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Islam: The Straight Path

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  661 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In Islam, Esposito provides a succinct, up-to-date survey of the Islamic experience, an introduction to the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from its origins to its contemporary resurgence. He traces the emergence and development of this dynamic faith and its impact on world history and politics. He discusses the formation of Islamic belief and practice (law, theology, ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 15th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published October 6th 1988)
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Will Waller
This book is an excellent primer on Islam on a multitude of dimensions: historical, religious, modern, cultural, anthropological, scientific. I found this book to be the best guide to Islam, and I especially enjoyed its final chapter which dealt with modern history (up to mid-2009). It assimilates the many different streams of Islam into a readable work but one that is certainly well-researched and well written. This book was read for a course on Islam and I found it nearly as helpful as the cla ...more
Dillon Tatum
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
People always ask me what a great intro to Islam book is, and this is it. Esposito does a fantastic job, and it is the best I have seen of its kind (in its 3rd edition even, I think). It does have some flaws, but what book doesn't.
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you want to begin researching and understanding Islam this is a great book to start with. It's easy to understand and gives you the history of Islam as a religion, ideology, culture, and political system. I would encourage everyone to read this so they can understand what Islam is and what it isn't. Its important to understand the richness and beauty that surrounds the tradition of Islam and not just modern perception of radical movements.
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This does not seem like a very good introduction to Islam. I am not sure of the importance of covering obscure sects from centuries ago and all of that. The book is very dry, not much fun to read, and seems like an awful choice for a college survey course as it seems quite apologetic and does a very poor job of dealing with the current social issues and such within Islam. Nor does it go over any of the issues involving Islam and the outside world. Overall, I can't really recommend this.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Had to read this for my history of the Middle East and Islam course, very dry and not as well written as I would have hoped. Leaves out a lot of important facts and includes many errors that are clearly cultural things and not Islam at all.
Andrew Doohan
Given the enormous amounts of ignorance or misinformation that surrounds the subject of Islam in contemporary rhetoric and communal debate, this book, already a few years old in its fourth edition, was a timely read for me. The author, a world-renowned scholar in the field, provides an accessible and balanced introduction to Islam.

This book is no apology for the religion of Islam, nor is it an attack on that religion. It is, thankfully, a text that is well-researched, broad in scope, and not afr
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book merits four and a half stars, but I rounded down to four. The book is excellent and filled with information and opposing theological strains within Islam. However, I felt that sometimes Esposito tried to defend Islam from Western critique (which I have no problem with in of itself) but would later write about certain tenets in Islam that kind of disproved the points he was trying to make. For instance, the question of "why did the Arabian Muslims seek to expand" never felt adequately a ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Islam: The Straight Path is a really poignant and engaging introduction to the vast topics surrounding Islam. John L. Esponsito presents the complex history of 13 odd centuries of faith, innovation, expansion, trade, commerce, and sadly in more recent times, the spread of fanaticism.
This is a book I think everyone in the west should read so as to gain an insight into the culture and faith of Muslims, and how to not allow media bias to prejudice our interactions with our Islamic brothers and sis
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the book I recommend to people who want to better understand Islam as both a religion and a global political phenomenon. In clear, simple, readable text, Esposito explains for the history and ideology of Islam and its offshoots. This is a great resource for anyone confused by the Sunni/Shi'ia divide, or who wants to understand distinctions between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hamas, and various Salafist organizations.
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it
I mostly skimmed through and read the parts that interested me. But it provided a good overview of the development of Islam, the divisions within Islam and beliefs/practices. I especially found the info on how early Islam improved the rights of women to be interesting. However, I was hoping there would be more on Indonesia here (the country with the largest Muslim population), but I guess you can't cover everything in a college survey textbook.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit I have come across books which are perhaps better, "Jihad: from Quran to bin laden" by Richard Bonney would be a better choice. Also currently a production made by MBC on a series called "UMAR" available on Youtube in English subtitle is probably something worth watching, I found it amazing.
Daughters Of Abraham
This is a good basic text on Islam, from history to orthodoxy to the variety of sects in the religion of Islam. The Protestants in the group thought that Esposito’s view of “Christianity” was a view of pre-Vatican II Catholicism. Recommended, although some found No god, but God a better choice. (Review by Metro West)
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion, txtbook
Very dry.
It's not really relevant to understanding Islam unless you're studying where the extremist groups first originated or you just want to know about the historical movements of the religion.
I though John Esposito could do much better than that.
Alex Rhea
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
A very thorough introduction to the history of Islam and some important events in the modern history of certain major Muslim countries. However, Esposito tries to be a bit overly apologetic when talking about some of the more violent aspects of Islamic history. This is an somewhat understandable attitude considering the current political climate, but also feels somewhat dishonest.
Aug 09, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: not me
Shelves: thegaveupshelf
I gave up after the first couple of chapters. What I read was definitely good, but I just lost interest. Too many schisms in the religion and just not enough dedication on my part. Plus, the library wanted it back.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
This isn't a bad introduction to Islam. If you think this is a monolithic faith Esposito will astonish you on that account. My major complaint is that this is mostly textbook dry and strikes me as slightly apologetic. I particularly enjoyed his acocunt of Black Islam in the US.
Craig Bolton
Islam: The Straight Path by John L. Esposito (1998)
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
A decent intro book.
Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a quick primer on Islam
Shelves: non-fiction
A clear, well-written, comprehensive treatment of Islam and its history. Perfect for beginners, though a bit simplistic otherwise.
Tahrim Ahmed
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Henri Liriani
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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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