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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (4 Volume Set)

by John L. Esposito

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The Oxford Encyclopedia is a modern work in two senses. First, and more plainly, it deals primarily with topics of the past two centuries. . . . [It] not only provides entries on up-to-date topics (such as surrogate motherhood and the Muslim Brethren), but it also follows up old institutions (inheritance, waqf) into modern times. Particularly helpful is the serious coverage of new Muslim communities in the West and of twentieth century Islamic thinkers . . . .

Some entries deal with ambitious subjects such as book publishing, dance, and economic development, and convey a sense of the topic in just a few paragraphs. Others deal with arcane topics (Islam in Suriname, the Hujjatiya school of thought) that otherwise would be beyond the reach of most readers. An interested reader might spend hours leafing through the four volumes, and he will consistently find well-presented and informative articles. . . .

The Oxford Encyclopedia is modern in a second sense too: in spirit. Like many other reference works in the age of deconstruction, it faces problems of identity and purpose. An encyclopedia used to be a straight-forward compendium of known and useful facts. But when scholars increasingly agree that truth depends on one's vantage point (and especially one's gender, race, and class), the encyclopedic function becomes far less obvious. A large number of the 450 contributors to this work would seem to accept the modern notion that objectivity being unobtainable, there's little point in even trying. . . .

The crisis of the Muslim world - attested to by every serious analyst of the subject - can hardly be found in the Oxford Encyclopedia. Instead, this is a formal presentation for outsiders, hoping they will come away with a good impression. . . .

Apologetics, once the preserve of Islamic polemicists, has invaded the universities; that is the unhappy message of the Oxford Encyclopedia. The base of knowledge is formidable, but the political constraints are stifling. If only the editor had the wisdom and discipline to rule out politically tinged submissions from his contributors, the Oxford Encyclopedia would be an excellent tome. But then, that would be asking for a very different academy than the one we actually have.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195148037, Paperback)

This unique reference is a comprehensive encyclopedia dedicated to the institutions, religion, politics, and culture in Muslim societies throughout the world. Placing particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World contains over 750 articles in four volumes on Muslims in the Arab heartland as well as South and Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

An invaluable resource, the Encyclopedia offers extensive comparative and systematic analyses of Islamic beliefs, institutions, movements, practices, and peoples on an international scale. The alphabetically arranged articles range from brief 500-word essays to major interpretive and synthetic treatment of topics such as the Islamic state, pilgrimage, law, marriage, and foreign relations. Related entries cover areas of general interest such as social and political movements, women, Muslim minorities, human rights, Islam in the West, and interreligious affairs. And prominent figures that had a lasting impact on Islam are explored including Muhammad, Aga Khan, Malcolm X, Muhammad Iqbal, 'Ali Shari 'ati, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Hasan al-Turabi.

Truly multidisciplinary, this work reflects the breadth and depth of contemporary scholarship in Islamic studies. Combining the tools of the humanities and social sciences to examine the interrelationship of religion, politics, and culture in Muslim societies, it explains the changing realities of Muslim life. Its unique focus makes The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World an invaluable reference for scholars and students of many disciplines, government and media analysts, and anyone interested in increasing their understanding of Islamic politics and culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:20 -0400)

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