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An Introduction to Islam (Introduction to Religion) Paperback – 6 Nov 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (6 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521539064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521539067
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Reviewers do not always agree with writers of blurbs, but in this case the reviewer must … the book really is essential reading for all those interested in Islamic history and culture.' Geoffrey Lewis , Asian Affairs

'The merits of this book are several: it is a scholarly work, it is well-researched and clearly presented … it is surprisingly comprehensive for an introductory text.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

'David Waines has surely written what will deservedly be the standard introduction to Islam for some time.' Oliver Leaman , Expository Times

'… an elegantly written work as useful to the new student daunted by the complexity of Islamic discourse as to the more experienced Muslim who sometimes wonders about the difference between shari'a and fiqh … Highly recommended.' Periodica Islamica

'Fluent, thoughtful and open-minded.' Aramco World

"Waines writes clearly, eloquently and with style and precision." Andrew Rippon , Der Islam

"Western businessmen would be advised that 'You can't afford to leave on your next trip to a Muslim country without placing this book on your list of essentials to take along.'" Middle East Library Association Notes

Book Description

For this revised and updated Second Edition, David Waines has added a long section tackling head-on the issues arising from Islam's place in the changing world order at the turn of the new millennium. This new section offers thought-provoking reflections on the place of religion in the current conflicts.

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The religious and moral values of the ancient Arabs are mirrored, however partially, in the verses of their poets. Read the first page
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "gmgjkfjkg" on 20 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a good book from the point of view that it covers all aspects of Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to present times. However the author writes in a dull and unexciting manner that makes reading the book a hard and painful experience.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for any student of religion who wants an in-depth study of the Islamic tradition. Comprehensive and easy to read. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very useful for my degree course
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Books on Islam 25 Aug. 2011
By C P Slayton - Published on
Format: Paperback
(Caveat: This is a review of the 1995 publication. This 2004 one has additional notes on contemporary Islam. I think my review is still valid.) There are a lot of books out there on Islam and the number is growing. This book was published in 1995 (2004), before the great spike in Islamic and Arabic studies hit Universities all over. Having said that, there is something remarkable about how David Waines gives clearer insights on Islam than the more tailored works of the post-9/11 era.

Perhaps that is what makes this book one of the better introductions to Islam. Waines doesn't base Islam on the "five-pillars" which in reality are not theological pillars in Islam at all but just ethical pillars of obedience. Waines digs into Islamic theology, which is the best 'introduction' to Islam. Waines looks at the history of the schools of Islamic theology and explains well their origins.

If your understanding of Islam does not include what Ash'ari and Mu'tazilite doctrines are then you need to read a book on Islam that doesn't just introduce the practice but the teaching that then influences the practice. Waines is it. Even if scholars may not agree completely with Waines' take on all the elements he presents, the fact that he presented them all gives him great credit.

Waines doesn't leave Sufism and Shi'ism out to dry either like so many Islamic works focusing on what they consider the important 'orthodox' teachings. Sufism is very widespread. Shi'a Muslims make up over 10% of all Muslims. Waines allows an entire chapter to trace the beginnings of each branch touching not only on history but theology.

Lastly Waines takes the theological discourse and applies it to the 19th and 20th century in order to understand the reform movements in Islam. Even if Muslim theology was pretty well established in all schools by the 12th century A.D. there have still been movements within the streams that have influenced the modern practice of Islam.

At 280 pages this is well worth the read and takes the place of a dozen other books of fifty pages or less.
Probably the best introdcutory textbook 20 Sept. 2013
By Basil - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have examined parts of all of the introductory textbooks on Islam. This one by David Waines remains among the best. Occasionally I teach about Islam. Therefore, I must review the introductory books every few years to see if I am still using the best book. In addition to being far more reasonably priced than other introductions, such as those by Frederick Denny and Daniel Brown, it is also sounder. David Waines does not feel a need to indulge in speculations regarding the "origins" of Islam, something that mars Denny's first chapter. Nor does Waines feel the need to defend any parts of Islam. He just tells it straight and this is a great relief.

Among the various chapters, Waines is strongest when it comes to theology. The chapter on Sufism may be the weakest part of the book. The chapter on Shiism is always something I feel needs to supplemented, since Waines does not fully explain the deep theological differences between Sunnism and Shiism. If you are looking for a text that gives an outline of history, this is not the best book. But really history is the easiest part to supplement. None of this is to denigrate the book. I would not even say that these are necessarily "weaknesses". They just happen to be the parts where Waines does not focus as much as other authors might.

For anyone who wants to get a first introduction to the general outline of Islamic teachings, this is an excellent place to begin. It is very good to complement it with something along the lines of S. H. Nasr's The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity or Joseph Lumbard's Submission, Faith & Beauty: The Religion of Islam.
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