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Islam: The Straight Path [Paperback]

John L. Esposito
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

16 Feb 2012
edited by John L. Esposito.

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Islam: The Straight Path + Introducing Islam (World Religions)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; Fourth Edition edition (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195396006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195396003
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"This is an excellent, comprehensive, and highly accessible introduction to Islam and its civilization; Muslims and their societies in the pre-modern to the modern period; and contemporary intellectual and political trends. In my opinion, it really is the single best introduction to Islam and Muslims today. The book keeps getting better and better with each new edition!"--Asma Afsaruddin, University of Notre Dame"I have to commend OUP for its commitment to revising and updating this important book. Esposito writes in a lucid, accessible, and direct style that allows the book to be an excellent introduction for novice students. Esposito illustrates the rare ability of being comprehensive without being reductive."--Febe Armanios, Middlebury College

About the Author

Now in a new edition, this exceptionally successful survey text introduces the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary resurgence. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of this dynamic faith and its impact on world history and politics. Lucidly written and expansive in scope, Islam: The Straight Path, Fourth Edition, provides keen insight into one of the world's least understood religions. It is ideally suited for use in courses on Islam, comparative religions, and Middle Eastern history and culture.

NEW TO THE FOURTH EDITION:

* A revised Chapter 5, "Religion and Politics," provides more focused and up-to-date coverage of Osama bin Laden's influence and the continued growth of extremism; the relationship of Islam to violence; the meaning of jihad and the origins of a global jihad ideology; the role of suicide bombing; and the influence of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islam.

* An updated Chapter 6, "The Struggle for Islam in the 21st Century," covers Muslim responses to new social and political contexts and presents the diverse and competing positions—from traditionalist to modernist—of contemporary Muslim leaders on issues of religious authority, women's rights, Shariah, violence, and terrorism.

* More extensive treatment of early Islam in Chapters 1 and 2

* An enhanced art program featuring twenty-one photos and three maps

* A new appendix that includes an extensive timeline of key events in the history of Islam

* A FREE 6-month subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online (www.oxfordislamicstudies.com), edited by John L. Esposito. Please look inside for details.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 6 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellenti book: One of those you must reed - books.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Islam 3 Mar 2003
By Sadia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Straight Path is a straightforward and accessible historical introduction to Islam theology, politics, and law. John Esposito, the author, begins with Muhammad and the Quran, basic Islamic dogma, and the creation of the Islamic community. He then sketches the history of the Islamic world in the medieval period, covering the Umayyads, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Crusades and the later Islamic empires, which are Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. Some of the divisions within Islam are the Sunni/Shia spilt, the Ismailis, the Druze and the diversity of its mystical and legal traditions.
Next, Esposito explains Islamic theology and law in depth. Medieval theological conflicts centered on the relationship of faith, the status of grave sinners, and the connection between the absolute power of God and human free will. An essential figure was the tenth century synthesizer al-Ashari, whose followers became the leaders of the dominant school of Sunni theology. The five pillars of Islam are the professions of faith, prayer, almsgiving, the Ramadan fast and Hajj; the pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, Esposito also touches on family law - divorce and inheritance, the relation between customary practice and Quranic prescription by showing the rules about veiling and seclusion, Sufism and Shia differences.
With its primarily historic approach, The Straight Path only succeeds to give a feel for the role Islam plays in the lives of particular believers. Overall, The Straight Path works well, giving a moral feel for Islam's ancient depth and geographical reach.
59 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to Islam 12 Aug 2000
By Tim Paris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most westerners equate Islam with terrorism. The reason is simple: Muslims rarely make the evening news unless engaged in hijackings, suicide bomb attacks or bloody confrontations with Israelis or with their co-religionists. In this 3rd edition of his book on Islam, John Esposito does much to correct this and other pervasive misconceptions surrounding this great world religion.
Esposito traces the historical development of Islam from its genesis with Muhammad and the Quran, through the great ages of Islamic fluorescence and expansion-- the Umayyad (661-750) and Abbasid (750-1258) caliphates -- right up to the modern period, when "neorevivalists" struggled to reconcile the fundamental principles of Islam with secular and western-dominated contemporary life.
Along the way, Esposito elaborates the basic tenets of Islam, describes the great Muslim thinkers and their ideas and explains clearly the basic interpretations and movements (e.g., Shiism, Sufism) which have animated the development of the Muslim religion over the centuries. He also describes the different turns Islam has taken in different political contexts (contrast secular Turkey with the theocracies of Saudi Arabia and the Sudan).
The picture of Islam which emerges from Esposito's treatment is one of considerable complexity, yet always anchored in the fundamental principles adumbrated in the Quran. Islam: The Straight Path is perhaps the best introduction to Islamic belief and history in print. The 250 page text is accompanied by a bibliography and a helpful glossary. This book is highly recommended for students being introduced to Islam and its history and, indeed, for anyone interested in learning something of the world's second largest religion.
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Introductory Text on Islam 28 Mar 2004
By Corn Soup - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is by far the best introductory text on Islam that I have encountered. The important thing to keep in mind is that it is an introductory text, and its function as such should be kept in mind. The book provides an excellent overview, broken down into 6 different issues/subjects of the Islamic world, and the text is further broken down into clearly delineated and manageable chunks, just as an introductory text should be. Especially good is the elegant and concise way in which the history of the beginnings of Islam are laid out. Perhaps less strong is some of the discussion of the different ways that Muslims have approached the issue of reforming Islam, which I found to be repetitive and vague at the same time.
One person was disappointed that the author often mentions a lot of names and concepts, and then doesn't describe them much. Well, that is the PURPOSE of an introductory text, to introduce people to ideas that they can then pursue further in specialized texts if they are interested. Similary, why would one expect to find information on minority non-Islam religious groups or the African slave trade in a book about Islam? The former would be found in a comparitive religion text, the latter, perhaps in a history of Islamic people, but not an introductory text on Islam.
26 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars balanced and respectful 26 Jun 2011
By infinityhiker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a well-written, accessible and challenging introduction to Islam. Esposito does an excellent job of showing the diversity within Islam and the political and cultural influences upon it along with thoroughly presenting Islam's development and theology. He presents the authentic Islam practiced by the majority of Muslims rather than the media hype that focuses on extremists. He is balanced, respectful, and thorough. Being western, Esposito's own worldview does come through somewhat in his conclusions about how Muslims should respond to the modern world but he does so without compromising the accuracy or academic nature of his work. Esposito has a genuine appreciation for Islam and her people and sees its rich cultural heritage as well as the current struggles facing the larger community.
16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best there is 2 May 2005
By 3rdeadly3rd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What John Esposito doesn't know about Islam is probably either not worth knowing or of interest only to serious specialists in their esoteric debates. As a result, "Islam: The Straight Path" can be heartily recommended.

Esposito introduces this religion, arguably the most important one for the West to understand at the present time, in plain and simple English. He outlines the history of the faith, from Muhammad through the early Caliphate and into the age of the great empires based on Islamic bedrock. He also explains the basic traditions and practices of Islam, while devoting considerable energy to explaining how the faith interacts with the modern world - an important concept for any serious study of religion.

Unlike many introductory texts on Islam, Esposito does not trivialise certain points, such as the Shi'a tradition of succession to the prophet. Rather, he presents a balanced explanation of how the division between Sunni and Shi'a Islam came about - as well as demonstrating why the two groups are in fact much closer to each other than the media might try to claim. This is illustrative of his approach throughout this masterful work.

Esposito comments early that he will avoid the diacritics so common in academic writing about Islam and the Arabic language. While this might dismay some specialists, it serves to "de-alienise" the concepts presented here - which is entirely the point.

As a brief anecdote about the usefulness of this book, I first came across it on a booklist for a very introductory course on Islam I was taking. Since completing that course, I have moved into the field of Islamic Studies permanently and have never had this book out of my sight during research. Not only are Esposito's remarks on aspects of the faith very well-written, he also provides suggestions of other sources to consult.

This book can be recommended to anyone keen to learn about Islam. Regardless of one's background knowledge or lack thereof, Esposito will prove a very useful addition to a bookshelf.
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