Islam: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles) Hardcover – 1 Aug 2000
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The picture of Islam as a violent, backward, and insular tradition should be laid to rest, says Karen Armstrong, bestselling author of Muhammad and A History of God. Delving deep into Islamic history, Armstrong sketches the arc of a story that begins with the stirring of revelation in an Arab businessman named Muhammad. His concern with the poor who were being left behind in the blush of his society's new prosperity sets the tone for the tale of a culture that values community as a manifestation of God. Muhammad's ideas catch fire, quickly blossoming into a political empire. As the empire expands and the once fractured Arabs subdue and overtake the vast Persian domain, the story of a community becomes a panoramic drama. With great dexterity, Armstrong narrates the Sunni-Shi'ite schism, the rise of Persian influence, the clashes with Western crusaders and Mongolian conquerors, and the spiritual explorations that traced the route to God. Armstrong brings us through the debacle of European colonialism right up to the present day, putting Islamic fundamentalism into context as part of a worldwide phenomenon. Islam: A Short History, like Bruce Lawrence's Shattering the Myth and Mark Huband's Warriors of the Prophet, introduces us to a faith that beckons like a minaret to those who dare to venture beyond the headlines. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.
"A small gem bristling with insight." --"The Washington Post"
"A valuable corrective to the hostile caricatures of Islam that circulate in the English-speaking world. . . . Engaging and provocative." --"The New York Times"
"Karen Armstrong, a respected and popular author of several books about religion . . . takes on a useful and formidable task in presenting the history of Islam in a single short volume. As many other such works have been written either by apologists or by those hostile to Islam, Armstrong's comprehensive and sympathetic work is welcome." --"Los Angeles Times"
"In Armstrong's brisk narrative, the cliches evaporate fast. . . . A book like this is suddenly essential." --"Entertainment Weekly"
A small gem bristling with insight. "The Washington Post"
A valuable corrective to the hostile caricatures of Islam that circulate in the English-speaking world. . . . Engaging and provocative. "The New York Times"
Karen Armstrong, a respected and popular author of several books about religion . . . takes on a useful and formidable task in presenting the history of Islam in a single short volume. As many other such works have been written either by apologists or by those hostile to Islam, Armstrong s comprehensive and sympathetic work is welcome. "Los Angeles Times"
In Armstrong s brisk narrative, the cliches evaporate fast. . . . A book like this is suddenly essential." "Entertainment Weekly"" --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is written in a very approachable manner and would be understandable to even the beginners. But having said that, there are so many details covered in this one book (even if as brief references) that I couldn't help but admire the effort put into her work. I started off not expecting too much (thinking I know it all any way), but ended up finding so much new stuff and refreshing what I knew before to be true. And the best thing was that it gives us a different prospective of things. It makes us think about things we usually take as a given (either for religious or social reasons), hence closing our minds to them. Also makes us think logically about historical facts we believe to be true but usually tend to look at them just from a religious view point and hence not being able to appreciate them to the full.
So all in all, I very much recommend this book to any one who would like to study the fastest growing religion in the world. It takes away a lot of stereo types about Islam (and made me want to further study a lot of personalities and events mentioned in this book.) and brings things into prospective.
Several useful appendices add significantly to the value of this book. These include a very detailed chronology recording every major date, event and development, an alphabetical list of key figures, a glossary of Arabic terms and a detailed list of suggested further reading material
The book is worth reading for the value of the final section alone entitled "Islam Agonistes" where Armstrong moves out of her abstract "narrator" mode and provides a profound analysis of the contemporary Muslim situation vis-à-vis the West, modern technological society and the challenges of secular modernity for Muslims. Her conclusion is that many Muslim societies have commitments and attachments to their faith which they are unwilling to jettison wholesale similar to Christians in the West. They would like to participate in the modern world but on their own terms, whilst remaining faithful to the central tenets of their own religious understanding.
I gave the book 4 stars as opposed to 5 because - as a practising Muslim who has experienced being a member of the faith for many years - I was unable to relate fully with Armstrong's central thesis - namely that the supreme Islamic mission is the establishment of a just society.Read more ›
Armstrong writes well and for the most part mixes historical facts with he own interpretations in a way that is both informative and enightening....more support for some of here assertions in the form of quotations from the Koran would have helped.
At times there is just too much detail. Caliphs, Imans and other leaders come and go so quickly it becomes quite bewildering.
However the final section on Islam in the modern world is excellent, and should probably be compulsory reading for everyone!
I certainly felt I learnt about the essence of islam as well as the historical facts, and would recommend this to anyone want to know more about this religion.
Despite these problems this a deeply well written and informative book. I took this book out of the library and Iam considering buying a copy, Its just that good.
Chronologically developed the writer attempts to explore Islamic history and challenge misconceptions of its current climate.
The insight allows the reader an understanding into contemporary world issues on the faith through objective historical analysis. A must for one looking for an impassionate summation on the subject, as a lead to further research or alternatively for a genuine understanding of the religion and it's effect on the world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Laughably bad. For example: "we must realize that democracy is [only] made possible by an industrialized society which has the technology to replicate it's resources... Read morePublished 1 month ago by CTapp
Karen Armstrong has a very expert grasp of religion and religions. This book is very readable and makes cogent arguments to explain where we are with Islam. Read morePublished 2 months ago by M. M. Otway
Overall there is a fair account of Muslim history but I find some opinions and conclusions to be based on very limited information (only so much has been translated in to English)... Read morePublished 2 months ago by K. Hussain
A factual and interesting account of this complicated story.hhPublished 4 months ago by Christopher Campling
The authoress interprets Islam according to her own romantic delusions. The facts of history cannot be changed by concealing or distorting the evidence. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jennifer
Interesting history of Islam just a little heavy to read in parts I found.Published 5 months ago by Gail Dyson