Islam by Malise Ruthven

I got this book, Islam by Malise Ruthven, from the A Very Short Introduction series because I am studying the Middle East and I wanted to understand better the “basics” of Islam. This book covers a lot of topics relating to Islam and has important primary sources included in it. At about 160 pages, it is a good primer.

Islam by Malise Ruthven

The book is interesting and worth reading. The let down, if I can say that, considering that I gave the book 4 stars, is that he tried to do too much in not a lot of pages. The topic of Islam and feminism is too wide to be covered properly in such a short book. While we, in the west, might see Islam incompatible with feminism or women’s rights, at different stages, Muslim women had more rights than European ones. For example regarding inheritance in the middle ages. It is a fascinating subject which needs exploring, but there isn’t enough space in a short introduction.

I liked that he talked about the basics, what is a sunnah, about the Shiis and Sunnis, and so on. He is doing a great job at being as impartial as possible, which must have been hard to do considering that he was talking about a religion.

Islam by Malise Ruthven – A Very Short Introduction

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Oxford University Press
Year it was published: 2000 (first published in 1997)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History
Pages: 161

About the author: Malise Ruthven is the author of Islam in the World, The Divine Supermarket: Shopping for God in America, A Satanic Affair: Salman Rushdie and the Wrath of Islam and several other books. His Islam: A Very Short Introduction has been published in several languages, including Chinese, Korean, Romanian, Polish, Italian and German.

A former scriptwriter with the BBC Arabic and World Services, Dr Ruthven holds an MA in English Literature and a PhD in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. He has taught Islamic studies, cultural history and comparative religion at the University of Aberdeen, the University of California, San Diego, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire and Colorado College.

Now a full-time writer, he is currently working on Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction and Arabesque and Crucifix, a study in comparative religious iconography.
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6 thoughts on “Islam by Malise Ruthven”

  • I enjoy books like this because they give me insight as to whether I want to dig any deeper in the subject. Even so, I can imagine it would be hard to condense this topic into so few pages.
    Kelly recently posted…More hummusMy Profile

    • Yes, some topics are so complicated it is a very hard choice what to include and what not. This might make the books even more interesting and worth reading.

  • This shortened version would probably be plenty long enough for me, as I am not that interested in the topic, although purely from a general knowledge and regular ‘news watcher’ point of view, it would be good to bone up on some of the basics, such as the differences between the Sunni’s and Shia’s … They do say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but I would take my chances, as these bite-sized booklets are a great taster for a subject! 🙂
    Yvonne (@Fiction_Books) recently posted…Death On A Winter’s Dayby Verity BrightBooks On TourReviewMy Profile

    • Yes, this series is really good. A small and short book, but with enough information to get a sense of the topic.

  • I’m afraid these Very Short Introductions always just leave me wishing I’d read a long introduction instead! However I can really see the appeal of them when you’re studying and don’t have time to read in depth about every single aspect of a subject.

    • You are right, these kind of books offer an overview on a topic and they are great, overall, even if I’m not necessarily marking them with 5 stars. 🙂

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