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Top 6 Introductory Books About Islam

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Nearly one-fifth of humanity practices the faith of Islam, but few people know much about the basic beliefs of this faith. Interest in Islam has risen markedly due to the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States, the war with Iraq, and other current issues in the world. If you are looking to learn more about Islam, here are my picks for the best books to introduce you to the beliefs and practices of our faith.

1. "What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims," by Suzanne Haneef

This popular introduction answers many of the questions that people have about Islam, including: What is the religion of Islam all about? What is its view of God? How do Muslims regard Jesus? What does it have to say about morals, society, and women? Written by an American Muslim, this book presents a brief yet comprehensive survey of the basic teachings of Islam for the Western reader.
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2. "Islam," by Isma'il Al-Faruqi

This volume seeks to portray the beliefs, practices, institutions, and history of Islam from the inside - as its adherents see them. In seven chapters, the author explores the basic beliefs of Islam, the prophethood of Muhammad, institutions of Islam, artistic expression, and an historical overview. The author is a former Professor of Religion at Temple University, where he founded and chaired the Islamic Studies program.
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3. "Islam: The Straight Path," by John Esposito

Often used as a college textbook, this book introduces the faith, beliefs and practices of Islam throughout history. The author is an internationally-renowned expert on Islam. This third edition has been updated throughout and is enhanced by new material in order to more accurately reflect the true diversity of Muslim cultures.
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4. "Islam: A Short History," by Karen Armstrong

In this brief overview, Armstrong presents Islamic history from the time of the Prophet Muhammad's migration from Mecca to Madinah, up to the present day. The author is a former nun who also wrote "A History of God," "The Battle for God," "Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet," and "Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths."
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5. "Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World," by Akbar S. Ahmed

The focus of this book is on the society and culture of Islam, not on the basic fundamentals of the faith. The author tracks Islam through history and civilizations, combating many false images people have about the Muslim world.
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6. "The Cultural Atlas of Islam," by Ismail al-Faruqi

A rich presentation of Islamic civilization, beliefs, practices, and institutions.
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