The Islam Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

DK. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781465491480. $25. REF
Similar to other titles in the “Big Ideas Simply Explained” series, this book, by seven experts and three consultants, covers its topic, Islam, from origins to the present. More comprehensive than Ahmad Rashid Salim’s Islam Explained or Nile Green’s Global Islam, this volume narrates Muhammad’s life; outlines the Quran, the sunna, and the Five Pillars; and traces the development of the faith: concepts of heaven and hell; hadith, halal, and Sharia law; Shia and Sufism; the golden age of Islamic arts and sciences; centuries of “reform and revival”; and the global state of “Islam today,” from the 1970s on. Women’s rights, alcohol, gambling, banking and the economy, the rise of extremism, and positive and negative uses of social media are concisely covered. Cultural heritage, such as storytelling and poetry, is honored, and calligraphy, design, and other artistic contributions are represented in colorful, informatively captioned illustrations. Text boxes with context and quotations, sidebars, time lines, architectural diagrams (e.g., the Kaaba), and other lively graphics help readers note key points and follow the narrative. There are sections devoted to Islam in the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Iran. A useful directory of notables, glossary, and index round out the book.
VERDICT Full of clearly conveyed, essential information, this title should be of interest to everyone.
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