The House of Islam: A Global History

Ed Husain. Bloomsbury, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63286-639-4
In this lucid work, Husain, scholar of religion and adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, gives an overview of the history, theology, and social mores of Islam. Covering an impressive amount of detail in a short span, he efficiently lays out the historical context of modern Islamic sects before providing a trenchant analysis of contemporary issues. The majority of the book covers much of the same material as other basic introductions to Islam: a biography of the prophet Mohammed, an explanation of the divide between Sunni and Shi’a, an overview of the status of women, a synopsis of Islamic education systems, and a discussion of perspectives on Judaism. Husain’s unique contribution is coverage of the internal diversity of Islam (both historically and around the world today) that is often obscured from Western eyes. In outlining Sufism and other schools of interpretation, Husain contrasts the pluralism practiced in Muslim societies of the past with the stance of modern fundamentalists, masterfully explaining how this transition toward isolationism occurred over time. By explaining the contours of global Islam, Husain ends up making a strong case against Koranic textual literalism that readers of all backgrounds will appreciate. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/17/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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