Routledge – 2009 – 352 pages
Series: World Religions
What exactly is ‘Islam’ and what does it mean to be a ‘Muslim’ in the world today? Since the events of 9/11 and 7/7, Islam has become one of the most controversial and misunderstood religions in the world. Introducing Islam encourages students to put aside their preconceptions and explore this fascinating religion.
William Shepard, an experienced teacher in the field, traces the history of Islam, from its early environment and origins in the life and career of Mohammed, through its classical expressions to its interactions with the West in the modern world. Shepard devotes a chapter each to important topics such as The Qur’an, Islamic law, Islamic theology, and the Sufi movement. In addition to this, four chapters are devoted to studies of Islam in individual countries: Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, and Shepard explores Islamic civilization through discussion of Islamic art and culture, and community rituals.
Introducing Islam is the ideal introduction for students wishing to gain a sympathetic understanding of Islam. Illustrated throughout, the book also includes text boxes, summary charts, a glossary of key Arabic terms, and a list of further reading to aid students’ understanding and revision. The accompanying website for this book can be found at www.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415455183.
'This is a model textbook, which manages to be both comprehensive and concise at the same time. Shepard conveys not merely the fundamental formal teachings of Islam, but also the kaleidoscope of its lived practice, addressing the diverse responses that Muslims across the world have had to the Prophet's initial call some fourteen hundred years ago.' –Paul M. Cobb, University of Pennsylvania, USA
'Shepard writes cogently, thoughtfully, and sensibly about the Islamic civilization. Introducing Islam is a timely textbook and an informative reference for students and the public.' – Professor Ahmed E. Souaiaia, author of Contesting Justice.
'The author deserves special appreciation for bringing to the forefront such an informative and comprehensive work on Islamic history and civilization. A remarkable and valuable contribution, not to mention an excellent source on Islam’s history, culture, and modern trends, this book will prove useful to students and scholars alike.' – Tauseef Ahmad Parray, PhD Research Scholar/Doctoral Candidate, Aligarh Muslim University, India
'Introducing Islam would make an ideal core text for an undergraduate course on Islam, especially given the thorough course syllabus, PowerPoint lecture slides, and up-to-date material available on the companion website.' – Amir Dastmalchian, The Islamic College, UK
1. Introduction: Approaching the Subject Part 1: History of the Community 2. On the Eve of Islam: The Hellenistic-Iranian World 3. Arabia, Muhammad and History of Islam to about 700 4. Expansion and Flowering: History of Islam from about 700 to 1700 CE Part 2: Aspects of Islam 5. God Speaks: The Qur'an 6. The Prophet Muhammad: "The Best of all Creation" 7. Key Practices: Pillars, Rituals and Celebrations 8. Divisions in the Community: Sects, Political Theory 9. Those Who Know: Scholars and Learning 10. To Know God's Will: Islamic Law 11. To Reason about God: Theology and Philosophy 12. The Path to God: Sufism and Wisdom 13. Three Major Thinkers: A Philosopher, a Scholar-Mystic, and a Reformer 14. Culture and Counter-Culture: Literature and Other Arts Part 3: Modern Developments 15. Modern Challenges: Western Imperialism and Muslim Response 16. Turkey: Secularist Reform 17. Egypt: Between Secularism and Islamism 18. Iran: From Secularism to Islamic Revolution 19. Indonesia: Islamic Society or Islamic State? 20. Globalisation: Challenge and Opportunity
William Shepard is Associate Professor, Retired, of Religious Studies at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. His previous publications include Sayyid Qutb and Islamic Activism (1996) and numerous articles and translations.