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Publisher's Summary

How familiar are you with the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion? In these 12 lectures, Professor Esposito guides you through the facts and myths surrounding Islam and its more than 1.2 billion adherents. Many in the West know little about the faith and are familiar only with the actions of a minority of radical extremists, but this lecture series will help you better understand Islam's role as both a religion and a way of life, and its deep impact on world affairs both historically and today.

What does the future hold for Islam and the West in the new century? How will it change under the influence of conservatives, reformers, and extremists? Moving from Muhammad to the present, from the 7th to the 21st centuries, you'll explore Muslim beliefs, practices, and history in the context of its significance and impact on Muslim life and society through the ages, as well as world events today. Topics you'll cover include the life and legacy of the prophet Muhammad; the nature and true meaning of jihad; the Muslim beliefs about other faiths such as Judaism and Christianity; Islamic contributions to mathematics, science, and art; the intricate relationship between Islam, modernization, capitalism, and democracy; and much more.
Professor Esposito takes a closer look at the historical development of two great Islamic institutions: Islamic law and Islamic mysticism. And he examines the worldwide "struggle for the soul of Islam" occurring today between conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Sammy Aziz on 03-27-17

Muslim review of the course

If you could sum up Great World Religions: Islam in three words, what would they be?

Accurate, fair, best

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses and John L. Esposito ? Why or why not?

Yes because its the best out there.

Any additional comments?

I found the first 2 videos to be fair and truthful. John Esposito does an excellent job of explaining the religion, the diversity of the religion and the 5 pillars. He brings in the concept of Jihad masterfully at the end of the second video.

The only complaints which were really small mistakes were around the 38 second mark in the first video in which he stated that some Muslim nations ban women from driving along with other issues. The reality is only Saudi Arabia bans women from driving which Professor Esposito is cited stating on politifact. At the 11:31 mark he states that Zakat is paid in Ramadan. Zakat is actually paid 1 year from when one meets the nisab (minimum requirement of savings to be required to pay zakat). Around 22:40 mar of the first lecture Esposito states that Islam had mainly male scholars and was patriarchal. Fine but Women Muslim Scholars vastly outnumbered Christian/Jewish women scholars which were much more patriarchal. Its very important to contextualize. We cannot compare modern day Islam to modern day Christianity/Judaism. Many modern Muslim nations are less than 60 years old and Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity. However the first 1200 years of Islam, Islam was well ahead in women rights only to be surpassed in 1970 with voting, credit card and inheritance rights. In some ways Islam still stands on the moral high ground with a marriage gift, requirements of men to provide for women, requirement of men to attend religious services but not women and more. Always contextualize!!

I gave this 4 stars because it is in my opinion one of the best videos on Islam out there today that I know of. Common Ground Institute & Services is planning to release similar videos by Muslim scholars for the public. I would recommend the following scholars on You Tube for further knowledge on Islam:
-Hamza Yusuf
-Yasir Qadhi
-Omer Suleiman
-Tariq Ramadan
-Abdul Hakim Murad

Thank you
Sami Aziz
Muslim Chaplain for Wesleyan University
Hartford Seminary Masters in Muslim-Christian Relations

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

By Garrett on 07-01-15


This course is actually a series of essays read aloud by the professor, with no attempt to make them into lectures. As a result, the monotonous pacing and complex sentence structure make it almost impossible to listen attentively. This is the first Great Course I've e we found to be so poorly done.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Matt on 08-20-13

Highly compressed scholarship

This is the first "Great Courses" audiobook I've listened to and I have to say that I'm very impressed. I know quite a lot about Islam and religion in general and I was dubious about how much I would really learn from such a short course. However, I have been very pleasantly surprised! Prof. Esposito packs an enormous amount into each 30min lecture but does so with such enthusiasm and precision that you never feel that you're drowning.

The great strength of this course is its holistic approach. I knew a lot of the content before but I had never heard it presented with such an emphasis on context and the historical development of Islam. In Prof. Esposito's hands, familiar facts and concepts develop new significance as he shows how the pieces fit together to create the whole; I can think of no higher praise for a teacher.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

By Dr Iqbal Hussain on 01-06-16

Great introduction to this topic

I found this audiobook of tremendous value.The author has good grasp of the subject matter and presents it in a very interesting manner.It should be useful to anyone who wants to understand Islam both in a historical and contemporary context.Many myths about Islam are laid to rest and the fact that the three Abrahamic faiths have much in common is emphasised. Recommended listening!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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