Author: John Esposito
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 1407 Binding: Softcover
Description from the publisher:
Originally $395 by Oxford University Press, now price reduced!
The West knows little of the world's second-largest religion, too often hearing only of the terrorists who try to exploit it for political ends. Muslims are found in all parts of the world, many of them far from the religion's origins in the Middle East. (Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population.) This new encyclopedia is worldwide in scope, treating every part of the globe where Muslims are found, and focuses on the last 200 years. Editor Esposito, a faculty member in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, has recruited more than 450 distinguished contributors from the fields of art history, religion, science, anthropology, political science, and other disciplines. Some of them are originally from the Islamic world but teaching at universities in the U.S. and Europe; others are at institutions in 30 countries ranging from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia to the Indonesian Institute for the Sciences.
The 750 entries include regional overviews (Islam in Europe, Islam in the Americas) and articles on specific countries (including the predominantly Muslim states of the former Soviet Union). There is coverage of the major branches of Islam, of Islamic sects, and of such related faiths as Druze, Bah'ai, and Nation of Islam. The diversity of Islamic religious belief and practice is discussed in such articles as Circumcision, Funerary Rites, and Pillars of Islam. But because Islam pervades all aspects of believers' lives, there are also entries on politics, law, economics, science and medicine, and the arts. The lengthy article Cassettes, for example, describes the impact of this technology on the politics of the Islamic world. Communism and Islam discusses the philosophical differences between these two belief systems and the places in the world where they have led to conflict. There are entries for specific organizations and movements (Ba'th Parties, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas) and on the relationship of Islam to other religions (Christianity and Islam). Muslim views on such social issues as Family Planning and Surrogate Motherhood are examined. There are biographies of people from 24 nations, ranging from Muhammad to Malcolm X. Coverage seems current; for example, Balkan States refers to the "gruesome combat that began in the spring of 1992."
Articles range in length from 500 words to 10,000 words on broad topics (Islamic State, Popular Religion, Secularism, Women and Islam) and contain see also references. Some entry headings are in Arabic, but see references lead from the English equivalent, for example, from Pilgrimage to Hajj and from Crusade to Jihad. Entries conclude with bibliographies, some of which are annotated. They list mostly titles in English, though occasionally sources in other languages are included. Black-and-white photographs are provided for a few articles (Aesthetic Theory, Architecture, Calligraphy, Gardens), but the reader wishes for more, especially in such articles as Dress and Textiles. A few entries have tables, for example, data on universities in Education. A synoptic outline of contents in volume 4 lists all entries under such headings as Schools of Thought and Culture and Society. This outline helps the reader with limited knowledge of the topic to find appropriate entries. For example, listed under Mysticism are all the Sufi orders for which there are entries. A detailed index follows, with provision of see references from English to Arabic terms.
While this set provides a scholarly treatment of the subject, most articles are accessible to the educated layperson. Articles on some controversial topics such as Mujahidin, Rushdie Affair, and Terrorism won't satisfy all readers, but every attempt has been made to provide a balanced approach, and the inclusion of contributors from many parts of the world has helped to avoid what the editor calls the "pitfalls of Orientalism." The Encyclopedia of Islam (Brill, 1954^-) covers classical and medieval Islam, not its modern contexts. It is less accessible to the lay reader, requiring a knowledge of Arabic. The Cambridge History of Islam (1970) is now dated and tends to emphasize the Middle East. Presenting a rounded picture of a subject about which Americans hear only the extremes, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World is an important purchase for academic and public libraries. Sandy Whiteley
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