Aspects of Islam

cover art
272 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781589010734 (1589010736)

August 2005
LC: 2005009496
Sales Rights: Only for sale in the U.S., its dependencies, Canada, and the Philippine Republic


Table of Contents

Aspects of Islam
Ron Geaves

One of 34 jackets or covers selected for the 2006 Book, Jacket, and Journal Show of the American Association of University Presses. Co-winner of the Illustrated Cover Award, Large Nonprofit Publishers Category of the Washington Publishers Book Design and Effectiveness Awards.

On a Monday in August 2004, three Muslim girls sat with each other on the floor of a mosque surrounded by boxes of books. Two wore traditional Muslim dress, their companion was dressed Western style, but their intention was the same. They were involved in a project to distribute almost 2 million dollars worth of books, DVDs, and videos to over 300 British public libraries. Their aim was not to convert or proselytize but to educate the public about their faith and try to offset the negative image of Islam that has developed since 9/11. Perhaps of more significance was the fact that the books used for the project were not the 'insider' literature produced by the mosques, but works of Western academics that approached their subject in a neutral and informative manner.

Ron Geaves offers a thematic and experiential exploration of the Muslim religion and world that shows it is not some homogenous entity but the dynamic faith you would expect to find in a religion over fourteen centuries old, consisting of over a billion people stretching from the USA to China.

Readers of the book require no previous knowledge of the subject. Chapters are dedicated to individual topics and range from a look at Western media representation of Islam, through controversial issues such as martyrdom, shari'a law, jihad, and the place of women. It examines the ideas of community, Sufism, fundamentalism and other sects within the faith, and also explains the source of many of the interpretations of the Prophet Mohammed, and the importance of the Muslim concept of unity.

By examining the divisions that exist within contemporary Islam, Geaves makes a special contribution to the ongoing examination of today's Muslim communities. By offering a way to better understand this tradition, Geaves helps to counteract the oversimplifications that seem to dominate popular discourse about Muslims and instead shows them as participants in a religious tradition that is still unfolding, struggling to recognize and respect its diversities while seeking to maintain a unity that all parts of it acknowledge as central.

Ron Geaves is professor of the comparative study of religion at Liverpool Hope University in England.
"This is one of the best books on Islam that I have read recently. It fits in nicely between basic textbook and the scholarly monograph, and would be valuable for anyone who has an interest in the field."—Catholic Library World

"Clear, engaging, balanced and insightful, Aspects of Islam is a welcome addition to publications on Islam. An excellent introduction to the key beliefs and practices of Islam, to the issues Muslims face today, and to critical questions raised by non-Muslims."—John L. Esposito, professor, Georgetown University, and author of What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam and Islam: The Straight Path

"An interestingly distinctive approach to a study of Islam. Geaves offers a remarkably balanced coverage of controversial topics and important ones—like shari'a and Sufism that are virtually ignored, or clearly not understood—in a style that makes them accessible to both specialists and general readers with little or no background in the subject."—John Voll, Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding at Georgetown University

"Going straight to the heart of timely and controversial issues, Geaves provides a fresh and engaging analysis of Islam in the post 9/11 world."—Jane Smith, professor of Islamic studies, Hartford Seminary

"Geaves skillfully delineates the various competing views of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, as well as those of the adherents of the faith, giving voice fairly and without misrepresentation to these competing viewpoints. This is truly an enjoyable read."—M. A. Zaki Badawi, Muslim College of Britain

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Western Media: a misrepresentation or a factual account?

3. Doctrine and Architecture: manifestations of tawhid

4. The Shari'a: the law of God or cultural construct?

5. The Umma: an homogenous unity or deeply divided?

6. Martyrdom: the Shi'a doctrine of suffering opposed to Sunni doctrine of 'Manifest Success'

7. Sufism: an aberration or the voice of traditional Islam?

8. The Prophet of God: human messenger or a manifestation of divine qualities?

9. Jihad: Islamic warfare or spiritual effort?

10. Muslim Fundamentalism: a misnomer or the heart of the faith?

11. Muslim Women: Islam's oppressed or victims of patriarchy?

Glossary of Terms