Contrary to popular perception in the West, Islam is a religion firmly rooted in the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Aslan begins with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu in which the Prophet Muhammad lived. The revelations that Muhammad received in Mecca and Medina, which were recorded in the Quran, became the foundation for a radically more egalitarian community, the likes of which had never been seen before.
According to Reza Aslan, we are now living in the era of "the Islamic Reformation". No god but God is a persuasive and elegantly written account of the roots of this reformation and the future of Islamic faith.
©2006 Reza Aslan; (P)2009 Random House
Non Fiction Reader
At times I had a hard time following the books logic. He posits Iran as the harbinger of the future advocating plurality and human values etc. Then, later, refers to it as a fascist theocracy. He mentions "equality" but doesn't address the historical plight of women, apostates or slaves...who do not receive religious protection. Forget any mention of their ideas on homosexuality or adultry. Shias whipping themselves, the author maintains, is about "freedom" and there is no pain. He mentions Western imperialism but refuses to describe Muslim conquests the same way. Slaughters by Westerners are bad, but he justifies the same actions by Muslims. He likes absolves Muslims of any act by maintaining that Christians and Jews are just as "bad." I believe the author had an aim in mind to make Islam appear to be a pleasant form of worship and that anyone reading the book does not read a newspaper. He barely mentions how Muslim countries interact in the modern world (9/11 is mentioned but not deiscussed) or the reasons for their economic backwardness. (Bernard Lewis is a better read in these areas.) I found his description of Sufism hard to follow; it may have been easier in the written word.
History is never written without being written from someone's perspective. I appreciated Mr. Aslan's in depth historical treatment of his subject as well his personal story of the return to his birth country and seeing current attempts to form a stable government based on Islam. I also valued his asking questions we all ask about this major religion. "Historically is it peaceful or violent and is it possible to form stable democratic government based on it's principles?" I think I will listen to his other book also.
This book is filled with both historical information and contemporary relevance, but Aslan somehow manages to convey it all with brevity, depth, depth, and sincerity. He avoids the pitfalls of dogmatism or sounding preachy on the one hand while unapologetically remaining faithful to the spirit and intention of Islam on the other. I would recommend it highly to anyone with even a passing interest in Islam. I would especially recommend it to the opponents of Islam, or to anyone politically-minded, as it presents what I believe to be an accurate, measured account of the history of one of the world's great religions and sheds light on so many of the current conflicts in which our world is embroiled.
No, but Kurup's reading is excellent.
We are not so different after all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it gives a good background on the origins of Islam, an overview of the mythical vs historical Quran, the context in the modern era, the divisions within Islam, and the different ideologies. Gives an overview of the divisions between Sunni, Shia, Sufi, and Wahab ideologies. Reza Aslan peppers in contemporary implications for all of these throughout the book, and ends on what the modern era and contemporary issues means for Islam, and what the religion will look like in the future. Great book overall, even though I thought I knew a lot before reading it, there was so much I didn't know! So glad I read this, gives me a new glass through which to look at the situations in the Middle East, and beyond!
I would like to see Aslan write an entire book about Sufism, as that seems to be his natural area of interest. This book does mix in quite a few defenses of the faith and the prophet against typical modern criticisms, but to his credit, Aslan does not shy away from making his own harsh criticisms, especially of the Saudi-Wahabi dark alliance. As usual, Aslan's historical story telling is top notch, and I found the narration to be very high quality.
amazing book. breakdowns the fundamentals, sects ideals and the attempts and misinterpretation of the prophet and Koran definition of Islamic Democracy. Feel prouder to be a Muslim after listening to this book.
An attempt using select lines from the Koran, "unique" interpretations of other lines, and flat out lines, reza manages to polish the image of Muhammad without giving fair critique or ever deal with the moral issues plaguing the worlds most popular religion.
I had been looking for a book that would explain the development of Islam, especially it's interplay with the other Abrahamic religions of the region. This book kept my attention for the full duration for 3 reasons: it was well-written, well-researched, and beautifully and precisely articulated by the narrator. Don't worry about keeping track of all of the Arabic words, historical figures, and Middle Eastern scholars, they are beside the point and only included, at least as far as the scholars are concerned, to give academic credit where it is due. The message is clear (but I won't spoil it), and if more people were interested in learning about this history, it would go a long way to improving western relationships with the Islamic world.
Overall I enjoyed the book tremendously. I think any reader should be aware of Reza's background and how he speaks from a Shiite - then Christian - then Sufi background. No doubt others in the Muslim world would tell some of the stories very differently. That said, I think he tries to be as impartial as possible and delivers a great telling of the stories. I really enjoyed the broad overview of both the history and theology of Islam also wrapped with his own calls for reform. I highly recommend the book and hope it serves to bridge understanding within Muslim communities as well as with those outside of Islam.
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