Islam: The Religious and Political Life of a World Community

Islam: The Religious and Political Life of a World Community

Islam: The Religious and Political Life of a World Community

Islam: The Religious and Political Life of a World Community

Synopsis

Written in straight-forward language by leading Islamic scholars, 14 essays cover the basics of Islamic faith and practice, the foundations of state and society, the early Muslim empires, Islamic universalism in the later Middle Ages, and the later Muslim empires.

Excerpt

This volume represents the print component of an Introduction to Islamic Civilization course produced by the Foreign Policy Association in cooperation with National Public Radio and the University of Texas at Austin, funded by the Exxon Education Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is written for the adult reader who has no academic background in either Islam or the Muslim world, and it therefore appears without the scholarly diversions of footnotes or diacritical marks on transliterated words. However, a glossary has been provided for easy reference, as has a bibliography, in the hope that further interest in the field has been stimulated. Islam is a world religion and, particularly in an introductory volume of this size, a great deal that could be said has been left out. It is hoped that the reader will pursue topics of interest for a fuller understanding of events and a richer appreciation of the issues.

The selection of contributors to the book was a painstaking process. the two chief criteria were scholarship and an ability to write for the nonexpert. Those with a background in Islamic studies will be familiar with the names of most of our contributors; readers new to the field need only be aware that care was taken to include material written by Muslim scholars, so that their “inside” perspective is present along with that of “outside, ” non-Muslim observers.

The reader may also note that while a number of authors use examples drawn from Muslim societies outside the Middle East, many of the case studies are Middle Eastern and, particularly, Arab. the explanation is simple: the linguistic and historical links between Islam and Arabic speakers are unique. the Qur'an was re-vealed in Arabic to an Arab in Arabia, and its message was spread by Arabs throughout an area whose heartland became not only Muslim but also Arabic-speaking. Though certainly not regarded as being limited to Arabs (who, in fact, were long ago outnumbered

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