Cover image for What everyone needs to know about Islam
What everyone needs to know about Islam
Esposito, John L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xviii, 204 pages ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1380 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP163 .E85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BP163 .E85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BP163 .E85 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, there has been an overwhelming demand for information about Islam. As a leading expert, John Esposito has found himself called upon to speak to a wide range of audiences, including members of Congress, the Bush administration,government agencies, the military, and the media. Out of this experience, he has identified the most pressing questions people consistently ask about Islam. In What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, Esposito presents in question-and-answer format the information that most people want to know. Esposito provides succinct, accessible, sensitive, and even-handed answers to questions that range from the general--"What do Muslims believe?" and "Whowas Muhammad?"--to more specific issues like Is Islam compatible with modernization, capitalism and democracy? How do Muslims view Judaism and Christianity? Are women second-class citizens in Islam? What is jihad? Does the Quran condone terrorism? What does Islam say about homosexuality, birthcontrol, abortion, and slavery? The editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islam and The Oxford History of Islam, and author of Unholy War and many other acclaimed works, John Esposito is one of America's leading authorities on Islam. This brief and readable book is the first place to look for information on the faith,customs, and political beliefs of the more than one billion people who call themselves Muslims.

Author Notes

John L. Esposito is University Professor of Religion and International Affairs and Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Georgetown professor Esposito has written an excellent primer on all aspects of Islam. The question-and-answer format allows readers to skip ahead to areas that interest them, including hot-button issues such as "Why are Muslims so violent?" or "Why do Muslim women wear veils and long garments?" In his answers, which are anywhere from a paragraph to several pages long, Esposito elegantly educates the reader through what the Qur'an says, how Muslims are influenced by their local cultures, and how the unique politics of Islamic countries affects Muslims' views. All three elements contribute to a fuller understanding of Islam. For instance, in answering the question on veiling, Esposito accurately clarifies that though the Qur'an instructs believers to be modest, it does not require head coverings. He continues by describing how the custom of veiling gained popularity in and after Muhammad's time as a status symbol. He ends by pointing out how some women who veil today feel they are making a social protest against judgment based on appearance as much as they are fulfilling the modesty requirement. Occasionally Esposito excludes some key information. He says that jihad is sometimes called the "Sixth Pillar" of Islam without pointing out that Western critics propagate the centrality of jihad, not Muslims. In his discussion of Qur'an 4:34, which appears to permit domestic violence in a disciplinary capacity, he omits new translations by feminist scholars that change the meaning and mitigate the controversy. However, overall, this book honestly and clearly answers the questions most non-Muslims have about Islam. (Nov.) Forecast: Esposito has become quite the commentator, airing his opinions regularly on NPR, Nightline and Fox News, and being heralded in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. Such exposure should help this primer do very well, and enjoy a long life as a backlist title. Oxford plans an initial print run of 40,000 copies. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Esposito's authorship of many important scholarly studies and reference books on Islam has established him as a leading American interpreter of the subject. In the wake of 9/11, Esposito (Georgetown Univ.) faced a deluge of questions from people who had little acquaintance with Muslims or their faith. His response has included this useful handbook for the uninitiated. What separates this work from other basic introductions is that Esposito uses questions as the organizing principle. He allows them to appear as he has surely heard them on campus and beyond (including "Why are Muslims so violent?" and "Why do they hate us?"), while grouping them under the broad topics of general information; faith and practice; Islam and other religions; customs and culture; violence and terrorism; society, politics, and economy; and Muslims in the West. The format allows considerable nuance, as in Esposito's discussion of Muslims' feelings about pets or the harsh nature of so-called hudud punishments. A very useful apparatus concludes the book, including a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an index. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates. P. S. Spalding Illinois College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
What Everyone Needs to Know About Islamp. 0
General Informationp. 1
Faith and Practicep. 4
Islam and Other Religionsp. 69
Customs and Culturep. 87
Violence and Terrorismp. 117
Society, Politics, and Economyp. 139
Muslims in the Westp. 169
Glossaryp. 181
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 189
Indexp. 194