Islam in the World

Islam in the World

Islam in the World

Islam in the World

Synopsis

This valuable introductory guide provides a complete and lively summary of Islam, one of the most worldly of the great religions, in which the quest for spiritual fulfillment is inevitably bound up with political aspirations. Malise Ruthven presents a full overview of the religion in its historical, geographic, and social settings. For this revised and long-awaited second edition, Ruthven divides his original chapters into more accessible sub-sections and provides new headings. Also included is a new concluding chapter that focuses on women in Islam, the challenges Islam faces in today's climate of globalization, and the key developments in Islamic political history since 1984--an especially fertile period that has seen, among other things, the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and the controversial publication of Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Islam and the World, Second Edition likewise features a new preface, redrawn maps, updated data on population and dispersal, and a new chronology of events with genealogical charts.

Excerpt

Since this book first appeared in 1984, there has been a swelling tide of English books about Islam, many of very high quality. As a student of religion who has also lectured on the subject at universities in Britain and the United States, I have become increasingly aware of my book's shortcomings in trying to address a vastly complex and variegated subject in a relatively short amount of space. The academic in me knows that almost any statement one makes about a topic is open to challenge. At the same time the journalist knows that the reader wants a story with clearly demarcated themes.

When first I wrote this book I tried to find the balance between scholarly fastidiousness and journalistic accessibility. My project was doubtless over-ambitious. The subject area it attempts to cover embraces the beliefs, cultural practices, legal traditions and politics of approximately one thousand million people, about a fifth of humanity. Nevertheless the warm response that greeted the first edition indicated that I had found a small but significant niche. Islam in the World partially filled the need for a general book that was introductory in the sense that it did not require a prior knowledge of the subject, without being elementary or simplistic. Lamentably, in a Western world that is home to millions of Muslims, to be without even a basic knowledge of Islam is not yet deemed to imply a lack of sophistication.

In preparing this new edition I have updated sections dealing with current events, and added a section on developments up to 1999. I have also made significant changes to Chapter 4 in the fight of recent scholarly research. At the same time I have not attempted to revise everything in the fight of the hopefully more refined and detailed knowledge I have acquired in the intervening years. What probably makes this book different from others, whether written by scholars, critics or apologists, is its genesis as an 'outsider's' or non-specialist's encounter with a world that is elemental yet rich in its diversity . . .

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