HarperOne has put these 10 books on sale for $2.99 to help readers gain a greater understanding of Islam and the crisis of ISIS. The sale is ‘for a limited time’ (my guess is at least a week), but the announcement did not specify. I have only read God’s Battalion, which is worth reading as a counter to common understanding of the Crudades. I have also read other books by Stephen Prothero, Karen Armstrong and Mirsolov Volf. Theirs are important voices, but their three books here have controversy. The rest of these books I don’t know anything about, but I am putting them all up.
404 pages, 90 of 147 reviews are 4 or 5-star
In God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and religion scholar Stephen Prothero argues that persistent attempts to portray all religions as different paths to the same God overlook the distinct problem that each tradition seeks to solve. Delving into the different problems and solutions that Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Confucianism, Yoruba Religion, Daoism and Atheism strive to combat, God is Not One is an indispensable guide to the questions human beings have asked for millennia—and to the disparate paths we are taking to answer them today.
256 pages, 61 of 86 reviews are 4 or 5-star
The Man Who Inspired the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion
Muhammad presents a fascinating portrait of the founder of a religion that continues to change the course of world history. Muhammad’s story is more relevant than ever because it offers crucial insight into the true origins of an increasingly radicalized Islam. Countering those who dismiss Islam as fanatical and violent, Armstrong offers a clear, accessible, and balanced portrait of the central figure of one of the world’s great religions.
339 pages, 13 of 23 reviews are 5-star
From Miroslav Volf, one of the world’s foremost Christian theologians—and co-teacher, along with Tony Blair, of a groundbreaking Yale University course on faith and globalization—comes Allah, a timely and provocative argument for a new pluralism between Muslims and Christians. In a penetrating exploration of every side of the issue, from New York Times headlines on terrorism to passages in the Koran and excerpts from the Gospels, Volf makes an unprecedented argument for effecting a unified understanding between Islam and Christianity. In the tradition of Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Islam in the Modern World, Volf’s Allah is essential reading for students of the evolving political science of the twenty-first century.
114 pages, 6 of 11 reviews are 4 or 5-star
Bookwi.se Note: This is the chapter on Islam from Huston Smith’s larger The Religions of Man.
Huston Smith is internationally known and revered as the premier teacher of world religions. He is the focus of a five-part PBS television series with Bill Moyers and has taught at Washington University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, and the University of California at Berkeley. The recipient of twelve honorary degrees, Smith’s fifteen books include his bestselling The World’s Religions, Why Religion Matters, and his autobiography, Tales of Wonder.
292 pages, 114 of 137 reviews are 4 or 5-star
In God’s Battalions, distinguished scholar Rodney Stark puts forth a controversial argument that the Crusades were a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression. Stark, the author of The Rise of Christianity, reviews the history of the seven major crusades from 1095-1291 in this fascinating work of religious revisionist history.
352 pages, of reviews are 4 or 5-star
As the specter of religious extremism has become a fact of life today, the temptation is great to allow the evil actions and perspectives of a minority to represent an entire tradition. In the case of Islam, there has been much recent confusion in the Western world centered on distorted portrayals of its core values. Born of ignorance, such confusion feeds the very problem at hand.
In The Heart of Islam one of the great intellectual figures in Islamic history offers a timely presentation of the core spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, social justice, and respect for the other. Seizing this unique moment in history to reflect on the essence of his tradition, Seyyed Hossein Nasr seeks to “open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding.” Exploring Islamic values in scripture, traditional sources, and history, he also shows their clear counterparts in the Jewish and Christian traditions, revealing the common ground of the Abrahamic faiths.
Nasr challenges members of the world’s civilizations to stop demonizing others while identifying themselves with pure goodness and to turn instead to a deeper understanding of those shared values that can solve the acute problems facing humanity today. “Muslims must ask themselves what went wrong within their own societies,” he writes, “but the West must also pose the same question about itself . . . whether we are Muslims, Jews, Christians, or even secularists, whether we live in the Islamic world or in the West, we are in need of meaning in our lives, of ethical norms to guide our actions, of a vision that would allow us to live at peace with each other and with the rest of God’s creation.” Such help, he believes, lies at the heart of every religion and can lead the followers of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as well as other religious and spiritual traditions to a new future of mutual respect and common global purpose.
The Heart of Islam is a landmark presentation of enduring value that offers hope to humanity, and a compelling portrait of the beauty and appeal of the faith of 1.2 billion people.
340 pages, 5 of 10 reviews are 4 or 5-star
An American imam offers answers for today’s toughest questions about Islam, and a vision for a reconciliation between Islam and the West.
One of the pressing questions of our time is what went wrong in the relationship between Muslims and the West. Continuing global violence in the name of Islam reflects the deepest fears by certain Muslim factions of Western political, cultural, and economic encroachment. The solution to the current antagonism requires finding common ground upon which to build mutual respect and understanding. Who better to offer such an analysis than an American imam, someone with a foot in each world and the tools to examine the common roots of both Western and Muslim cultures; someone to explain to the non-Islamic West not just what went wrong with Islam, but what’s right with Islam.
Focused on finding solutions, not on determining fault, this is ultimately a hopeful, inspiring book. What’s Right with Islam systematically lays out the reasons for the current dissonance between these cultures and offers a foundation and plan for improved relations. Wide-ranging in scope, What’s Right with Islam elaborates in satisfying detail a vision for a Muslim world that can eventually embrace its own distinctive forms of democracy and capitalism, aspiring to a new Cordoba – a time when Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all other faith traditions will live together in peace and prosperity.
355 pages, 9 of 11 reviews are 5-star
In Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters, leading Islamic scholar Omid Safi presents a portrait of Muhammad that reveals his centrality in the devotions of modern Muslims around the world. This religious biography offers new insights into Islam, covering such hot button issues such as the spread of Islam, holy wars, the role of women, the significance of Jerusalem, tensions with Jews and Christians, wahabbi Islam, and the role of cyberspace in the evolution of the religion.
336 pages, 20 of 25 reviews are 4 or 5-star
Despite President George W. Bush’s assurances that Islam is a peaceful religion and that all good Muslims hunger for democracy, confusion persists and far too many Westerners remain convinced that Muslims and terrorists are synonymous. In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent bombings in London, an unprecedented amount of attention has been directed toward Islam and the Muslim world. Yet, even with this increased scrutiny, most of the public discourse regarding Islam revolves around the actions of extremist factions such as the Wahhabis and al-Qa’ida. But what of the Islam we don’t hear about?
As the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in the world, Islam is deemed by more than a billion Muslims to be a source of serenity and spiritual peace, and a touchstone for moral and ethical guidance. While extremists have an impact upon the religion that is wildly disproportionate to their numbers, moderates constitute the majority of Muslims worldwide. It is this rift between the quiet voice of the moderates and the deafening statements of the extremists that threatens the future of the faith.
In The Great Theft, Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of the world’s preeminent Islamic scholars, argues that Islam is currently passing through a transformative period no less dramatic than the movements that swept through Europe during the Reformation. At this critical juncture there are two completely opposed worldviews within Islam competing to define this great world religion. The stakes have never been higher, and the future of the Muslim world hangs in the balance.
Drawing on the rich tradition of Islamic history and law, The Great Theft is an impassioned defense of Islam against the encroaching power of the extremists. As an accomplished Islamic jurist, Abou El Fadl roots his arguments in long-standing historical legal debates and delineates point by point the beliefs and practices of moderate Muslims, distinguishing these tenets from the corrupting influences of the extremists. From the role of women in Islam to the nature of jihad, from democracy and human rights to terrorism and warfare, Abou El Fadl builds a vital vision for a moderate Islam. At long last, the great majority of Muslims who oppose extremism have a desperately needed voice to help reclaim Islam’s great moral tradition.
304 pages, 38 of 48 reviews are 4 or 5-star
In this thoroughly revised and updated edition, leading religion and Middle East expert Charles Kimball shows how all religious traditions are susceptible to these basic corruptions and why only authentic faith can prevent such evil.
The Five Warning Signs of Corruption in Religion
1. Absolute Truth Claims
2. Blind Obedience
3. Establishing the “Ideal” Time
4. The End Justifies Any Means
5. Declaring Holy War