Alone among the world’s religions, Islam is not just surviving but flourishing. Yet many people know little about Islam and regard its continuing attraction as something of a mystery. In this book, Du Pasquier, an award-winning Swiss journalist, provides a thorough introduction to Muslim belief, history and culture. He deals not only with topical issues, such as ‘fundamentalism’ and the status of Muslim women, but provides an overview of the Qur’an, the Prophet, Islamic history, and the nature of Muslim art and literature. Unbiased yet passionate, the book offers an ‘unveiling’ which must be heeded if the present mutual incomprehension between East and West is to be overcome.
‘This book offers an exceptionally lucid and concise introduction to Islam specially intended for those with little prior knowledge or understanding of it...The author is endowed with a pronounced gift for thoroughly explaining complex issues or ideas in only a very few words.’ Maryam Jameelah (Muslim World Book Review)
‘In this excellent translation by T. J. Winter from the French original, the principal tenets of Islamic faith are presented elegantly and succinctly...Recommended to both non-Muslims who want to learn more...and to Muslims who find their commitment wavering, and are in need of intellectual reinforcement.’ Islamica
Table of Contents
The Challenge of Our Time.
Man: Axis of Creation.
The Eternal Message and its Final Bearer.
A Miracle and its Progression in History.
What One Must Believe and Do to Be a Muslim.
Civilisation of Oneness.
Spiritual Paths and Families.
Roger Du Pasquier is a Swiss journalist whose features on the Muslim world reflect a lifetime of experience and study. In 1988 he was awarded the coveted French Author's association prize.
Timothy John Winter (born in 1960), also known as Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, is a British Sunni Muslim Shaykh, researcher, writer and academic. He is the Dean of the Cambridge Muslim College, Director of Studies (Theology and Religious Studies) at Wolfson College and the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University. His work includes publications on Islamic theology and Muslim-Christian relations.In 2003 he was awarded the Pilkington Teaching Prize by Cambridge University and in 2007 he was awarded the King Abdullah I Prize for Islamic Thought for his short booklet Bombing Without Moonlight. He has consistently been included in the "500 Most Influential Muslims" list published annually by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre and was ranked in 2012 as the 50th most influential.
Excerpt from the Book:
The Challenge of Our Time
It seems that nothing on earth can still escape the crisis which convulses the modem world. To speak of the crisis of a civilisation is not enough, since the phenomenon has assumed universal proportions. The impending darkness draws ever nearer; a sense of disquiet spreads more and more widely.
Islam has been given to man precisely to help him five through this last stage of history without losing himself. The final revelation of the prophetic cycle, it offers methods of resisting the present chaos, and of re-establishing order and clarity within the soul—as well as harmony in human relations—and of achieving the higher destiny to which the Creator has called us.
Islam is addressed to man, of whom it has a deep and precise understanding, defining as it does his position in creation and before God.
Modem thought, by contrast, has no well-defined and generally accepted anthropology. Concerning man it has amassed a vast array of facts, yet the very confusion and variety of these facts betrays an inability to give a coherent definition of the human condition. In no other civilisation has there been such a complete and systematic ignorance of the reason why we are born, why we are alive, and why we must die.
Such is the paradox of our culture, which, in the first place. wishes to be ‘humanist’; in other words, to make man the criterion and the end of all things, but in which even the concept of man has broken down. Having been made into a perfected monkey by evolutionism, he has been relieved of whatever tenuous coherence was left to him by the Philosophy of the absurd. The human creature is henceforth to resemble a puppet shaken and disjointed by a mechanism which he himself has set in motion but the chaotic and accelerating movement of which he is no longer able to control.
Proclaimed as absurd, fife on earth has effectively lost its meaning. Man is offered a multitude of material possibilities and advantages undreamt of by earlier generations, but, since we are now ignorant of what man is, and of what his deep aspirations might be, not one of these miracles can prevent him from foundering in his own despair.
None the less, modem civilization has confidently declared that it has brought happiness to the human race. The French Revolution adopted a Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the American constitution claims to assure the ‘pursuit of happiness’ to every citizen. The nineteenth century sanctioned in every Western country, and even in a few others, the grand idea of Progress by virtue of which the Golden Age lies not behind but before us.
For some time the facts have seemed to confirm this belief. The material conditions of the lower strata of Western society have been greatly improved, individual freedom has been guaranteed to all, science has given man a sense of being incomparably better informed than the greatest sages of past generations, and technological developments have placed tools of a previously unimaginable power in his hands.
On another level, and through psychological theories which claim to have located at last the true centre of gravity of the human being—at the level of sexuality—individuals are promised that they are capable of ‘self-fulfillment’ simply by throwing off every constraint and following their own inclinations. For many this has been a sufficient excuse to suppress the morality inherited from the past, henceforth to be considered a mass of obsolete prejudices.
In this way, modem man believes that he has come of age, the concomitant assumption being that his forbears of earlier centuries were childish. There is no shortage of philosophers, or even of theologians, to confirm him in this belief.
Yet the facts themselves have at last exploded these theories.