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No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam

No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam [Kindle Edition]

Reza Aslan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"'Reza Aslan's No God But God is just the history of Islam I needed, judicious and truly illuminating.' A.S. Byatt" (Guardian Books of the Year 2005)

"' a superb narrator, bringing each century to life with vivid details and present tense narration that make popular history so enthralling... Illuminating... Aslan is superb on the origins and richness of Islam.... A terrific read.' Glasgow Herald"

"A revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried... [Aslan's]...careful scholarship and precise language dismantle...false claims and commands... Aslan is acutely perceptive.' Independent"

"'Aslan is an engaging writer, his strength an observer of contemporary challenges facing Islam... Sensitive and generous' Financial Times"

"'Enthralling. A book of tremendous clarity and generosity of spirit.' Jim Crace"

Book Description

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, this remarkable examination of the nature and history of Islam shows how the religion developed and has evolved over time, exploring its central tenets of belief and interpreting its current crisis of modernity.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1042 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (2 Dec 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0034FJG6W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,915 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting analysis 26 April 2006
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
It is quite a task in the Western world, in the post 9-11 world when there are still active warfare situations taking place in two different Islamic country settings, to set out to write a book on the history, culture and heart of Islam as being something other than that which seems to come across in mass media on a daily basis.

The beginning of this text is the Quran - 'It is invaluable in revealing the ideology of the Muslim faith in its infancy: that is, before the faith became a religion, before the religion became an institution.' Aslan states that the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad are grounded in mythology (mythology not as false tales, but rather as stories of the supernatural) which has both credibility and legitimacy in significant ways - these ways are variously interpreted by different groups within the Muslim world.

Within the many chapters, Aslan looks at the early days Islam during the life of the Prophet, the immediate successors of Muhammad, the development of the Shariah and theological positions, and the mystical system of the Sufi. Aslan also looks at the contemporary aspects of Islam by tracing post-colonial sentiments (something still very much at work in the conflicts of the present time) and what Aslan and other have termed the Islamic Reformation, a return to early principles of the Islam that have been obscured in the history of the faith and its interplay with political reality.

Aslan's running motif is that Islam, at its philosophical and theological heart, is a pluralistic system with democracy as the best, final outcome. There is support for this - the long-standing Jewish communities in Babylon and Spain under Islamic rule, the recognition of the validity of Jewish and Christian theological bases by Muhammad, etc.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By Heff
A highly readable account of the origins, history and future of Islam, Aslan's book is suitable both for the interested observer and the serious student of Islam. Beginning with discussions of religious practices in pre-Islamic Arabia, Aslan lays the historical and theological bases for the development of Islam, before describing the life and time of the Prophet himself. Varying between present-tense narrative and detailed analysis, Aslan discusses the revelations themselves, whilst interweaving various historical facts into the tale.

Passing from the Prophet himself to the "Rightly Guided Caliphs", he explores the establishment of the hadith, presenting some interesting, though no doubt controversial, ideas on the inclusion of some of the apparently-more-contradictory of these hadiths. Presenting a full history of this interim period, he also describes the battles for succession in excellent detail, fully explaining the implications of these, and thereby lays the groundwork for a full discussion of Shi'ism. Using this as a springboard, he then analyses the leap between Shi'ism and Khomeinism, carefully interlocking facts and narrative to provide a thoughtful and in-depth critique of Islamic democracy in Iran. He also examines Sufism, explaining its connections with aspects of Islam, but also why some more mainstream thinkers believe it to involve aspects of associationism, rather than to see it as a pure mainfestation of Islam.

Aslan then looks at the rise of nationalism, primarily, though not exclusively, within the Arab world, and gives an excellent overview of the teachings and ideas of the main thinkers and movements of this period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alas not so clearheaded as it should be 27 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Coming to this having read the same author's "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I was expecting the same clear sighted and dispassionate analysis of the historicity of Mohammed. Clearly the authors own Islamic faith has clouded his judgement. Despite the obvious problems he accepts the Koranic and subsequent heroic account of Mohammed's early years, while acknowledging that there is no external verification of the status of Mecca as a key trading post.

His accounts of the various strands of Islam is helpful and worth reading for its current relevance. His forward look is both overoptimistic and far too long
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Aslan seems to speak for a new generation of global Muslims, and for an age he calls the Islamic Reformation. He claims that this age will involve momentous conflict over who defines the meaning of Islam, and that individual Muslims will increasingly take that responsibility for themselves. This book is a powerful, transparent account, covering as Aslan says, "Fourteen hundred years of rabid debate over what it means to be a Muslim; of passionate arguments over the interpretation of the Quran and the application of Islamic law; of trying to reconcile a fractured community through appeals to Divine Unity, of tribal feuds, crusades and world wars -- and Islam has finally begun it's fifteenth century". (p. 248)

I think Aslan manages to free Islamic history from the grip of any special interest group.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A very clear book that makes one face the complexity ...
A very clear book that makes one face the complexity of religious matters. I've discovered the author after reading his outstanding book Zealot, and I hope to study his books more... Read more
Published 6 days ago by E. Schwabe
3.0 out of 5 stars A "liberal" Muslim speaks...... ..And sounds scarey.
I have given this book three stars ,not because I endorse much of the content , but because it is enlightening in an unintended way. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pendragon
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly bias but pleasant read.
I'm very interested in Islam and generally in everything concerning Middle East so I was no ignorant to the book subject that is why rather early on I've noticed that Mr Aslan is a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Magdalena
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written book!
A well written book which seeks to provide informatiom, and does so, in a clear honest and factual style to anyone interested in learning about Islam without feeling in any way... Read more
Published 3 months ago by EMB
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent
Good book on the origins, evolution and future of Islam. Well written, easy to read and a good size (~300 pages). Read more
Published 4 months ago by Adil Hussain
5.0 out of 5 stars Islam in its both historical and geographic context
Middle East prophet attempts to unify desert tribes with revealed message. Within a generation of his death the message is disputed, the leaders of his followers in murderous... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nigel Marshall
1.0 out of 5 stars A sympathetic rather than factual defence of Islam
The book is well written and quite a page turner. Nonetheless I feel the author is biased and emotionally driven by his own faith to provide a defence of Islam and its image to the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by sorabh sharma
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful analysis
The author has given in depth review of the historical facts giving us a book of much substance and details.
Published 7 months ago by Ghulam
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
it is very educational and a must read. Yet,Islam is a peaceful and focussed religion,with established norms and practices.

Published 9 months ago by osiga alli
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Thought provoking and valid for a modern understanding of how Islam became one of the worlds biggest religions and its true meaning to followers.
Published 9 months ago by Emma Stifani
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Religion, it must be understood, is not faith. Religion is the story of faith. &quote;
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After all, religion is, by definition, interpretation; and by definition, all interpretations are valid. However, some interpretations are more reasonable than others. &quote;
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Ever since the Nicene Council in 325 C.E.—which declared Jesus to be both fully God and fully man—and the Council at Chalcedon in 451 C.E.—which entrenched the doctrine of the Trinity into Christian theology—Roman Orthodoxy had &quote;
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