The Worlds of Islam

Photographer Peter Sanders offers arresting images of Muslim life around the globe in In the Shade of the Tree: A Photographic Odyssey Through the Muslim World. Sanders's use of light and shadow shows him to be a true artist; the simplicity of these photos is glorious. There are exterior (and even some stunning interior) shots of mosques, including Beijing's 1,000-year-old Niujie Mosque and Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as astonishing portraits of individuals. Sanders includes photos from much of the Muslim world, including West Africa, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey. (Starlatch, $34.95 120p ISBN 1-929694-14-8; Aug.)

"It is critical for us in the West to understand that much of what we have been given to believe are true Muslim religious attitudes toward women are NOT ISLAMIC!," writes Lisa Spray in the introduction to Women's Rights, the Quran & Islam. If the capital letters don't spell out the author's passion, it becomes evident in subsequent chapters on veiling, polygamy, hajj, divorce and Quran study, among other topics. Spray, who converted to Islam in the 1970s, gives a highly personal and strident reading of the Quran, which she maintains is the revealed word of God and promotes equality between men and women. The writing can be very rough, but Spray's voice is welcome. (BSM [dist. Ingram], $27.95 280p ISBN 0-9714813-4-2; $17.95 paper ISBN -3-4; Sept.)

Osho Rajneesh

Signature continues its valuable Studies in Contemporary Religion series with Osho Rajneesh, a brief synopsis of the controversial spiritual leader who is usually known as "Osho." The larger-than-life founder of Dynamic Meditation, Osho (1931—1990) attracted thousands of followers while also infuriating various members of established religious traditions with his flagrant sexuality, egotistical attitudes and indulgent materialism. Author Judith Fox does surprising justice to Osho in a succinct (fewer than 60 pages) but balanced treatment, presenting an accessible introduction to the infamous guru. ($12.95 paper 56p ISBN 1-56085-156-2; Aug.)

More Small Miracles

There's nothing "small" about the huge success that Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal's Small Miracles series has enjoyed. With over a million copies sold, the series' heartwarming true-to-life stories have clearly struck a chord. In August, Adams Media Corporation releases the fifth in the series (and the first to be directed at a particular religious tradition): Small Miracles for the Jewish Heart. Like its predecessors, its strength lies in personal stories: a warm and funny tale about a mother's quest for a Cabbage Patch doll (whose assigned name turned out to be a hybrid of the names of both of the child's deceased grandmothers); a chilling what-if story about a man who narrowly escaped death on September 11. ($9.95 256p ISBN 1-58062-548-7; Aug.)

Science and Faith

Templeton Prize—winning scientist John Polkinghorne echoes familiar themes of rapprochement in Traffic in Truth: Exchanges Between Science and Theology. He presents the main argument he has trumpeted before—that science and religion have much to teach each other and are engaged in a mutual quest for truth—but in a shorter and more accessible format than he has offered in the past. Drawing upon his expertise in mathematics, physics and theology (Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest as well as an emeritus professor at Cambridge), he is persuasive in his argument that theology and science share "a common cause." (Fortress, $6 paper 64p ISBN 0-8006-3579-5; Sept.)

The Christian Retreat

What kinds of retreats are available for Christians? How much do they cost? What is "spiritual direction"? Once I am on a retreat, how in the world am I supposed to fill the hours? Margaret Silf provides answers to these questions and more in Going on Retreat: A Beginner's Guide to the Christian Retreat Experience. The book is heavily weighted toward a more liturgical Christian experience, with a separate chapter on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius; most of the retreat centers listed in the appendix are Roman Catholic or Anglican (Episcopalian). Silf is a fine writer and the book is full of wise spiritual counsel as well as practical tips. (Loyola, $10.95 paper 200p ISBN 0-8294-1994-2; Sept.)