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'The latest in the _New Internationalist's_ excellent series of _No-Nonsense Guides_ to all things is timely, as the peaceful and humane idealogy of the world's second-largest religion becomes dangerously obscured not only by widespread ignorance and misinterpretation, but also by the Muslims own drift away from the central tenets of the faith. The book examines the history and principles of Islam, how the faith which emphasised justice, creativity and tolerance, drifted from education to despotism and mediocrity, and what Islam could and should become in future.' - Observer, London.

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'My school library contains many books about Islam. However, no books explain the conflicts which have arisen... A teenage student investigating Islamic views as an issue, rather than a system of beliefs would have been very short of material before the addtion of this volume.' - School Librarian, UK.

‘Sardar and Davies show what Islam has achieved; and what it is capable of achieving. They suggest how both Islam and the West can transform themselves to see each other as fully human and capable of laying the foundation for a just world order.’ - Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Director of the Muslim Institute and leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

"Despite the progressive stance of the authors, this is more than a liberal introduction to Islam. The Guide takes a historical path, beginning with the Qur'an and the Prophet, and concluding with chapters on reform movements and contemporary issues. The result is an introduction suitable for any student or educated reader with an interest in Islam.

In other hands, such a treatment of Islam would have been unremarkable. What highlights this as a work of distinction is the way it consciously sets itself aside from forces informing popular Muslim understandings of their own history. For example, contemporary Islamic cliches regarding Islam's grand legacy to the West are properly situated in Europe's colonial take-over of the Muslim world, where envy and fear drove the colonial invaders to crush key facets of Islamic learning and culture.

The result is an understanding of the Muslim faith situated in history and contemporary realities, but which never stoops to cheap 'West bashing', instead drawing on analyses from development studies, sociology and politics. Despite the relative brevity of the book - 142 pages - Sardar and Davies seek to clarify rather than simplify a progressive Muslim analyses of Islam. The result is a book likely to appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For Muslims, this book is worth reading for simply for its final chapter, with its call to reform. The demand that Muslims learn how their values 'are not a seperate order but an integral part of the common concerns of contemporary human dilemmas' is about as potent a summary of progressive Muslim concerns as I have yet heard.

If you are thinking about a book on Islam for non-Muslims new to the faith, or a book for anyone seeking to make sense of the challenges faced by Muslims in 21st century, then this book bests both tasks." - Amazon 5-Star Customer Review.

How can Islam reconcile itself with the 21st century? This No-Nonsense Guide explains the Islamic worldview, examining the Qur’an and Islamic law (sharia), Islam in history, and Islam’s relationship with the West. The authors analyze the struggle within the faith for a more humane and holistic interpretation of their religion, examine issues surrounding women’s rights, economic development and the absence of democracy in some Muslim countries.

This is a balanced portrayal of ‘real Islam’, looking beyond the common perceptions and polemical debates. It shows what Islam has achieved and shows why a better understanding of Muslims is needed throughout the world. But it also explains why Islam needs to make itself more relevant by showing it can create just, tolerant and peaceful society, and explores the steps for reform.

  1. Islam: the Qur'an and Sirah
  2. What is Islam?
  3. The Rightly Guided Caliphs
  4. Expansion and empires
  5. Civilization and learning
  6. Islam and the West
  7. Reform movements
  8. Contemporary issues
  9. Beyond the impasse

About the Authors: Ziauddin Sardar is a writer, broadcaster and cultural critic. Works include Postmodernism and the Other, Orientalism, and Why Do People Hate America?, written with Merryl Wyn Davies. Merryl Wyn Davies is a writer, anthropologist and TV producer. Author of Knowing One Another: Shaping an Islamic Anthropology, she also co-authored the international bestseller Why Do People Hate America?

Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 180 x 110mm
Page extent: 144 pages
Publication date: April 2007 (UK), May 2007 (US)
ISBN-13: 978-1-904456-61-2

Date added: August 28, 2010

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