Introduction to Islam

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 the 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 Islam’s beginnings in the prophetic mission and the Sunni-Shi’a schism, to the rise of legal schools, the construction of the “Islamic sciences,” and its various currents of theology and philosophy, including mysticism (Sufism). The six pillars of faith are also presented, along with the five pillars of practice, Islam’s prescribed rights, duties, and prohibitions, the principles of Muslim mysticism, and the elements of Islamic philosophy and ethics. The final two chapters focus on the modern era, offering a broad overview of the debates and controversies that are shaking Muslim-majority societies today and reshaping the lives of those who live as minorities elsewhere.

First of all you should know I’m an Irish Catholic so I was very grateful for the opportunity to read this to learn more about Islam from a pre-eminent source.

I was raised by a father who was insistent we learn and respect other faiths because our own family had suffered severe losses for the crime of being Catholic in Ireland. He taught us about the Tanakh, Quran, and other sacred scriptures to find balance with the Catholic Bible used in our own culture.

In the States I often see and hear about those in the Muslim faith being treated very similarly to the way my own family was and do not want to be counted among the ignorant. I feel those who are of a similar mind in wanting to enrich their understanding would do well to pick this up.

This text was written so that you could have absolutely no familiarity or a media educated familiarity to Islam and be able to easily grasp the tenets of the faith. There is no reason a person who thoroughly reads this work and takes time to understand what the author is teaching can walk away still feigning ignorance of this beautiful faith.

His writing style is so easy to follow that this is less like those boring texts you feel forced to read for class and more like a journey to something deeper and more meaningful. You can’t help but get caught up in the passion whispering through his words and become enthralled with the truth of what Muslims seek.

Even a Non-Muslim, such as myself, can appreciate and enjoy what is being taught on these pages. I ended feeling like not only had I learned about something far greater than myself but felt like I finally understood why my father pushed us to explore beyond the mass and rosaries we use in our culture. I have come away with believing not only is it possible to believe in different things but to understand and accept another’s position without feeling like my own is threatened.

I hope others take the time to study this book and find a mesmerizing experience as well.

Thank you to Netgalley and Oxford University Press for allowing me to review this book.

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