Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What Is Islam?

If you've ever asked yourself, "What is Islam?"--or some variation thereof, you can begin to answer that question with the aid of a new publication to which yours truly has contributed: Encyclopedia of Islam, Juan E. Campo, ed. (2009). This one volume encyclopedia is available in both hardbound and paperback editions and is at once comprehensive and affordable. It is meant to be accessible to the general reader with little or no previous knowledge of this religious worldview. An accurate and succinct introduction is found on the back cover:

Encyclopedia of Islam is part of a set of encyclopedias on the religions of the world that emphasize the living faiths and their historical and social backgrounds. In about 550 A-Z entries, this encyclopedia provides easy access to the theological concepts, personalities, historical events, institutions, and movements that helped to shape Islam and the way it is practiced today.

[It] is designed to meet the demand for accurate information about Islam, particularly with regard to it place in the contemporary world. A wide range of entries covers Islam's historical origins, major traditions, and local customs, as well as the interrelationships between Islam and other religions and the customs and societies of civilizations that have been influenced by Islam.

A comprehensive introduction, further readings, cross-references, and a chronology, in addition to photographs, a general bibliography, and a thorough index, make Encyclopedia of Islam an easy-to-to use and essential reference for students, researchers, and general readers.

Juan Campo, one of my former teachers and now a dear friend, is an associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

I contributed the entries on Civil Society; Constitutionalism; Constitutional Revolution (Iran); Democracy; Abu Nasr al-Farabi (early Islamic philosopher); Justice; Mu‘tazilah ('rationalist' school of Islamic theology); Philosophy; and jinni (co-authored with editor).

Please purchase a copy and recommend it to your local and school libraries.