Muhammad in History, Thought, and
Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet
of God. 2v. Ed. by Coeli Fitzpatrick and
Adam Hani Walker. 2014. ABC-Clio,
More than a biographical encyclopedia,
this wide-ranging set explores how the
Prophet Muhammad affected various
areas of study and explores the diversity
of Muslim tradition and interpretation
through the ages and across geographical
No God but God. By Reza Aslan. 2005.
Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385739757).
Aslan’s introduction to the history of
Islam, which also devotes several chapters
to the place of Islam in the contemporary
world, tackles its subject with serious and
well-informed scholarship, but it’s also a
One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds:
Spirituality, Identity, and Resistance
across Islamic Lands. By Raymond
William Baker. 2015. Oxford, $34.95
Baker believes it is the centrists, the Islamic mainstream, who are forging Islam’s
future. He discerns the influence of a
network of mainstream thinkers stretching from Morocco to Malaysia, inspiring
millions struggling toward globalization
and an information revolution.
Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the
New Muslim Youth Culture. By Hisham
D. Aidi. 2014. Pantheon, $29.95.
In this bracing exploration of music,
race, and cultural identity, Aidi examines
young European and American Muslims
and their search for a “non-racist utopia.”
The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the
Islamic State. By Lawrence Wright. 2016.
Knopf, $28.95. (9780385352055).
Wright, who is respected as an authority on terrorism in the Middle East, here
offers illumination for those interested
in understanding the world of religious
Threading My Prayer Rug: One
Woman’s Journey from Pakistani
Muslim to American Muslim. By
Sabeeha Rehman. 2016. Arcade, $25.99
The immigrant’s dilemma of retaining
one’s identity while assimilating into a
new society always makes for interesting reading. This story offers a unique
perspective, useful to the national conversation about Muslim immigrants.
Infidels: A History of the Conflict
between Christendom and Islam. By
Andrew Wheatcroft. 2004. Random,
hardcover, $27.95 (1400062306).
A leading British historian hears the
echoes of ancient battles in today’s reli-
ISIS: An Introduction and Guide to the
Islamic State. By Brian L. Steed. 2016.
ABC-CLIO, $58 (9781440849862).
Essays explore the origins and development of the organization, its ideological
underpinnings, and how it attracts recruits. Encyclopedia-style entries focus
on other aspects of ISIS’s activities.
Islam: A Short Guide to the Faith. Ed. by
Roger Allen and Shawkat Toorawa. 2011.
Eerdmans, $18 (9780802865601).
In this excellent guide, individual
chapters address a single topic and can
be read as discrete units. Taken collectively, they introduce the origins,
doctrines, and institutions of Islam.
Concluding chapters describe the role
of women in Islam, Islam’s interaction
with Judaism and Christianity, and
Islam in America.
Islam in the Modern World:
Challenged by the West, Threatened by
Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith with
Tradition. By Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2011.
HarperOne, $29.99 (9780061905803).
Nasr, a leading Islamic scholar, argues
for the primacy of an orthodox approach
to the faith. His writings might not resonate with those inclined to more liberal
beliefs, but they do provide an erudite
and accessible look into the struggle for
the heart of Islam.
Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim
Militancy. By Fawaz A. Gerges. 2006.
Harcourt, hardcover, $25 (015101213X).
Gerges won the trust of some promi-
nent, formerly violent jihadists, whose
personalities and words he uses to limn
The Koran: The Origins of the Book.
2010. 52min. Icarus, DVD, $348.
This intriguing documentary melds sci-
entific research with Muslim teachings to
explore the evolution of Islam.
Memories of Muhammad: Why the
Prophet Matters. By Omid Safi. 2009.
HarperOne, $24.99 (9780061231346).
Safi invites readers to lay aside prejudices
and join in a fresh investigation of Islam’s
Prophet. Using the Qur’an and other modern and ancient sources, this uncovers a
complex personality and spiritual leader.
Treasures of Islam: Artistic Glories of
the Muslim World. By Bernard O’Kane.
2007. Sterling/Duncan Baird, $35
From monumental architecture to the
most delicate calligraphy, Islamic art is often dazzling. O’Kane provides an exciting
and informative overview, accompanied
by more than 170 crisp, beautifully composed color photographs.
What Is an American Muslim?
Embracing Faith and Citizenship. By
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im. 2014.
Oxford, $27.95 (9780199895694).
The author starts with the assumption
that being American and Muslim is not
incompatible and also rejects the idea
that minority subgroups need to assimilate. Americans can have a multitude of
identities (professional, family, political,
etc.), but the most important is the shared
identity of being a citizen.
A World without Islam. By Graham
E. Fuller. 2010. Little, Brown, $25.99
Fuller argues a provocative thesis:
that tensions between the West and the
Middle East spring more from history,
economics, and political inequities than
Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here:
Untold Stories from the Fight against
Muslim Fundamentalism. By Karima
Bennoune. 2013. Norton, $27.95
Bennoune’s interview subjects deconstruct false views of Islam and inaccurate
readings of the Qur’an, shining a spotlight on those who battle with intelligence
and creativity against guns and blood lust.