Though it is the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam remains shrouded by ignorance and fear. What is the essence of this ancient faith? Is it a religion of peace or war? How does Allah differ from the God of Jews and Christians? Can an Islamic state be founded on democratic values such as pluralism and human rights? A writer and scholar of comparative religions, Reza Aslan has earned international acclaim for the passion and clarity he has brought to these questions. In No god but God, challenging the "clash of civilizations" mentality that has distorted our view of Islam, Aslan explains this critical faith in all its complexity, beauty, and compassion.Contrary to popular perception in the West, Islam is a religion firmly rooted in the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Aslan begins with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu in which the Prophet Muhammad lived. The revelations that Muhammad received in Mecca and Medina, which were recorded in the Quran, became the foundation for a radically more egalitarian community, the likes of which had never been seen before. According to Reza Aslan, we are now living in the era of "the Islamic Reformation". No god but God is a persuasive and elegantly written account of the roots of this reformation and the future of Islamic faith.More
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Informative and Interesting!
No god but God was an addictive listen - I couldn't wait to get back to it. I originally chose to listen to it after hearing a recording of Aslan speaking at Stanford, but was intrigued enough to learn more.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the text. I only knew a little bit about Islam before this book, which is partially why I chose it. This book provides a great historical overview to the religion as well as the cultures that have developed around the faith. I also appreciated the historical context because it gave me a much better picture of what is going on right now (both in the Middle East and around the world). The basic tenets of belief are also explained, as well as some cultural (though not necessarily religious) habits that tend to be popular in the Muslim world. I also was very interested in Aslan's belief that we are currently experiencing the Islamic Reformation (similar to the Christian Reformation), and was able to see the parallels. I feel like this book has given me a great start towards understanding the Muslim faith.
I only have two complaints about the audiobook. The first is the chapter on Sufism was difficult to follow as an audiobook (maybe it would be better in text). I realize that the book wouldn't have been a complete picture Islam without mentioning Sufism, but trying to cram what appears to be an incredibly complex set of beliefs into two chapters made it hard to keep up with.
My other complaint is how Aslan continuously tried to frame Islam as similar to Christianity and Judaism. I appreciated the historical similarities, but in some instances it just seemed a bit overdone. Perhaps he was using this tactic to appease to people who are against Islam as a religion, and I don't feel like I am in that camp. I understand that people, regardless of their religions, have done terrible things in the name of their religion - but that doesn't necessarily make their religion evil.
This book is an important investment of your time. In approximately 12 hours, you can gain a basic understanding of the faith of 22% of the world. Its pretty inexcusable to know next to nothing about such a predominant religion.
A brilliant short history of Islam
I would listen again because the subject matter is not only critical to our modern day understanding of Islam, but also to familiarize myself with the history of the religion.
Zealot by Aslan follows a similar overview of the history of a major religion--in that case, Christianity--but No God But God differs a bit in that it looks at how Islam has been splintered off into various sects and the role of those sects in the Middle East.
This is a history, so this question is not really applicable.
I was moved by the initial peace and egalitarianism espoused by Mohammed and his tolerance for people of other faiths. It is a stark contrast to the hatred of and by religious "fundamentalists," whose fundamental belief seems to always be composed of hatred of all others who may differ from them.
Do not believe the negative reviews of this book or of Zealot. Those reviews appear to all stem from the very same religious intolerance and ignorance that they accuse the author of possessing.
- Kevin Bartels