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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Disappointing

This course is actually a series of essays read aloud by the professor, with no attempt to make them into lectures. As a result, the monotonous pacing and complex sentence structure make it almost impossible to listen attentively. This is the first Great Course I've e we found to be so poorly done.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Muslim review of the course

If you could sum up Great World Religions: Islam in three words, what would they be?

Accurate, fair, best

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses and John L. Esposito ? Why or why not?

Yes because its the best out there.

Any additional comments?

I found the first 2 videos to be fair and truthful. John Esposito does an excellent job of explaining the religion, the diversity of the religion and the 5 pillars. He brings in the concept of Jihad masterfully at the end of the second video. <br/><br/>The only complaints which were really small mistakes were around the 38 second mark in the first video in which he stated that some Muslim nations ban women from driving along with other issues. The reality is only Saudi Arabia bans women from driving which Professor Esposito is cited stating on politifact. At the 11:31 mark he states that Zakat is paid in Ramadan. Zakat is actually paid 1 year from when one meets the nisab (minimum requirement of savings to be required to pay zakat). Around 22:40 mar of the first lecture Esposito states that Islam had mainly male scholars and was patriarchal. Fine but Women Muslim Scholars vastly outnumbered Christian/Jewish women scholars which were much more patriarchal. Its very important to contextualize. We cannot compare modern day Islam to modern day Christianity/Judaism. Many modern Muslim nations are less than 60 years old and Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity. However the first 1200 years of Islam, Islam was well ahead in women rights only to be surpassed in 1970 with voting, credit card and inheritance rights. In some ways Islam still stands on the moral high ground with a marriage gift, requirements of men to provide for women, requirement of men to attend religious services but not women and more. Always contextualize!!<br/><br/>I gave this 4 stars because it is in my opinion one of the best videos on Islam out there today that I know of. Common Ground Institute & Services is planning to release similar videos by Muslim scholars for the public. I would recommend the following scholars on You Tube for further knowledge on Islam:<br/>-Hamza Yusuf<br/>-Yasir Qadhi<br/>-Omer Suleiman<br/>-Tariq Ramadan<br/>-Abdul Hakim Murad<br/><br/>Thank you<br/>Sami Aziz<br/>Muslim Chaplain for Wesleyan University<br/>Hartford Seminary Masters in Muslim-Christian Relations

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • URI
  • San Francisco, USA
  • 02-03-15

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • United States
  • 07-14-14

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.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Maybe I wanted too much

I got this course so I could understand more about Islamic cultures today. The ideas that people and thought leaders accept are what drives the creation of a certain kind of culture. The professor never seemed to focus in on how Islamic ideas and practices give rise to the kind of cultures we see today. For example, how does institutionalizing the Pillars of Islam in a society affect the relationship of government and citizen or how the idea of freedom is conceptualized in an Islamic world view. I found it very difficult to use the information in this course to compare to my current thoughts in this area.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fair overview of Islam

Fair but not great. A bit too critical of Judaism and Christianity and also Western Civilization overall. There are better and fairer sources on Islam than this. C+ overall.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt
  • 08-20-13

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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr Iqbal Hussain
  • 01-06-16

Great introduction to this topic

I found this audiobook of tremendous value.The author has good grasp of the subject matter and presents it in a very interesting manner.It should be useful to anyone who wants to understand Islam both in a historical and contemporary context.Many myths about Islam are laid to rest and the fact that the three Abrahamic faiths have much in common is emphasised. Recommended listening!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful