No god but God: The Origins and Evolution of Islam

Reza Aslan. Delacorte, $16.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-385-73975-7
Packing in a formidable amount of research, legend, and critical analysis, Aslan condenses his adult book of the same name to create a concise introduction to Islam. By breaking up chapters with clear subheadings, maintaining a conversational tone, and incorporating numerous anecdotes that both inform and entertain, Aslan makes 15 centuries of religious history digestible without oversimplifying complex material. Beginning with the economic, interreligious, and cultural context into which Muhammad was born, including the Jewish and Christian understandings of prophecy, Aslan focuses on Muhammad's early life, his growing awareness of his prophetic calling, and his Earthly ministry's focus on social justice, particularly for women and the poor. Aslan details the sociopolitical influences shaping Islam and the written Quran in the decades following Muhammad's death, then segues smoothly into relevant contemporary issues, such as the concept of jihad, the role of women in Islam, and ways in which recent technology has allowed for more diverse interpretations of the Quran. This welcome addition to Islamic studies provides a valuable context for reflection about the origins of issues facing Muslims and their neighbors today. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
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