Whether the issue is violence, terrorism, women's rights or slavery, Muslims today are expected to provide answers and to justify what Islam is-or is not. But little opportunity exists, either in the media or in society as a whole, to describe Islam. In simple, direct language, An Introduction to Islam introduces readers to Islam and to its principles, rituals, diversity, and evolution.
Tariq Ramadan focuses upon the realities of Islam today. Avoiding ideology and idealism, Ramadan brings to life an essence of the true meaning of Islam and its implications today. No prior knowledge of Islam is required; the book makes the complexity of Islam easy to understand by looking closely at its multi-faceted reality as a religion, and at the civilization that arose from it. The book begins with definitions, and basic principles of Islam. It then delves into history: from the beginnings in the prophetic mission and the Sunni-Shi'a schism, to the rise of legal schools and the construction of the "Islamic sciences," and to its theological, philosophic mainstream, and mystical (Sufi) undercurrents. The six pillars of faith will also be presented, along with the five pillars of practice, as well as Islam's prescribed rights, duties and prohibitions, the principles of Muslim mysticism and the elements of Islamic philosophy and ethics. The two final chapters focus on the modern era, offering a broad overview of the debates and controversies that are shaking Muslim-majority societies, and reshaping the lives of those who live as minorities elsewhere.