Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, this remarkable examination of the nature and history of Islam shows how the religion developed and has evolved over time, exploring its central tenets of belief and interpreting its current crisis of modernity.
Reza Aslan has studied religions at Santa Clara University, Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds an MFA in fiction from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he was also visiting professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. His work has appeared in the Nation, Slate and the New York Times. Born in Iran, he lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans.
Comparative religions scholar Aslan (Univ. of Iowa) aims to halt the showdown between East and West by arguing that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have much in common. With a five-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Aslan, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Iowa and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, argues in this informative but uneven study that a reformation of Islam is already underway. He astutely recognizes that the struggle between arch-conservative Wahhabi Islam and the innovative, reform-oriented Islam of the Prophet Muhammad are at war, dragging the United States and the West along. Aslan's brief but accurate analyses of polygyny (or polygamy), the veil, jihad and the devastating effect that European, particularly British, colonialism had on the Islamic world convey deep insight. Unfortunately, charging through more than 1,400 years of Islamic history in 300 pages means that some nuances are lost. Moreover, Aslan quietly challenges various "myths" dear to the average Muslim. He states that Muhammad could not have been illiterate, making the Qur'anic revelation less miraculous; that the egalitarian Medina Constitution-the symbol of Muhammad's great statesmanship-was actually revised in hindsight to hold such values; and the death of the Prophet's grandson Husayn at the Karbala massacre was, post-death, recast as a gesture of martyrdom by Shi'ite Muslims and not a conscious, self-sacrificial decision by Husayn himself. These lapses will bother even progressive Muslims, but non-Muslim readers will find this a sufficiently quick introduction to a complex topic. 5-city author tour. (Mar. 22) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"'Reza Aslan's No God But God is just the history of Islam I needed, judicious and truly illuminating.' A.S. Byatt" Guardian Books of the Year 2005 "'Aslan...is a superb narrator, bringing each century to life with vivid details and present tense narration that make popular history so enthralling... Illuminating... Aslan is superb on the origins and richness of Islam... A terrific read.' Glasgow Herald" "A revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried... [Aslan's]...careful scholarship and precise language dismantle...false claims and commands... Aslan is acutely perceptive.' Independent" "'Aslan is an engaging writer, his strength lies...as an observer of contemporary challenges facing Islam... Sensitive and generous' Financial Times" "'Enthralling. A book of tremendous clarity and generosity of spirit.' Jim Crace"