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Islam: History, Religion, and Politics, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-97230-4
224 pages
December 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
Islam: History, Religion, and Politics, 3rd Edition (1118972309) cover image


Now available in a fully-revised and updated third edition, Islam: History, Religion and Politics, provides a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the core teachings, historical development, and contemporary public struggles of Islam.

  • Features a new chapter on the Arab Spring and the ongoing struggles for representative governance throughout the Muslim world
  • Includes up-to-date analysis of the civil wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, including the rise of terrorist groups like Boko Haram and ISIS
  • Spans Islamic history from the life of Muhammad and the birth of Islamic ideals, through Islam’s phenomenal geographical expansion and cultural development, to the creation of modern states and its role in today’s global society
  • Written by a leading scholar of Islamic studies
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Maps xiii

1 Many Paths to One God: Establishing the Ideals 1

The Quran 1

The Quran and Other Scriptures 7

Themes of the Quran 12

The Exemplary Life of Muhammad, Prophet of Islam:

The Sunna 21

The Early Muslim Community and the Pillars of Islam 24

The Successors (“Caliphs”) 27

Early Communal Disputes 29

Conclusion 31

2 The Pursuit of Knowledge in the Service of God and Humanity: The Golden Age 34

Institutions 35

Law 36

Political Structure 43

Cultural Achievements 45

Spirituality and the Mystical Tradition: Sufism 54

Conclusion 68

3 Division and Reorganization 71

The Crusades and Other Disasters 71

The Decline of the Abbasids and Rise of the Ottomans 77

Persia: The Safavid Empire 84

India and the Rise of the Mughals 87

Understanding Developments in Islamic History 95

Conclusion 99

4 Colonialism and Reform 101

Colonialism 101

The Outcome of World War I 110

The Effects of Colonialism and Themes of Islamic Reform 117

Modern Iterations of Islamic Reform and New Challenges 125

Islamist Approaches to Reform 129

Conclusion: Mainstream Islamists and Radicals 135

5 Contemporary Islam: The Challenges of Democratization and Complications of Global Politics 139

Turkey 141

Iran 144

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and al ]Qaeda 154

Indonesia 166

Tunisia and the Arab Spring 168

What about Terrorism? ISIS, Boko Haram, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah 173

Conclusion: Asking the Right Questions 185

Further Reading 195

Index 000

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Author Information

Tamara Sonn is the Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the History of Islam at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. She has published numerous books, including Interpreting Islam: Bandali Jawzi’s Islamic Intellectual History (1996), Comparing Religions through Law: Judaism and Islam (with J. Neusner, 1999), and most recently The Religion Toolkit: A Complete Guide to Religious Studies (with J. Morreall, Wiley, 2011) and 50 Great Myths About Religion (with J. Morreall, Wiley, 2014). Her work has been translated into Arabic, Bengali, Portugese, and Russian. A senior editor of Oxford Islamic Studies Online, Professor Sonn is also the founding editor-in-chief of Oxford Bibliographies Online–Islamic Studies, and Wiley-Blackwell’s online journal of Religious Studies, Religion Compass.
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Tamara Sonn has given us a superbly written, thoroughly researched, and insightful book that provides an excellent study of one of the world's great faiths. It is an important work that should be read by all who want a true and in-depth understanding of a religion and culture that has a critical role in driving events touching all of us today.
General Anthony C. Zinni USMC

Tamara Sonn's significantly revised edition of Islam: History, Religion, and Politics assures its continued value and relevance as a major comprehensive brief history of Islam and Muslims from the rise and development of Islam to contemporary Islamic thought and politics.
John L Esposito, Georgetown University

Tamara Sonn has undertaken a herculean task: explaining and interpreting Islam, its practice in Muslim societies, its historical origins and trajectory, its core doctrines and eschatology, and its engagement with politics and modernity, for a general audience. She accomplishes this with a unique clarity, insight and objectivity that makes this book an important contribution to our contemporary world. As long as Islam and Muslims are in the news, this book will serve an excellent resource for students, the media and the broader reading public.
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver

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