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In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur'an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of Christianity and Judaism, including the monotheistic belief in a single God. Islam is too often confusing and even opaque to those unfamiliar with it.
The Handy Islam Answer Book, is clearly and eloquently written by John Renard, Ph.D., a scholar of Islam with more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. He provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion. Renard explains the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur'an, Islamic law, and much more. This engaging primer is a resource for reliable information about Islam and Muslims and it brings an understanding of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them. Truly a must-have reference for our changing and trying times, this user-friendly guide answers nearly 800 questions and offers fun facts that cover Islamic history, religious practices, and Muslim cultural perspectives, including
• When did Islam begin? • Why is Mecca a holy city for Muslims? • Do Muslims worship Muhammad? • What was the fate of Medieval Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land? • What do Muslims mean by the term "Allah"? • What does the crescent moon and star symbol mean to Muslims? • What is the Muslim call to prayer”? Is it similar to church bells”? • Do Muslims believe that God tests” people? • Does Muhammad play a role in Islamic spirituality in a manner similar to Jesus’ role in Christianity? • Is jihad a legal concept for Muslims? • Is it true that Muhammad both preached and engaged in military campaigns? • Do Muslims, Christians, and Jews worship the same God”? • Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim parts of Israel/Palestine as Holy Land”? • Why do some people, such as the Taliban, not want girls to get an education? • Does Islam require wearing face veils? • Does Islam have theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers? • Is there any similarity between Muslim and Christian art?
Muslims are diverse, and they have a vast spectrum of views about Islam. The Handy Islam Answer Book aims for understanding, which is the first step to uniting, instead of dividing. This helpful books provides a historic timeline, a glossary of commonly used terms, a genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and beyond, a calendar of major observances, and a bibliography help further exploration of one of the world’s great religions.
John Renard, Ph.D. received his doctorate in Islamic studies from Harvard University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1973. He teaches courses in Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, religion and the arts, and comparative theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. He has written extensively on Islam. His most recent books include Friends of God: Islamic Images of Piety, Commitment, and Servanthood (2008), Tales of God’s Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation (2009), and Islam and Christianity: Theological Themes in Comparative Perspective (2011), all for University of California Press. He also authored Visible Ink Press’s popular comparative religion primer, The Handy Religion Answer Book.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments Introduction Part One: Historical Perspectives 1. Origins and early expansion 2. Islam’s Growth into a Global Community 3. Politics and Contemporary Global Affairs Part Two: Religious Perspectives 4. Sacred Sources and their Interpretation 5. Essential Beliefs 6. Symbols, Rituals, and Religious Observances 7. Themes in Islamic Spirituality 8. Authority, Law and Ethics 9. Islam and Other Faiths Part Three: Cultural Perspectives Learning and Communicating Islamic Values 10. Culture and Religion 11. Knowledge, Scholarship, and the Islamic Humanities 12. Aesthetics, Literature, the Visual and Spatial Arts
Suggestions for Further Reading Global Timeline Glossary Index