Recipient of the 2004 Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement in the Humanities An introduction to Islam, today the faith of more than a billion people, set in the context of world history and of religious studies. Carl Ernst brings together Islamic religious thought and lived experience to examine traditional spirituality and the contentious issues confronting Muslims today. His approach is balanced - both sympathetic and critical. Besides providing a guide to the fundamental aspects of Islam - its sacred sources, ethical systems and spiritual practices - the author encourages the reader to reflect on these topics. This compact introduction appeals to all those who want to understand both the historical aspects of Islam as well as the place of Islam in the contemporary world. Features: *A critical perspective on Western attitudes toward Islam. *A clarification of the contemporary importance of Islam both in Euro-American and in Afro-Asiatic countries and a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism. *Access to the voice of Muslims, through translations of texts into English.
*An overview of the critical debates on such important contemporary issues as gender and veiling, state politics, and science and ethics.
Carl W. Ernst is a W.R. Kenan Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Director of the Carolina Center for the Study of Middle East and Muslim Civilizations at UNC Global. He is author of several books including Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World (EUP, 2004), Sufi Martyrs of Love (Palgrave, 2002) and Teachings of Sufism (Shambhala Publications, 1999).
Preface; 1. Islam in the Eyes of the West; 2. Approaching Islam in Terms of Religion; 3. The Sacred Sources of Islam; 4. Ethics and Life in the World; 5. Spirituality in Practice; 6. Postscript: Reimagining Islam in the 21st Century; Notes; Suggested Further Reading; Index.