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Islam: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 24 Feb 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (24 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853899
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 10.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Malise Ruthven's book answers the urgent need for an introduction to Islam... He addresses major isssues with clarity and directness, engages dispassionately with the disparate stereotypes and polemics on the subjects, and guides the reader surely through the urgent debates about fundamentalism."--Michael Gilsenan, New York University

About the Author

Malise Ruthven is renowned as a commentator on Islam and the Arab world. A former scriptwriter with the BBC Arabic and World Services, his previous publications include Islam in the World and The Divine Supermarket: Shopping for God in America.


Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is one in a series of introductions to various world religions. It is a very useful book for either the student of religion or the interested person-in-the-street. I should declare a personal interest in that the author was one of my lecturers two years ago before he moved on to better things. The book is written in an accessible style with enough information to inform but not drown the reader. The problem with a book such as this is what to include and what to exclude and although there is nothing missing that should be there, the problem is that the appetite is whetted rather than satisfied. The book discusses a variety of current issues and treats the Islamic position with respect. Well worth buying.
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This pocket-sized volume is an excellent means for the serious reader to move towards an in-depth understanding of Islam. It is well illustrated with photographs and maps, and the author introduces a wealth of Islamic quotations. The vocabulary is academic to a degree, but the sentence structure is straightforward, making it readily accessible for those with a reasonable level of English. Together with its companion volumes on the other major world religions, this is a set book for the Open University course "Introducing Religions" (A217).

Those looking for an easier read might consider "Understanding My Muslim Neighbour", which uses a dialogue form to explore the main characteristics of Islam from a Christian viewpoint.
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I read a lot. I read a lot of history and I enjoy 'dipping in' to subjects that interest me. If I want to go deeper I can. I have read a few of these short introductions now and enjoyed them. This is the first one I felt a need to make a comment about. The author makes a common mistake made by many historical writers. Their academic qualifications have left the general reader behind. There are a lot of big fancy words in this short introduction and they don't need to be there. My humble advice to the author is simplfy everything linguistically, this would be a much better introduction following that rule.
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Format: Paperback
These Very Short Introductions can be a little deceptive- they are not elementary `idiot's guides'. Ruthven's book assumes the reader has a certain amount of background knowledge both in terms of the religion of Islam as well as current affairs. The absolute beginner might find the book a little hard going (as reflected in some of the other readers' Amazon reviews). This book offers an overview of certain critical issues such as Islamism, gender, and problems associated with Shariah Law. Ruthven is keen to draw a distinction between `Islam' the religion, and `Islamism' as political process; (he dismisses the term `Fundamentalist' borrowed, as it is, from Christianity), and anticipates its demise through the increase of pluralism. Elsewhere he notes that through the attacks on America and London, Islamism had demonstrated their nihilism and the moral cul-de-sac they have got themselves into. Ruthven also highlights the impact of the lack of any ordained central religious authority that stands between the believer and God leaving as it does, a power vacuum. All of this makes for a very interesting and informative read; the level of expression is first class. A great deal is achieved in this small book, but it is probably not aimed at the uninformed.
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By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
I know some people have commented that this book came across as obscure and complex, but luckily for me I didn't find that. I found it incredibly helpful and illuminating in what is a deeply complex religion. The key facts that I was able to take away with me have helped to shape my understanding of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. I thought that it was well written and extremely interesting.
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Format: Paperback
I got hold of this book hoping for some short, snappy answers to a lot of basic questions I had about islam. Big mistake. Ruthven falls into the worst academic style, where obscure words are used (Sublunary? Numinous?) instead of perfectly sufficient everyday ones. One suspects this is a poor attempt to

make the author appear smart to the reader, but Ruthvens rambling sentence structures fail to convey much meaning. I found my self having to fight the text a great deal to extract any information or arguments from it, a crime in any writing but especially when it bears the title "a short introduction". Short on facts and very long on waffle.
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I love the idea of these very short introductions. The series is an excellent idea. However I've really struggled with this one. It feels like the author has tried to cope with the shortness of the book by making some very long sentences! Hard to understand and confusing with lots of unfamiliar names. Not really what I was hoping for.
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Format: Paperback
A very short, useful introduction for those with an interest in Islam. Relevant to today; this does not give the reader an encyclopaedic knowledge, but is very helpful, gentle introduction to more complex and difficult texts. After all, you can fit this book in a pocket, and you couldn't do that with a full history!
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