Islam, as Americans could learn from Islam here. Racism is discussed adequately but there is no chapter called Racism, one finds it under "Human Rights & Justice in Islam." This is just poor editorial work. And lo! there is NO mention whatsoever of the daily Islamic morals and manners, another aspect Americans could learn a lot from Muslims. Nor is there any mention of Alcohol, Abortion, Interest, the Mosque as the Community Center, and finally JIHAD (against evil)!!! Of course, insofar as Jihad is concerned, i can sympathize with the Saudi publishers, as they hire the Americans to do the fighting for them, so technically absence of Jihad from such a book would not be considered an omission.
Right at the end, there is a paragraph entitled ISLAM IN THE UNITED STATES, and I will reproduce it entirety here. "It is difficult to generalize about American Muslims. They are converts, immigrants, factory workers, and doctors. This varied community is unified by a common faith, unerprinned by a nationwide network of mosques. Muslims arrived early in North America. By the eighteenth century, there were many Muslims in North America. Great Numbers of Americans have entered the fold of Islam. They are from different classes: the rich, the poor, the educated, and the illiterate. Today there are about five and a half million Muslims in the United States." Thats it! I am not sure what more I can add to this thoughtful description.
Then there is a page on important Islamic contacts in America, and as usual most of the major Muslims organizations are missing, (including the mythical "network of mosques" mentioned the page before). What one finds are a bunch of small obscure Saudi offices listed with P.O. Box addresses.
All in all a totally shoddy work on the back half of this book. The ironic thing about this title is that there are 5 "General Editors" listed inside the cover, all with Western names, and in paranthesis the publishers have tartly added their Muslim names, to give us the impression that they have done their homework and hired American-Muslim homeboys to produce this book!!! Which I suppose is the biggest tragedy of it all.
In conclusion, I would simply tear off the book at the 40th page, paste the back cover back on, and lo! I have an excellent book that should more accurately be titled A BRIEF ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO THE QURAN. I would NOT give the last 30 pages to an American friend!!