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What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, there has been an overwhelming demand for information about Islam. Author John Esposito has found himself called upon to speak to a wide range of audiences, including members of Congress, the Bush administration, government agencies, the military and the media. Out of this experience, he has identified the ...more
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2002)
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Rachel Lightwood
Looking for a quick guide to Islam? I think this is your book.

It was an easy, quick read to fly through, and provided an in-depth look at all religious areas of Islam, making all the information relatively brief and to the point. I loved the way it was set-out with FAQs as headers so you could just pick it up at the one question you wanted the answer to and then could put it back down without having to bother with the rest of the book.

The way that the author detailed the difference between cultu
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Jonathan
I mentioned in another review that the great strength of the book was in the honesty of the author. I did not get the same feeling about this book. To my perception, Esposito wrote not about what Islam is, but about Islam as he wished it to be. He gives a politically correct, moderate Islam, one in which acts of aggressive violence are never justified, human rights and social justice are constantly supported, and any deficits in modernity, human rights, or justice are purely attributable to rece ...more
Quynh
Jul 16, 2012 Quynh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People w/ pre-conceived notions of Muslims & a dislike for ignorance.
Before reading this book, I had never given Islam (or any religion to be honest) much thought & carried w/ me the images and preconceptions of Muslims as they are portrayed by news stories. So.. to regretfully say, I was foolishly ignorant and carried with me the heaviest and uninformed ideas of severely oppressed women, a violent culture, and tyrannical governments. I didn't understand much about countries w/ a large Muslim population and high clerical influence on governments; I would see ...more
Elisabeth
As an Anthropologist I did not enjoy this book. I am used to reading books which discuss a culture/religion as a whole and not merely select issues. That being said, I do believe this would be a good book for much of the Western world to read given all of the stereotypes regarding Muslims and Arabs that we hold on to so dearly. This book was very concise in its descriptions of some of these issues. Some of them seemed biased, but for the most part the discussions within were excellent.
Garrett
Well written and informative but just scrapes the surface. If you really want to find out about Islam you need to study everything intently. Start here but look deeper and further. It is important to get multiple perspectives on religion and determine what's fact or fiction. Very good book. Anybody could enjoy it and learn important things from it.
Paul Moody
Great book to get a basic understanding of Islam. Violent extremist make up an incredibly small percentage of Muslims, yet that is what many people in the west think of when they think of Islam. Islam is misunderstood by many, and a few violent idiots do not define or stand for what Islam is about.

...with that said. Reading this book did enforce what 14 years of Catholic education taught me, which is religion is fucking ridiculous, and more of a roadblock towards God then a Pathway.
Mary Anne
I originally read/listened to Esposito's Great World Religions: Islam and found it to be really awesome. One of my colleagues had this book around and I decided to check it out. This book is set up such that you can go directly to the section you're interested in instead of reading it cover to cover, but I enjoyed reading it cover to cover. The book has these sections: general information; faith and practice; Islam and other religions; customs and culture; violence and terrorism; society, politi ...more
Muna Zaen
The questions are what the author regards as most frequently asked, and each questions are written in independent manner that readers can start reading the book by choosing any chapter from anywhere in the book. The answers are written in a non-judgmental way, means it is what it is, and not showing any personal preference whatsoever. The book has an extensive references, the words are simple and easy to digest. It is NOT a complete guidance towards Islam, but merely and sufficiently a starting ...more
Jeremy
Overcontextualized

I found this to be an informative introduction to the topic. The question-and-answer format resulted in a flowing organization that worked well for many short readings and will work well for quick consultation in the future. My impression, however, was that Islam is really just about the same as Judaism and Christianity (which have some major differences themselves). The distinctiveness or otherness of the religion is downplayed in favor of similarities—especially similarities
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Wendy
This is basically a comprehensive defense of Islam. It offers information on the minutest details about Islamic history and customs, which is very much appreciated by this reader, but Esposito never really answers the question of why so few of the "peace-loving," "mainstream" Muslims that he describes in his book actually speak out against the "extremists" who are apparently hijacking their religion. I will give it three stars for the very complete background information, but no more since it st ...more
Shannon
Very concise and informative. Esposito is not necessarily presenting an outline of the religion of Islam, but rather addressing common or controversial questions about the faith that have risen, especially after 9/11. He gives insight to cultural context on topics such as terrorism and women's rights. Very scholarly overview of a 1400-year-old religion.
Jagati Bagchi
The book provides an insight into the complexities in Islam in a very non - judgemental way. What is important that we get to view our predispositions on some of the most talked about issues from a different aspect.Also it helped me in my work as gender consultant to address some of the tricky questions on marriage divorce etc with more convictions.
Matthew
Intelligent and objective review of the Islamic faith. Esposito has always been a moderate and reasoned voice in the often hysterical debate about what Islam is and is not. Unlike his other books, this book is written in a question and answer format which allows the reader to search for a particular topic of interest or read cover to cover.
John
Feb 15, 2008 John added it
Organized in Q&A format with Esposito's answers to commonly asked questions. Some questions are about Islam but the answers Esposito gives are about what different things Muslims do, say, believe and so on. In these cases, not much critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of differing stances is given.
E2c
So far, this is good (and practical), but could be more thorough, as some answers are complex and there needs to be a little more fact + discussion in those sections.

On the other hand, I don't envy anyone who is trying to summarize a world religion's beliefs and practices in such a brief book!
Michael Bond
Somewhat informative, but more apologist than I expected, in the sense that the author defends Islam in most ways but does not adequately address the perceived (modern) faults. I probably would have preferred one of the other introductory books on the subject.
Ron
Just re read this book. The author was one of my professors in college. He was an excellent teacher. Book may be a bit basic for some, but it is very informative. Its fairly objective in its perspective.
Noor Saadeh
Super book to read if you want the basic facts about Islam and Muslims. Mr. Esposito still maintains he is a staunch Catholic so no bias there.
Kaitlin
An important read for the people of the West. Very clear and insightful, it helped sweep away my unconscious prejudices.
Judy
Written in Q&A format, this is a very informative read for a solid and what seems to be very fair introduction to Islam.
Thomas Bundy
Very biased. Received a $20,000,000 endowment from the Saudi Government to write a favorable explanation of Islam.
Rody
"Answers to frequently asked questions from one of America's leading experts." What to Muslims Believe. FAQ's Easy read
Amanda Miller
Very informative. I truly enjoyed this book. I recommend it for anyone who wants to know the basics of Islam.
Snow hite
i love my religion and i proud my self that i am a muslim.....
By Crom!
Sep 30, 2008 By Crom! rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students, fox news junkies
Good primer on Islam.
Brian
Brian marked it as to-read
Sep 01, 2015
Mike C
Mike C added it
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He is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He is also the director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal center for Muslim-Christian understanding at Georgetown University.

Esposito was raised a Roman Catholic in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City, and spent a decade in a Catholic monastery. After taking his first degree he worked as a manage
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More about John L. Esposito...
Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think Islam: The Straight Path Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam The Oxford History of Islam The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?

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