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
A great history of Islam told by one who knows all the man-made changes of the essential tenets of this religion. Again, what began as pure and tolerant monotheism evolved into the fractions, factions, and fanatics in today's world. Just like every other "religion" on the planet.
It should be required "reading" for every thinking person who cares about other people in today's world to separate fact from fiction about a little understood and much maligned organized religion.
I own the book as well, and it helped to refer to it during my listen. Unless one is fluent in Arabic, the names, places, and phrases used through out the book confuse the western ear. Being able to read them, flip through the pages to sort out some confusion as to who did what to whom, and/or why helped a lot.
No god but God was an addictive listen - I couldn't wait to get back to it. I originally chose to listen to it after hearing a recording of Aslan speaking at Stanford, but was intrigued enough to learn more.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the text. I only knew a little bit about Islam before this book, which is partially why I chose it. This book provides a great historical overview to the religion as well as the cultures that have developed around the faith. I also appreciated the historical context because it gave me a much better picture of what is going on right now (both in the Middle East and around the world). The basic tenets of belief are also explained, as well as some cultural (though not necessarily religious) habits that tend to be popular in the Muslim world. I also was very interested in Aslan's belief that we are currently experiencing the Islamic Reformation (similar to the Christian Reformation), and was able to see the parallels. I feel like this book has given me a great start towards understanding the Muslim faith.
I only have two complaints about the audiobook. The first is the chapter on Sufism was difficult to follow as an audiobook (maybe it would be better in text). I realize that the book wouldn't have been a complete picture Islam without mentioning Sufism, but trying to cram what appears to be an incredibly complex set of beliefs into two chapters made it hard to keep up with.
My other complaint is how Aslan continuously tried to frame Islam as similar to Christianity and Judaism. I appreciated the historical similarities, but in some instances it just seemed a bit overdone. Perhaps he was using this tactic to appease to people who are against Islam as a religion, and I don't feel like I am in that camp. I understand that people, regardless of their religions, have done terrible things in the name of their religion - but that doesn't necessarily make their religion evil.
This book is an important investment of your time. In approximately 12 hours, you can gain a basic understanding of the faith of 22% of the world. Its pretty inexcusable to know next to nothing about such a predominant religion.
This is one of the best-written books on Islam I have ever read. The author, the Iranian-American Muslim who grew up in a small town in America South, takes an objective view on the world's most controversial religion today. The greatest virtue of this book is that it's easy to read while not skipping important details in the early development of the faith. If you still feel this book is too much for you, try "Destiny Disrupted" (2009) by Tamim Ansary, which is much easier and full of interesting episodes.
Loads of knowledge, but a piece of good literature as well. Will make you fascinated and may change the view on islam. For all those who want to know more and understand more. Of the past and present.
I do recommend !
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 was assigned to read this book for a comparative religion book. I didn't end up having the time to listen to the whole audiobook. I got about a third of the way through and realized there was far too many chapters left to listen too. The teacher assigned three chapters a night, which for this book = hours of listening or reading. I might have enjoyed it more had I taken the opportunity to listen to it for fun. Though it seems like this book is for a scholar, not the curious student. It goes deep into all of the historical intricacies loosing my attention many times. There was also a rant that seems endless about how Muslims aren't racist, especially against Jews, seems a little desperate to convey the point. Not a terrible book but I would not recommend it unless studying Islam is your passion.
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.
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.
I enjoyed listening to the history if Islam by Reza Aslan. It was informative and answered many questions I had about this world religion.
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