Understanding Islam and the Muslims: The Muslim Family and Islam and World Peace Paperback – Jan 1 2002
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About the Author
Head of Islamic Studies, Cambridge University and the editor for the Islamic Texts Society Al-Ghazali series, Dr. Winter is one of the most recognized and respected scholars of Islam today.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book should be welcomed by intelligent non-muslims (and uninformed muslims for that matter), who prefer *not* to be informed solely by the loud cries of the violent and misguided minority. (In the same way that an intelligent observer of Chritinianity would not want to form their opinion of it on the basis that Hitler and Mussolini were Catholics and that they were partially supported by the Vatican).
To the reviewer (Seth J. Frantzman) who said that people who really want to understand Islam should read the Quran instead of this book: one can only reply that a) any intelligent and unbiased reader who really manages to deeply read the Quran will at once be understand the beauty of Islam, and b) Mr Frantzman's statement the Quran enjoins people to "beat your wife" is a complete fabrication. It is, however, sadly typical of the detractors of Islam that they attempt to use the force of lies and fear to undermine it. Note that the reviewer did not say which chapter and verse this line can be found (the common practise when quoting from the Quran), simply because the line does not exist in the Quran.
But anyway, this is a very good book. To be read by open-minded individuals who want to understand.
The book also offers the reader a peek into the incredibly diverse cultures of Muslims -- from Taiwan and China, to Central Asia, to Africa, to Bosnia and Denmark, and to the US (among many others) -- through stunning National Geographic-calibre photographs which by themselves are worth the price of admission. The book also goes beyond the usually boring list of basic by relating colourful anecdotes about Muslim warrior-queens and other leaders, particular mosques, and gorgeous arts & crafts from around the Muslim world.
This book will not be useful to people like the previous reviewer, Mr. Seth Frantzman from Israel, who seek to confirm their stereotypes and demonize an entire faith for their own political purposes. Judging from his review, it is not even clear that he read the book, as it answers virtually all of points he raises even in its slim form. Yes, there are modesty laws for men, and in traditional Muslim societies men cover their heads as well. No, the burka (covering one's face) is not required by law -- it is a cultural phenomenon, and it is not worn by the overwhelmingly vast majority of Muslim women. Covering the face is actually prohibited in Mecca. The Dar al-Islam/Dar Al-Harb distinction is a medieval distinction, and it refers to the places where Muslims may freely practice their faith and where they may not-- meaning that virtually the whole world today is considered Dar al-Islam. I could go on, but you'd be much better off having Cambridge scholars explain it to you... buy this book!
The first problem, of course, is that the Quran, like most religious texts and astrological forecasts, is replete with vague and contradictory passages that can be cited by anyone for just about anything, and is frequently cited by critics of Muslim to creach conclusions diametrically opposed to those of the author Winter.
More fundamentally, what the Quran says is utterly irrelevant. The Quran means whatever the majority of Muslims today think it means. What is relevant is the Islam that is in actual practice today--the beliefs and politics of Muslims worldwide in 2005.
Polls show that more than 90% of the populations of Palestine and Pakistan believe the 9/11 attacks were justified by the United States' policies toward the Muslim world in general and Palestine and Israel in particular. The percentages are almost as high in most other heavily Muslim countries. These are hardly the beliefs of a peaceful and tolerate religion.
However noble its roots (which is subject to question), Islam today bears little resemblance to the Islam of centuries ago, having been hijacked and perverted on a world-wide scale by the Saudi-backed Wahabbism and the brainwashing of children, and creation of psychotic assassins, in the madrassas--the so-called "religious schools"--started and funded in many Muslim countries by the Saudis.
What kind of religion can create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cold-blooded psychotic killers? Not one of peace and tolerance.
People like this author Winter love to dismiss the Muslim terrorists and their millions of supporters and apologists as an alleged "extremist" or fringe group. They are indeed extremist, but they most assuredly are not a fringe group. To the contrary, they represent the vast majority of Muslims worldwide today. Sadly, the peaceful and tolerant Muslims--and there are many--are a small and decreasing minority.