Right from the offset, you can tell this book is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. For starters, the writing style is casual for a historical nonRight from the offset, you can tell this book is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. For starters, the writing style is casual for a historical non-fiction book. It makes the book more engaging but I'm sure it'll also result in purists frothing at the mouth. Secondly, the narrative is colored by the author's thoughts and opinions at multiple points. Third, there's a distinct Shia bias throughout the text. Lastly, post-Karbala, the book is rather poorly developed.
And you know what? It's still a good read! For all it's faults, it's pretty informative and provides a great serial account of the events that led to the division between the two sects. Recommended if this is not the only book you plan to read on the Shia-Sunni conflict....more
'No God but God' deals with Islam's roots, the tumultuous period after the Prophet's death, the movements that sprung up as Islam spFascinating read.
'No God but God' deals with Islam's roots, the tumultuous period after the Prophet's death, the movements that sprung up as Islam spread across continents, the various sects of Islam and the conflicts between them, schools of thought like Traditionalism and Rationalism, the rise of fundamentalism and so forth.
It compresses 1500 years of history into 300 pages and yet, manages to be highly readable and engaging. Historical context is perhaps the most important factor in understanding any religion and in particular, Islam. That is seemingly lost on most Muslims these days so Aslan getting that message across without rubbing any side the wrong way is an achievement.
It's a non-fiction account if that wasn't already obvious and the material is reliably cited. Most books on Islam have a tendency to either become an apology or paint an apocalyptic scenario where it's the believers versus the heretics so the balanced and well sourced approach to the religion's history is well appreciated.
That being said, there were some contentious points. Aslan comes down particularly hard on the Caliphs (Uthman in particular). The Ulama get a lot of stick as well but many, including me, would argue that's well warranted.
Nevertheless, I'll give it five stars. This book is an accessible starting point for non-Muslims and Muslims alike. After reading a few books on Islam and its history, I can't believe how laughably naive my views were about my own religion so I appreciate anything that fosters interfaith and intrafaith understanding and dialogue while remaining neutral.
A must read for anyone interested in understanding Islam rather than painting it with broad brushstrokes....more