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Islam: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading examines why Islam has such major divisions between movements such as the Shi'ites, the Sunnis, and the Wahhabis, and the central importance of the Shar'ia (Islamic law) in Islamic life. Why is the greatest ‘Jihad’ (holy war) now against the enemies of Islam, rather than the struggle against evil? Can women find fulfilment in Islamic societies? How must Islam adapt as it confronts the modern world? Islam features widely in the news, often in its most militant versions, but few people in the non-Muslim world really understand the nature of Islam. 

Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction

Why does Islamic history matter? This short reading answers this question by introducing the story of Islamic history, the controversies surrounding its study, and the significance that it holds for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The rise and spread of Islam and the evolution into an international religion with over a billion adherents is charted. The peoples — Arabs, Persians, and Turks — who shaped Islamic history and three representative and diverse institutions — the mosque, jihad, and the caliphate — are presented.

The Koran: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading explores the significance of the Koran both in the modern world and in traditional Muslim culture, by looking at the Koran as codex, as scripture, as liturgy, and as the embodiment of truth, and examines its means of formation and dissemination. How are certain key verses to be interpreted? What is it about the Koran that gives it the immense authority in the Muslim world it commands? How does it manage to stay relevant today?

Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading provides an introduction to the major aspects of Muhammad's life and its importance, giving both the Muslim and Western historical perspectives. As the founder of Islam, Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in history. Learning about his life and understanding its importance, however, has always proven difficult. Our knowledge of Muhammad comes from the biography written by his followers, but Western historians have questioned the reliability of this story in their quest to uncover the ‘historical Muhammad’.

Oxford Very Short Introductions

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