islam

Islam for Dummies  by Professor Malcolm Clark (2003. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-764-55503-9)

Though I’ve been a Christian my whole life, I like many modern men and women, still search and seek for answers. Answers to the questions: “Why are we here?” and “Is this all there is?” and other philosophical/religious queries. So, I’ve not only read the Bible multiple times trying to understand the roots and underpinnings of my own faith, but I’ve read The Book of Moron cover to cover (there’s a review in the Archives section of this blog) and last year, I began to study and read The Koran. With The Book of Mormon, I took up my quest to make it through the text not so much because I wished to understand the faith behind the faces of Mitt Romney, Glen Beck, and Marie Osmond, but more as research for my novel about polygamy, Laman’s River. On the other hand, my study of The Koran is fueled by a desire to understand why religious zealots across the world, but most predominantly in the birthplace of all three major monotheistic branches of faith-the Middle East-deign to blow themselves and innocent men, women, and children to oblivion, all in the name of Allah. I wasn’t finding the answer to my question reading the text of The Koran and so, I thought maybe Professor Clark’s tutorial could assist my research.

Like all “Dummies” texts, this book is very straight forward, well organized, and written at about the high school level, all of which I found refreshing. The one major drawback to my copy of the book (ordered through The Bookstore at Fitger’s) is that much has happened in the world regarding conflicts within and involving the Moslems since 2003, the year my copy was published. My edition of the book ends not long after the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq on the heels of 9/11/2000. So there is nothing in the book dealing with the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, and the more recent bombings, attacks, and conflicts within and without Islam. Still, Clark’s effort does give the reader a basic primer in the faith, people, culture, and history of Islam. I obtained, by spending my time with this book, a basic understanding of the religion and an appreciation, I think, that we, the West, have underestimated the import of Islam on the world. I am nearly through my reading of The Koran and, having now gained a better framework for reading the text through Professor Clark’s work, I may have to re-read Mohammad’s message to his people to gain a fuller understanding of how it is connected to today’s events.

What I came away with after racing through Islam for Dummies is an appreciation for the variety of branches of this faith along with a comprehension that the conflicts between peoples who adhere to Islam, such as the Iraqis and the Iranians, have much to do with their views of Islam and The Prophet, causing religious disagreement and discord not unlike the debates that rage between Catholics, Evangelicals, and mainstream Protestants in Christianity. The difference may be that, in large part, because the Christian faith is centuries older than Islam, Christianity may have, through the Reformation, heresy trials, and various purges, completed its own period of conflict and unrest and human tragedy whereas Islam remains in that transitional phase, sorting out the message handed down by God through his Messenger. Perhaps, as Catholics and Lutherans have finally put up the sword, so too will Sunni and Shi’a come to a place of peaceful co-existence, and also come to a place of quiet and calm with respect to the non-Moslem world as well. One can only hope.

4 stars out of 5. A bit dated but a valuable resource.

Peace.

Mark

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