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Great World Religions: Islam | [The Great Courses, John L. Esposito]

Great World Religions: Islam

How familiar are you with the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion? In these 12 lectures, Professor Esposito guides you through the facts and myths surrounding Islam and its more than 1.2 billion adherents. Many in the West know little about the faith and are familiar only with the actions of a minority of radical extremists, but this lecture series will help you better understand Islam's role as both a religion and a way of life, and its deep impact on world affairs both historically and today.
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Publisher's Summary

How familiar are you with the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion? In these 12 lectures, Professor Esposito guides you through the facts and myths surrounding Islam and its more than 1.2 billion adherents. Many in the West know little about the faith and are familiar only with the actions of a minority of radical extremists, but this lecture series will help you better understand Islam's role as both a religion and a way of life, and its deep impact on world affairs both historically and today.

What does the future hold for Islam and the West in the new century? How will it change under the influence of conservatives, reformers, and extremists? Moving from Muhammad to the present, from the 7th to the 21st centuries, you'll explore Muslim beliefs, practices, and history in the context of its significance and impact on Muslim life and society through the ages, as well as world events today. Topics you'll cover include the life and legacy of the prophet Muhammad; the nature and true meaning of jihad; the Muslim beliefs about other faiths such as Judaism and Christianity; Islamic contributions to mathematics, science, and art; the intricate relationship between Islam, modernization, capitalism, and democracy; and much more.

Professor Esposito takes a closer look at the historical development of two great Islamic institutions: Islamic law and Islamic mysticism. And he examines the worldwide "struggle for the soul of Islam" occurring today between conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    Adam United States 07-14-14
    Adam United States 07-14-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Beginning to Understand"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Great World Religions: Islam to be better than the print version?

    Not applicable.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No characters. It's a lecture series.


    Have you listened to any of Professor John L. Esposito’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't but he was engaging.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Not possible.


    Any additional comments?

    I have a Christian background and didn't understand this third member of the Abrahamic tradition. There is a lot of information and you will begin to understand not only the divergence from Judaism and Christianity but the split between Sunni and Shia. I recommend it with caution because you will know that you understand more but also that a mountain of information is still out there.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 12-03-13
    Saud 12-03-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As a Muslim, this is fairly accurate"

    As a Muslim, I wanted to understand how Islam is being presented to non-Muslims in an academic way. This is fairly accurate on the fundamentals, but there were several points I would have wanted to correct the professor at, especially in the second half of the course.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    URI San Francisco, USA 02-03-15
    URI San Francisco, USA 02-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A VERY brief introduction to the subject"

    A fan of the Great Courses, I usually enjoy the wealth of information I can get from a single title. This title, however, was way too short. There was only one chapter (30 min) for example, about Muhammad and I cannot tell anything about the Koran from this lecture- it's structure, message, the famous comexities and paradoxes and the like.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juan 02-10-15
    Juan 02-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good Material... But..."

    The class is interesting, and it touches various topics of interest such as the role of women within Islam, or the future of the Islam. BUT, I was hoping for a deeper explanation of the doctrine itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garrett Washington, DC, United States 07-01-15
    Garrett Washington, DC, United States 07-01-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A series of essays read at high speed"
    What would have made Great World Religions: Islam better?

    This is not a set of lectures of the sort that most university instructors deliver. The professor has written a series of highly complicated essays and read them verbating--compound complex sentences, long adverbial and prepositional phrases included. The result is eventrually numbing despite the excellent content of the course


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There are no characters as such but I am very fond of Averroes and Avicenna.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor John L. Esposito?

    Prof. Esposito having prepared actual lectures and speaking at a normal pace.


    What character would you cut from Great World Religions: Islam?

    Please.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a very disappointing Great Course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard C. San Bruno, CA USA 06-18-15
    Richard C. San Bruno, CA USA 06-18-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Introduction with depth and without bias"

    I was cautious at first, given that a shallow, slanted view trends to sell better than a more nuanced look; especially given the current political climate.

    I was quickly, pleasantly surprised by the quality of these lectures. Mr. Esposito provides a wonderful introduction to Islam, customs, and mainstream thought while giving historical and comparative analysis. Mr. Esposito also addresses extremism, it's relation/separation to the mainstream and gives context for verses (taken out of context) commonly used to justify extremism. Mr. Esposito them goes even further to explain how extremists are actually in violation of Islam.

    Throughout, Mr. Esposito gives references and points to exact instances to support the material. Thus, he avoids the all too common trap of, "trust me, I have a title. "

    I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Islam, whether they were new to the topic or well versed. Mr. Esposito uses an academic approach, so if you are expecting proscletizing you will be disappointed. But, if you have a genuine curiosity, you will not be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 06-17-15
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 06-17-15
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    "Dispel the myths and prejudices of this religion."

    Very interesting regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on. Not all Muslims are terrorists.Learn the origins of this religion and listen with an open mind you will discover many wonderful things about the world and your self. I enjoyed this course on a subject I knew little about. I think Professor Esposito dispels some of the myths about Islam. Must Muslims are not blood thirsty villains. there is evil in all societies.

    Listen with an open mind

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    savine 04-13-15
    savine 04-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Thorough and fascinating"

    This author was fascinating to listen to, and obviously knows his subject well. Very passionate lectures, well organized, addressing a wide range of issues.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire 03-31-15
    Claire 03-31-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Good Info, Less than I Wanted, AWFUL LECTURER"

    The information was good and respectful, and was presented well. I did learn stuff about Islam.

    I'd been hoping for a LOT more detail, but that's largely my own fault for failing to notice that it was only a 6h course, as opposed to the 21h course I'd last purchased. Lesson learned!

    But he was SO HARD to listen to! So many long random pauses! I listened to most of the course on 1.5x, and all was much improved, but there was still the occasional odd too-long pause. Even at 2x his speech patterns were distracting!

    If I were to do this again, I'd look for the same lecturer's book on Audible, which looks to contain much of the same content, but is narrated by someone else.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas S. Ashton 04-29-15
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    "Muslim Apologists Unite!"
    What did you like best about Great World Religions: Islam? What did you like least?

    The lecturer actually "taught" that western views of Islamic female coverings are more oppressive than the coverings themselves. What? Also, Aisha is only described as the Mother of Believers and narrator of hadithas--not as he 6 or 7 year old bride with whom he consummated the marraige at 9 years old. Not even mentioned. Dhimmis and dhimmitude are described as progressive for it's time, and not like a tax to believe and worship as you please. There are many, many unsavory bits left out or just pushed aside.


    What could The Great Courses and John L. Esposito have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    This appeared less of a lecture and more of the Professor just poorly reading out of a book he wrote with many ackward pauses.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor John L. Esposito?

    Another professor I suppose.


    Did Great World Religions: Islam inspire you to do anything?

    Almost inspired me to stop listening in the first lecture. Anytime someone tries to justify action with a "they do it too" arguement (in this case, Crusades and abortion center bombing), I know their arguement is weak.


    Any additional comments?

    We get it. Islam good. There is no doubt there is an agenda here. If you are looking for some good history, you'll find it. If you are looking for a white wash of bad rap of Islam as of late and to feel like a bigot if you question otherwise, you'll find that too. Too hard to take one with the other. I need a good series that puts out there the good with the bad--the whole story. I expected such from a university professor.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Matt
    Driffield, United Kingdom
    8/20/13
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    "Highly compressed scholarship"

    This is the first "Great Courses" audiobook I've listened to and I have to say that I'm very impressed. I know quite a lot about Islam and religion in general and I was dubious about how much I would really learn from such a short course. However, I have been very pleasantly surprised! Prof. Esposito packs an enormous amount into each 30min lecture but does so with such enthusiasm and precision that you never feel that you're drowning.

    The great strength of this course is its holistic approach. I knew a lot of the content before but I had never heard it presented with such an emphasis on context and the historical development of Islam. In Prof. Esposito's hands, familiar facts and concepts develop new significance as he shows how the pieces fit together to create the whole; I can think of no higher praise for a teacher.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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