United for Peace of Pierce County (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper XXV: Oct. 30, 2006, 7:00 p.m.

John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, revised third edition updated with new epilogue (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005; 1st ed. 1988). [Dedication] “For Jeanette P. Esposito” (v). Preface to the Revised Third Edition. September 11 was “a tragic turning point” causing a reversion to “fears, animosities, and stereotypes” (ix-x). Third edition adds material on the origins and growth of extremism in Islam (x). Introduction. Media images of obscured the reality of Islam (xiii-xiv). “This volume seeks to explain the faith, the belief, and the doctrines of Islam. It provides a guide to understanding how Islam has developed” (xiv). Outline of book (xiv-xvi). Ch. 1: Muhammad and the Quran: Messenger and Message. Book focuses on “the core of beliefs, practices, and institutions” of the world’s “perhaps 900 million” Muslims, while also noting differences (1-2; cf. “”more than 1.3 billion Muslims” [270]). Arabian tribal society and culture (2-4). Islam’s origins are found in this society and in Near Eastern monotheism (4-5). Muhammad’s life, prophecy, and first ten years of preaching (5-8). Hijra (migration) to Medina in 622 C.E. marks beginning of umma (Islamic community) and, officially, Muslim history (8). Muhammad wins over Mecca in 630 and most of Arabia by his death in 632 (9-11). Moral exemplar (11-12). The reformer, not the founder, of Islam (12-14). His treatment of Jewish tribes (15-16) and his polygynous marriages have been the object of Western polemics (16-17). The Quran: 144 chapters, 6,000 verses, revealed over 22 years, arranged by length of chapters, about 4/5 of the length of the New Testament: regarded by Muslims as pure revelation after the Jewish and Christian scriptures were corrupted (17-20). Islamic teaching on prophecy and revelation (20-22). Allah as unitary, transcendent, just, and compassionate (22-24). The Quranic universe of heaven, earth, and hell, with angels as the links between Allah and humans (25-27). No doctrine of original sin (27-28). The Muslim community’s mission is “to create a moral social order” (28-30). Doctrine of the Last Judgment (30-31). Ch. 2: The Muslim Community in History. Muhammad’s ‘extends’ authority over Arabia; soldiers as missionaries (32-33). The Muslim conquests: “Contrary to popular belief, the early conquests did not seek to spread the faith through forced conversion but to spread Muslim rule” (34-35). After Muhammad’s death, the caliphate of the “Rightly Guided Caliphs” lasted until 661 (35-38). Muslim society briefly characterized: Arab Muslims as the elite, followed by non-Arab converts to Islam, dhimmi or non-Muslim People of the Book, and slaves (38-40). With the Umayyads, an Arab kingdom is created (40-41), but Muslim unity breaks up: Kharijites (41-43), Shiites (43-45), Ismailis (45-47), Druze (47-48). Ulamas (religious scholars) and the Sufis (mystics) emerged as dynamic sources of criticism and change (48-50). The Abbasid Caliphate (8th-13th c.) as the flowering of Islamic civilization (51-57). Weakness (13th-15th c.) (60). The centuries-long Crusades; Muslims contrast the rapacity of Richard the LionHearted with the mercifulness of Saladin (57-60). The sultanate period (16th c. on): Ottoman, Persian, and Mughal empires (60-67). Ch. 3: Religious Life: Belief and Practice. Conforming to God’s law is

more important than belief in Islam (68). Muslim theology (68-74). Historical development of Muslim law (75-78). Four sources of law: Quran, tradition (hadith), reasoning by analogy, and community consensus (78-84). Four schools of legal thinking (84-85). Sharia courts (85-87). Five Pillars of Islam: Profession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, Ramadan fast, pilgrimage (hajj) (88-93). Muslim family law (93-98). Custom’s influence on Sharia: veiling and seclusion are Persian and Byzantine customs adopted by Islam and given Koranic legitimation (98-100). Sufism (100-09). Shii religious practices (109-14). Ch. 4: Modern Interpretations of Islam. Social and moral decline of sultanate period produced premodern revivalism through Islam’s internal dynamic (11518). 18th-c. Wahhabi movement (11819). African revivalist movements (11921). Indian premodern revivalism (12125). Islamic modernism as a response to the challenge of the West (126-27). Afghani (1838-1897) calls for ijtihad (12730). Abduh (1849-1905) and Rida (18651935), great synthesizers (130-34). In India, Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) and Iqbal (1875-1938) (134-41). The mixed legacy of Islamic modernism: limited, mostly intellectual influence (142-48). Neo-revivalist movements: Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jamaat-i-Islami in India (149-56). Ch. 5: Contemporary Islam: Religion and Politics. The “Islamic revival or resurgence” (158-65). Its ideological framework (165) and its extremist variant (166). Organizational complexity (166-68). Egypt (169-75). Libya (17578). Iran (179-86). Lebanon (186-91). Saudi Arabia (191-95). Pakistan (196203). Muslims of Europe (18m) and America (at least 4-6m) (203-08). African-American Islam (209-15). Difficulties of Muslims in Western

societies; the question of pluralism (21622). Ch. 6: Islam and Change: Issues of Authority and Interpretation. Whose Islam? (223-25). The history of Islam has controverted received ideas about the nature of modernization (22527). The divine-human dichotomy (22728). Four attitudes distinguished: “secularist, conservative, neotraditionalist (or neofundamentalist), and reformist (neomodernist)” (228-32). The ulama defend their authority (23235). Muslim movements for women’s rights (235-41). Islamic resurgence’s effect on non-Muslim minorities (242-43). Modern Islam is the story of the struggle of two different views of “Islamization”— as return to the past, or adaptation to the future, “caused by the existence of two parallel systems of education” (246). Ch. 7: Epilogue. Extremist “hijacking of jihad” (254-56). Suicide bombers (256-58). Sayyid Qtub (1906-1966) (25960). Wahhabi Islam (260-62). Osama bin Laden (262-63). The question of democracy (263-65). Muslim movements that have won elections (265-66). The struggle “in Islam” (266-69). Tolerance of Islam has been strained in Western societies post-9/11 (270). Concludes by suggesting that Islam is in a decadeslong process of reformation comparable to that in 16th-century Protestantism and Catholicism (271). Glossary. 100 terms (273-76). Notes. 7 pp. Select Bibliography. 19 reference works. 8 translations of the Quran. 156 secondary works. Index. 12 pp. [About the Author] University Professor of Religion and International Affairs at the Walsh School of Foreign

Service, Georgetown University. Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Editorin-chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of

the Modern Islamic World and The Oxford History of Islam. Author of many volumes on Islam.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful