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Inspiring Books

General Books

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

During the tenth step, "Knowledge," in Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong recommended an exercise based on many of the books in this list.  However, some additional books have been added.  Books marked with an asterrisk are books noted as being a good introduction and starting point to working with issues that are related to compassion and understanding. A Compassion Reader follows this section and offers excerpts from many of the books in this list.



Abou El Fadl, Khaled with Tariq Ali, Milton Viorst, John Esposito, and others.  The Place of Tolerance in Islam (Beacon Press, 2002).

Khaled Abou El Fadl, a prominent critic of Islamic puritanism, leads off this lively debate by arguing that Islam is a deeply tolerant religion. Injunctions to violence against nonbelievers stem from misreadings of the Qur'an, he claims, and even jihad, or so-called holy war, has no basis in Qur'anic text or Muslim theology but instead grew out of social and political conflict.

Many of Abou El Fadl's respondents think differently. Some contend that his brand of Islam will only appeal to Westerners and students in "liberal divinity schools" and that serious religious dialogue in the Muslim world requires dramatic political reforms. Other respondents argue that theological debates are irrelevant and that our focus should be on Western sabotage of such reforms. Still others argue that calls for Islamic "tolerance" betray the Qur'anic injunction for Muslims to struggle against their oppressors.

The debate underscores an enduring challenge posed by religious morality in a pluralistic age: how can we preserve deep religious conviction while participating in what Abou El Fadl calls "a collective enterprise of goodness" that cuts across confessional differences?



Abu-Nimer, Mohammed.  Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam: Theory and Practice (University Press of Florida, 2003).

"Most approaches to violence or its opposite in Islam try to establish that the religion of the Prophet is one or the other, and thus get nowhere. Avoiding this trap, Abu-Nimer has given us a wide-ranging and thoroughly researched study that will be of interest to scholars and of use to peace builders."~Michael Nagler, University of California, Berkeley
Written by a Muslim scholar, lecturer, and trainer in conflict resolution, this book examines the largely unexplored theme of nonviolence and peace building in Islamic religion, tradition, and culture. After comprehensively reviewing the existing studies on this topic, Abu-Nimer presents solid evidence for the existence of principles and values in the Qur'an, Hadith, and Islamic tradition that support the application of nonviolence and peace building strategies in resolving disputes.

Abu-Nimer addresses the challenges that face the utilization of peace building and nonviolent strategies in an Islamic context and explores these challenges on both local and global levels. Through a discussion of the structural and cultural obstacles to peace building and nonviolence, the author explains the gap between Islamic values and ideals and their applications in day-to-day reality.

To illustrate the actual practice of these values and principles of peace building, the book analyzes three case studies, drawing from the political, sociocultural, and professional arenas. The initial case study discusses the First Palestinian Intifada; it is analyzed as a nonviolent political movement in which Islamic cultural and religious values and rituals played an important role in mobilizing communities to join the movement.  The second case study focuses on the role that such values play in traditional Arab dispute-resolution practices such as Sulha (mediation, arbitration, and reconciliation); it extracts lessons and principles used by Arab traditional elders who peacefully resolve family, interpersonal, and community disputes. The third case study discusses the obstacles and challenges facing professionals who provide peace-building and conflict-resolution training and initiatives within the Islamic world.

Combining theory with practical applications of peace building, conflict resolution, and nonviolent initiatives in Islamic communities, Abu-Nimer provides a framework for further developing and utilizing these principles in an Islamic context.



*Ahmed, Leila.  A Border Passage: From Cairo to America--A Woman’s Journey (Penguin Books, Reissue edition, 2000).

In language that vividly evokes the lush summers of Cairo and the stark beauty of the Arabian desert, Leila Ahmed tells a moving tale of her Egyptian childhood growing up in a rich tradition of Islamic women and describes how she eventually came to terms with her identity as a feminist living in America.
As a young woman in Cairo in the 1940s and '50s, Ahmed witnessed some of the major transformations of this century—the end of British colonialism, the creation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism, and the breakdown of Egypt's once multireligious society. Amid the turmoil, she searched to define herself—and to see how the world defined her—as a woman, a Muslim, an Egyptian, and an Arab. In this memoir, she poignantly reflects upon issues of language, race, and nationality, while unveiling the hidden world of women's Islam. Ahmed's story wil be an inspiration to anyone who has ever struggled to define their own cultural identity. 

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



*Ahmed, Leila.  Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (Yale University Press, 1993).

This book presents an historical overview of women and gender in Islam. It is written from a feminist perspective, using the analytic tools of contemporary gender studies. The results of its investigations cast new light on the issues covered.



*Ahmed, Salman, with Robert Schroeder.  Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution (Free Press; First edition, 2010).

The story you are about to read is the story of a light-bringer....Salman Ahmad inspires me to reach always for the greatest heights and never to fear....Know that his story is a part of our history.

~Melissa Etheridge, from the Introduction 

With 30 million record sales under his belt, and with fans including Bono and Al Gore, Pakistan-born Salman Ahmad is renowned for being the first rock & roll star to destroy the wall that divides the West and the Muslim world. Rock & Roll Jihad is the story of his incredible journey.

Facing down angry mullahs and oppressive dictators who wanted all music to be banned from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Salman Ahmad rocketed to the top of the music charts, bringing Westernstyle rock and pop to Pakistani teenagers for the first time. His band Junoon became the U2 of Asia, a sufi - rock group that broke boundaries and sold a record number of albums. But Salman's story began in New York, where he spent his teen years learning to play guitar, listening to Led Zeppelin, hanging out at rock clubs and Beatles Fests, making American friends, and dreaming of rock-star fame. That dream seemed destined to die when his family returned to Pakistan and Salman was forced to follow the strictures of a newly religious -- and stratified -- society. He finished medical school, met his soul mate, and watched his beloved funkytown of Lahore transform with the rest of Pakistan under the rule of Zia into a fundamentalist dictatorship: morality police arrested couples holding hands in public, Little House on the Prairie and Live Aid were banned from television broadcasts, and Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers proliferated on college campuses via the Afghani resistance to Soviet occupation in the north.

Undeterred, the teenage Salman created his own underground jihad: his mission was to bring his beloved rock music to an enthusiastic new audience in South Asia and beyond. He started a traveling guitar club that met in private Lahore spaces, mixing Urdu love poems with Casio synthesizers, tablas with Fender Stratocasters, and ragas with power chords, eventually joining his first pop band, Vital Signs. Later, he founded Junoon, South Asia's biggest rock band, which was followed to every corner of the world by a loyal legion of fans called Junoonis. As his music climbed the charts, Salman found himself the target of religious fanatics and power-mad politicians desperate to take him and his band down. But in the center of a new generation of young Pakistanis who go to mosques as well as McDonald's, whose religion gives them compassion for and not fear of the West, and who see modern music as a "rainbow bridge" that links their lives to the rest of the world, nothing could stop Salman's star from rising.

Today, Salman continues to play music and is also a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, traveling the world as a spokesperson and using the lessons he learned as a musical pioneer to help heal the wounds between East and West -- lessons he shares in this illuminating memoir.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Al-Ali, Naji.  A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali (Verso, 2009).

Naji al-Ali grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in the south Lebanese city of Sidon, where his gift for drawing was discovered by the Palestinian poet Ghassan Kanafani in the late 1950s. Early the following decade he left for Kuwait, embarking on a thirty-year career that would see his cartoons published daily in newspapers from Cairo to Beirut, London to Paris. 

Resolutely independent and unaligned to any political party, Naji al-Ali strove to speak to and for the ordinary Arab people; the pointed satire of his stark, symbolic cartoons brought him widespread renown. Through his most celebrated creation, the witness-child Handala, al-Ali criticized the brutality of Israeli occupation, the venality and corruption of the regimes in the region, and the suffering of the Palestinian people, earning him many powerful enemies and the soubriquet “the Palestinian Malcolm X.” 

For the first time in book form, A Child in Palestine presents the work of one of the Arab world’s greatest cartoonists, revered throughout the region for his outspokenness, honesty and humanity. 

That was when the character Handala was born. The young, barefoot Handala was a symbol of my childhood. He was the age I was when I had left Palestine and, in a sense, I am still that age today and I feel that I can recall and sense every bush, every stone, every house and every tree I passed when I was a child in Palestine. The character of Handala was a sort of icon that protected my soul from falling whenever I felt sluggish or I was ignoring my duty. That child was like a splash of fresh water on my forehead, bringing me to attention and keeping me from error and loss. He was the arrow of the compass, pointing steadily towards Palestine. Not just Palestine in geographical terms, but Palestine in its humanitarian sense—the symbol of a just cause, whether it is located in Egypt, Vietnam or South Africa.

~ Naji al-Ali, in conversation with Radwa Ashour 100 black-and-white cartoons



Ansari, Zafar Ishaq, and John Esposito, eds.  Muslims and the West: Encounter and Dialogue (Vine House Distribution, 2009).

Muslims and the West: Encounter and Dialogue is a collection of twelve select papers from a 'milestone' conference held in October 1997, which marked a vital step towards building bridges of understanding and friendship across the two civilizations. The conference represented a serious attempt to understand the complex relationship which exists between Muslims and the West spanning over fourteen centuries. In these papers, twelve highly distinguished scholars from across the globe address the subject with depth of understanding and sharpness of perception, in a style strikingly candid yet sober and balanced. 'This extraordinary collection of essays by Muslim scholars thoroughly conversant with Western learning and languages and non-Muslim scholars equally well-schooled in Muslim learning and its history is indispensable reading for anyone intent upon understanding relations between Islam and the West. Patient investigations of how Muslims, Islam, and Muslim cultures have been misrepresented in Western literature and scholarship through the ages lead to gentle suggestions for Westerners to correct their errors and Muslims to improve cultural relations. From them, we learn why we must reconsider our basic presuppositions about the other, whoever that other is' - Charles E. Butterworth PH.D, Professor of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park. '"Muslims and the West" is an informative and thought-provoking examination of the complex relationship between Islam and the West. The book provides hopeful insights into the mutually enriching yet problematic encounters between the Muslim and Western worlds. A must read for both the specialist and general reader' - Louay Safi PH.D, Executive Director, ISNA Leadership Development Center.



Appleby, R. Scott.  The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999).

Terrorists and peacemakers may grow up in the same community and adhere to the same religious tradition. The killing carried out by one and the reconciliation fostered by the other indicate the range of dramatic and contradictory responses to human suffering by religious actors. Yet religion's ability to inspire violence is intimately related to its equally impressive power as a force for peace, especially in the growing number of conflicts around the world that involve religious claims and religiously inspired combatants. This book explains what religious terrorists and religious peacemakers share in common, what causes them to take different paths in fighting injustice, and how a deeper understanding of religious extremism can and must be integrated more effectively into our thinking about tribal, regional, and international conflict.



Appleby, R. Scott, ed. Spokesmen for the Despised: Fundamentalist Leaders of the Middle East (University of Chicago Press; First paper edition, 1996).

Behind the bloody acts of terrorism, the mobs chanting with upraised fists, the backroom and front-page politics in the Middle East, stand powerful religious leaders cloaked in mystery and fanaticism. Spokesmen for the Despised lifts the veils, presenting eight vivid portraits of fundamentalist leaders who have turned their charismatic religious authority to powerful political ends.

The deeds of the men profiled in this book make history and headlines, whether through the anti-American rhetoric of the late Iranian revolutionary, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; the violent acts of Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shi'ite movement headed by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah; or the group of Jewish rabbis who appear to have inspired the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. No one better exemplifies this history-making than Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, who from his Israeli jail cell continues to influence Hamas's efforts to eliminate both Israel and the PLO. Also featured are the spiritual guides of the radical Jewish settler movement Gush Emunim, the Sudanese sponsor of "the Islamic Awakening," the preacher who inflamed Upper Egypt, and the ideological leader of the Zionist International Christian Embassy.

These riveting biographies include interviews with true believers and bitter opponents, and in several cases with the subjects themselves, carefully placing the lives of these charismatic leaders in the contexts of their religious traditions and their varied social, political, and religious settings. Spokesmen for the Despised is an essential volume for anyone wishing to understand the relationship between religion and politics in the Middle East.

Contributors: Ziad Abu Amr, Gideon Aran, Yaakov Ariel, Daniel Brumberg, Patrick D. Gaffney, Samuel Heilman, Martin Kramer, and Judith Miller



Armstrong, Karen.  The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (Ballantine Books, 2001).

In our supposedly secular age governed by reason and technology, fundamentalism has emerged as an overwhelming force in every major world religion. Why? This is the fascinating, disturbing question that bestselling author Karen Armstrong addresses in her brilliant new book The Battle for God. Writing with the broad perspective and deep understanding of human spirituality that won huge audiences for A History of God, Armstrong illuminates the spread of militant piety as a phenomenon peculiar to our moment in history.

Contrary to popular belief, fundamentalism is not a throwback to some ancient form of religion but rather a response to the spiritual crisis of the modern world. As Armstrong argues, the collapse of a piety rooted in myth and cult during the Renaissance forced people of faith to grasp for new ways of being religious--and fundamentalism was born. Armstrong focuses here on three fundamentalist movements: Protestant fundamentalism in America, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, and Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt and Iran--exploring how each has developed its own unique way of combating the assaults of modernity.

Blending history, sociology, and spirituality, The Battle for God is a compelling and compassionate study of a radical form of religious expression that is critically shaping the course of world history.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



*Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History (Modern Library, 2002).

No religion in the modern world is as feared and misunderstood as Islam. It haunts the popular imagination as an extreme faith that promotes terrorism, authoritarian government, female oppression, and civil war. In a vital revision of this narrow view of Islam and a distillation of years of thinking and writing about the subject, Karen Armstrong’s short history demonstrates that the world’s fastest-growing faith is a much more complex phenomenon than its modern fundamentalist strain might suggest.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



*Armstrong, Karen.  Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths (Ballantine Book, 1997).

Venerated for millennia by three faiths, torn by irreconcilable conflict, conquered, rebuilt, and mourned for again and again, Jerusalem is a sacred city whose very sacredness has engendered terrible tragedy. In this fascinating volume, Karen Armstrong, author of the highly praised A History of God, traces the history of how Jews, Christians, and Muslims have all laid claim to Jerusalem as their holy place, and how three radically different concepts of holiness have shaped and scarred the city for thousands of years.

Armstrong unfolds a complex story of spiritual upheaval and political transformation--from King David's capital to an administrative outpost of the Roman Empire, from the cosmopolitan city sanctified by Christ to the spiritual center conquered and glorified by Muslims, from the gleaming prize of European Crusaders to the bullet-ridden symbol of the present-day Arab-Israeli conflict.



*Aslan, Reza.  How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror (Random House, 2009).

A cosmic war is a religious war. It is a battle not between armies or nations, but between the forces of good and evil, a war in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. 

The hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting a cosmic war. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, by infusing the United States War on Terror with the same kind of religiously polarizing rhetoric and Manichean worldview, is also fighting a cosmic war–a war that can’t be won. 

How to Win a Cosmic War is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world, and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Surveying the global scene from Israel to Iraq and from New York to the Netherlands, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. At a time when religion and politics are increasingly sharing the same vocabulary and functioning in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world–in particular, the War on Terror–of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie behind the cosmic impulse. 

How do you win a cosmic war? By refusing to fight in one.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Aslan, Reza.  No God But God: the Origins, Evolution, and the Future of Islam (Random House Trade Paperback; Updated edition, 2011).

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No God but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Avishai, Bernard.  The Tragedy of Zionism: Revolution and Democracy in the Land of Israel (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1985).

Avishai is a young American who, like many of his generation, has had life-long interest and personal involvement in Israel. Like many others, he tried to settle in Israel, but for a variety of reasons could not adjust to life there. He has been writing about current affairs in Israel and the Middle East for a number of years and this volume represents the culmination of his assessments to date. The first part is a brief summary of the history of Zionism leading to the establishment of the State of Israel. The second part deals with the period after 1948 and includes both previous observations by the author as well as fresh insights, many critical of Israeli policy. The conclusions in this book clearly will not please all readers, which is perhaps exactly why it should be read. (Jehuda Reinharz, Near Eastern & Judaic Studies Department, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA)



Barasch, Marc Ian. The Compassionate Life: Walking the Path of Kindness (Berett-Koehler Publishers; Second edition, 2009).

How can compassion, a trait hardwired into our nervous system and waiting to be awakened, transform our lives and the world at large? Marc Barasch provides up-to-the-minute research to timeless spiritual truths, and weaves a stirring, unforgettable story of the search for kindness in a world that clearly needs it. With unfailing curiosity, Barasch poses vital questions: What can we learn from exceptionally empathetic people? Can we increase our compassion quotient with practice? What if the great driving force of our evolution were actually "survival of the kindest?" He comes up with challenging, ultimately inspiring answers. With encounters as diverse as observations of compassion amongst bonobo chimpanzees, to the story of a man who forgives his daughters killer, to teenage Palestinian and Israeli girls trying to wage peace, Barasch blends hard science and popular culture with his own hip, engaging narrative style to create a smart, provocative argument that a simple shift in consciousness changes pretty much everything.



*Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, 2001).

A new afterword to this edition, "The Duty to Remember-But What?" tackles difficult issues of guilt and innocence on the individual and societal levels. Zygmunt Bauman explores the silences found in debates about the Holocaust, and asks what the historical facts of the Holocaust tell us about the hidden capacities of present-day life. He finds great danger in such phenomena as the seductiveness of martyrdom; going to extremes in the name of safety; the insidious effects of tragic memory; and efficient, "scientific" implementation of the death penalty. Bauman writes, "Once the problem of the guilt of the Holocaust perpetrators has been by and large settled . . . the one big remaining question is the innocence of all the rest-not the least the innocence of ourselves."Among the conditions that made the mass extermination of the Holocaust possible, according to Bauman, the most decisive factor was modernity itself. Bauman's provocative interpretation counters the tendency to reduce the Holocaust to an episode in Jewish history, or to one that cannot be repeated in the West precisely because of the progressive triumph of modern civilization. He demonstrates, rather, that we must understand the events of the Holocaust as deeply rooted in the very nature of modern society and in the central categories of modern social thought.



Bui, Hong & Bui, Hum. CaoDai, A Realizable Path to Light (2020).

In the book “CaoDai, a Realizable Path to Light”, the authors share their enlightened journey from the discovery of the inner sublime spiritual origin, common to all of us, in the Spiritual spark that we all receive from the Divine Spirit, to the experience of oneness with the Divine. This evolvement occurs with a concurrent practice of the triple-fold path of service, self-cultivation, and meditation, and inasmuch as possible, a healthy vegetarian diet.The book offers a comprehensive view of CaoDai, a faith of inclusion, its founding, and theology. Eastern and Western philosophies, as well as views on free will and determinism, principles of oneness, love, and the Golden Rule, and tools for self- cultivation are all explored. Notice how visible physical and mystical spiritual elements intertwine to form the special hallmarks of this faith.



Choueiri, Youssef M.  Islamic Fundamentalism (Continuum; Third edition, 2010).

The world of Islamic fundamentalism has become, more or less, a daily preoccupation, not only of journalists and scholars, but, more importantly, of almost all governments and security services across the globe. This book presents a striking analysis of how and why Islamism and Jihadism have become such potent contemporary political forces, shedding new light on a much-misunderstood situation. This revised edition offers an analytical survey of the modern and contemporary Islamist movements by linking their emergence and potency to the historical background of Muslim societies and their encounter with Western globalism. Thus, it also locates the advent of new Islamist espousals of democratic governance. It includes an entirely new section dealing with post-1997 aspects, a section on al-Qa'ida and the aftermath of 9/11, as well as a discussion of the global reach of Islamism. This comprehensive volume explores the advent of a new wave of Islamism and its manifestations in Western countries, concluding with an overall evaluation of the future prospects of Islamism and alternative Western policies ranging from direct confrontation to political dialogue.



Dawley, Caroline. Shaman's Drum (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018).

Shaman’s Drum is a Spiritual Guide bringing a timely message of an ancient healing practice for our contemporary world. Caroline shares real stories of her clients Shamanic Healing journeys; healing the root cause of trauma and the resulting anxiety and illness caused when emotions are repressed. During shamanic healing, Caroline works with vision and vibrational energy healing to clear and realign your energy centers and your connection to the Earth. While listening to the sound of the drum, you journey beyond ordinary reality inside yourself, where you find the answers to your life. You are empowered as you experience transformation; becoming one with Source, you receive life force energy. Shamanism is a pathway to learn to work with the Oneness of Life; working within sacred space, with your Spirit guides, Spirit Animals, and all our relations, you learn an expansive worldview. When you face the darkness and go through it, you will find the Light and freedom on the other side. Shamanism is a journey to heal yourself and find your passion for life and share it with the world. Shamanism is based on experience, a calling received through Vision and Initiation that requires commitment, willingness to answer the call, and a passion to help heal suffering humanity.



Delong-Bas, Natana J.  Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad (Oxford University Press, USA, 2008).

Until September 11, 2001 few Westerners had ever heard of "Wahhabism." Now most of us recognize the word as describing an austere and puritanical type of Islam, mentioned frequently in connection with Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia and often named as the inspiration behind the 9/11 terror attacks. The word "Wahhabi" stems from the name of the founder of this system of thought, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1702-1791), companion and religious adviser to Muhammad Ibn Saud, founder of the House of Saud. In this book Natana DeLong-Bas offers an in-depth study of the written works of al-Wahhab. She focuses on four areas: theology, legal theory, proselytizing through education and jihad, and law on women. Through a close reading of al-Wahhab's texts she demonstrates that many aspects sof 20th- and 21st-century Wahhabi extremism do not have their origins in his writings. Examples of this extremism include the emphasis on jihad, martyrdom and militancy, and misogyny. The strict division of the world into dar al-Islam and dar al-kufr, according to which only Wahhabi adherents are considered to be true Muslims and all others are non-Muslims who must be fought, is entirely absent from al-Wahhab's work. Instead, argues DeLong-Bas, all of these themes were only added to Wahhabi teachings in the 19th century following armed engagement with the Ottoman Empire. DeLong-Bas's study fills an enormous gap in the literature about Wahhabism by returning to the original writings of the founder of the movement. She debunks the common journalistic portrayal of Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab as an illiterate, rural bumpkin with no scholarly formation. Her revisionist reading of al-Wahhab's thought will be controversial but impossible to ignore. The book will be essential reading for students and scholars of Islam as well as for those interested in the background of this dangerous modern ideology.



Dudney, B.C. Equal Rights from God: The Equalitarian Age (Golden Rule Publishing, Tennessee, 2015).

The need of increasing the People's Power in an Equaltarian Age because of the dangers we all face from the inequality of 2% in control of up to 90% of our worlds economy and resources, that pits nations against nations in profit making conflicts, creating endless wars, nuclear dangers, and causing up to a third of the poorest to live on one meal or less starvation diets. Children being forced into work place at such an early age as young as 5-6 years old, many not learning to read or write! An urgency to work together in small Golden Rule Groups of friends, networking with other groups in communities worldwide to end the increasing inequality, work and wage squeezes, for the majority of all workers. Personal experiences of Witnessing for Equal Rights and ending discrimination, even at the Vatican for the female half to balance our human natures, fulfils the Universal Golden Rule, found in all the major religions and hearts of good people seeking a more secure world for all.



Esposito, John. The Future of Islam (Oxford University Press, USA, 2013).

John L. Esposito is one of America's leading authorities on Islam. Now, in this brilliant portrait of Islam today--and tomorrow--he draws on a lifetime of thought and research to sweep away the negative stereotypes and provide an accurate, richly nuanced, and revelatory account of the fastest growing religion in the world. 

Here Esposito explores the major questions and issues that face Islam in the 21st century and that will deeply affect global politics. Are Islam and the West locked in a deadly clash of civilizations? Is Islam compatible with democracy and human rights? Will religious fundamentalism block the development of modern societies in the Islamic world? Will Islam overwhelm the Western societies in which so many Muslim immigrants now reside? Will Europe become Eurabia or will the Muslims assimilate? Which Muslim thinkers will be most influential in the years to come? To answer this last question he introduces the reader to a new generation of Muslim thinkers--Tariq Ramadan, Timothy Winter, Mustafa Ceric, Amina Wadud, and others--a diverse collection of Muslim men and women, both the "Martin Luthers" and the "Billy Grahams" of Islam. We meet religious leaders who condemn suicide bombing and who see the killing of unarmed men, women, and children as "worse than murder," who preach toleration and pluralism, who advocate for women's rights. The book often underscores the unexpected similarities between the Islamic world and the West and at times turns the mirror on the US, revealing how we appear to Muslims, all to highlight the crucial point that there is nothing exceptional about the Muslim faith. 

Recent decades have brought extraordinary changes in the Muslim world, and in addressing all of these issues, Esposito paints a complex picture of Islam in all its diversity--a picture of urgent importance as we face the challenges of the coming century.



Esposito, John. Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (Oxford University Press, USA, 2003).

The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left us stunned, angry, and uncomprehending. As it became clear that these horrifying acts had been committed in the name of religion, the media, the government, and ordinary citizens alike sought answers to questions about Islam and its adherents.

In this level-headed and authoritative book, John L. Esposito, one of the world's most respected scholars of political Islam, provides answers. He clearly and carefully explains the teachings of Islam--the Quran, the example of the Prophet, Islamic law--about jihad or holy war, the use of violence, and terrorism. He chronicles the rise of extremist groups and examines their frightening worldview and tactics. Being anti-American (and anti-European), he shows, is a broad-based phenomenon that cuts across Arab and Muslim societies. It is not just driven by religious zealotry, but by frustration and anger at U.S. policy. It is vital to understand, however, that the vast majority of Muslims are appalled by the acts of violence committed in the name of their faith. It is essential that we distinguish between the religion of Islam and the actions of extremists like Osama bin Laden, who hijack Islamic discourse and belief to justify their acts of terrorism. This brief, clear-sighted book reflects twenty years of study, reflection, and experience on the part of a scholar who is equally respected in the West and in the Muslim world. It will prove to be the best single guide to the urgent questions that have recently forced themselves on the attention of the entire world.



Esposito, John, ed. Voices of Resurgent Islam (Oxford University Press, USA, 1983).

Of all of the books which have recently appeared on modern Islam...few come close to being as insightful, worthwhile, and just plain enjoyable to read as this collection of essays.

~ Religious Studies and Theology

An excellent anthology of biographical articles portraying the lives and works of 20th century and contemporary leaders in Islamic revival and resurgence.

~ Henry T. Littlejohn, Seattle Pacific University

Very well conceived. Not only does it give the views of the leaders of Islamic resurgence in various modern Muslim states, but also Muslim and Western responses....A thought-provoking collection of essays by eminent scholars which will be very useful to students of modern trends in Islamic thought.

~ Abbas Hamdani, University of Wisconsin

Excellent examination of the phenomenon of 'resurgent, militant, or fundamentalist' Islam by some seventeen authors....Should be of interest to students of Islamic culture and religion, as well as to those concerned with 'political' Islam's international impact.

~ Ludwig W. Adameo, University of Arizona



*Esposito, John, with Dahlia Mogahed. Who Speaks for Islam?  What a Billion Muslims Really Think, Based on the World’s Gallup Poll (Gallup Press, 2008).

In a post-9/11 world, many Americans conflate the mainstream Muslim majority with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority. But what do the world’s Muslims think about the West, or about democracy, or about extremism itself? Who Speaks for Islam? spotlights this silenced majority. The book is the product of a mammoth six-year study in which the Gallup Organization conducted tens of thousands of hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations — urban and rural, young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate. It asks the questions everyone is curious about: Why is the Muslim world so anti-American? Who are the extremists? Is democracy something Muslims really want? What do Muslim women want? The answers to these and other pertinent, provocative questions are provided not by experts, extremists, or talking heads, but by empirical evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims.



Ferguson, Duncan S. Lovescapes. Mapping the Geography of Love: An Invitation to the Love-Centered Life (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013).

Lovescapes introduces the reader to the various meanings and manifestations of love and its many cognates such as compassion, caring, altruism, empathy, and forgiveness. It addresses how love and compassion have been understood in history and the religions of the world. It goes on to explore the ways that our environments and heredity influence our capacity to love and suggests ways to cultivate love and compassion in one's life. The book shows how the values of love and compassion are integral to finding humane solutions to the daunting problems we face as individuals, as a human family, and as an earth community—a world in crisis.
Lovescapes has the following features:

  • Describing how love is the essence of the divine, and therefore the ground of reality
  • Understanding the meaning of love and its place in our lives
  • Learning how love and compassion have been understood across history, culture, and tradition
  • Gaining insight about how to increase our capacity to love and show compassion
  • Discerning how love and compassion can be applied in all aspects of our lives, in the regions where we live, and in our global setting.

Read an excerpt from Lovescapes, Mapping the Geography of Love in the Compassion Reader.


IMG-6803Fischer, Michael J.  Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003).

Unlike much of the instant analysis that appeared at the time of the Iranian revolution, Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution is based upon extensive fieldwork carried out in Iran. Michael M. J. Fischer draws upon his rich experience with the mullahs and their students in the holy city of Qum, composing a picture of Iranian society from the inside—the lives of ordinary people, the way that each class interprets Islam, and the role of religion and religious education in the culture. Fischer’s book, with its new introduction updating arguments for the post-Revolutionary period, brings a dynamic view of a society undergoing metamorphosis, which remains fundamental to understanding Iranian society in the early twenty-first century.



Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War (Oxford University Press; Third edition, 2001).

Pity the Nation ranks among the classic accounts of war in our time, both as historical document and as an eyewitness testament to human savagery. Written by one of Britain's foremost journalists, this remarkable book combines political analysis and war reporting in an unprecedented way: it is an epic account of the Lebanon conflict by an author who has personally witnessed the carnage of Beirut for over a decade. Fisk's book recounts the details of a terrible war but it also tells a story of betrayal and illusion, of Western blindness that had led inevitably to political and military catastrophe. Updated and revised, Fisk's book gives us a further insight into this troubled part of the world.

Robert Fisk is one of the outstanding reporters of this generation. As a war correspondent he is unrivaled.

~ Edward Mortimer, Financial Times


IMG-6804 Friedman, Robert J.  Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement (Random House, 1992).

A journalist reports on his travels to the West Bank, where he had witnessed the bitter conflicts, political ramifications, and human dynamics that seem to make peace an impossible proposition for the Middle East.



Gole, Nilufa.  The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling (University of Michigan Press, 1997).

This book by prominent Turkish scholar Nilüfer Göle examines the complex relationships among modernity, religion, and gender relations in the Middle East. Her focus is on the factors that influence young women pursuing university educations in Turkey to adopt seemingly fundamentalist Islamist traditions, such as veiling, and the complex web of meanings attributed to these gender-separating practices. Veiling, a politicized practice that conceptually forces people to choose between the "modern" and the "backward," provides an insightful way of looking at the contemporary Islam-West conflict, shedding light on the recent rise of Islamist fundamentalism in many countries and providing insight into what is a more complex phenomenon than is commonly portrayed in accounts by Western journalists.

Göle's sociological approach, employing a number of personal interviews, allows for both a detailed case study of these young Turkish women who are turning to the tenets of fundamental Islamist gender codes, and for a broader critique of Eurocentrism and the academic literature regarding the construction of meaning. Both perspectives serve as a springboard for the launching of theoretical innovations into feminist, religious, cultural, and area studies.

A timely book, whose publication in English will contribute to a variety of scholarly debates. It promises to be provocative and widely read among scholars interested in issues of modernism and identity, women's social movements, the status of women in Islamic societies, and the broader issues of public versus private spheres.

~ Nilüfer Isvan, State University of New York, Stony Brook



Goldman, Caren. Healing Words for the Body, Mind, and Spirit (MOREHOUSE PUBLISHING (2009)

Easy to use in a variety of ways, Caren Goldman’s acclaimed book HEALING WORDS FOR THE BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT: 101 WORDS TO INSPIRE AND AFFIRM is complementary holistic “medicine" that has a history of proven efficacy for people of all faiths or none whatsoever on their journeys to physical, emotional and spiritual healing. 

In 2011, her book RESTORING LIFE'S MISSING PIECES: THE SPIRITUAL POWER OF REUNITING WITH PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS AND SELF (Skylight Paths Publishing), was honored as a "Best Spiritual Book” of that year.  Most recently, her newest book for Prevention magazine ––THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BREAST CANCER (Rodale Press) –– was named an “excellent choice” by Library Journal.

For over 35 years, hundreds of Caren's articles exploring holistic paths to spiritual, psychological and physical healing have appeared in national publications as well as regional magazines and major metropolitan daily newspapers. In his praise for RESTORING LIFE'S MISSING PIECES, Thomas Moore, bestselling author of Care of the Soul, wrote: "I've been reading Caren Goldman for many years and consider her one of the very best writers in the spiritual area."

HEALING WORDS was written in 2000 after Caren was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.  Since its publication, she has donated all her royalties to cancer causes. Additionally, she is also the Jewish co-author of FINDING JESUS, DISCOVERING SELF and ACROSS THE THRESHOLD INTO THE QUESTIONS (Morehouse Publishing)  –two acclaimed, experiential books on Jesus of Nazareth.

Caren is a co-founder of the St. Augustine Initiative for Compassion which led a successful campaign for the nation’s oldest city to become the first Compassionate City in Florida and the 20th in the world.  She is also a content expert for, and a Bridgebuilder conflict resolution consultant to congregations of all denominations and non-profit organizations.

For Healing Words:

"In HEALING WORDS, Caren Goldman shows us how to find the profound healing hidden in words that we use every day. A wise and helpful book, based on human experience and transparent to eternal light. In a word: WONDERFUL!” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings

"Words create images, which can generate healing effects throughout the body. These effects are too powerful to be left to chance. Caren Goldman gives us a tool we can purposefully use for the healing of body, mind, and spirit. She is an eloquent, compassionate, and skilled guide who has been there.” ~ Larry Dossey, MD, best selling author of Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine and One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters

For Restoring Life's Missing Pieces:

"With this book on re-union Caren Goldman has surpassed her own high standards. It's a joy to read for sheer style and covers a very important topic inside and out. I'm happy to say that it's a book about the deepest part of the soul.  I'm telling you, you won't regret putting this book on the top of your nightstand pile." – Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul 

“This unusual and creative work is designed for those who are deeply involved in the social media; those feel attached to people, places, and things from the past; and those who are keen on reunions of all types.  …Caren Goldman makes a good case for doing the inner work necessary to transform our lives through the spiritual practices of remembering and re-connecting with all that is meaningful in our lives and experiences.” – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice.

"Restoring Life's Missing Pieces is a powerful book about reunion with ourself, family, community, and the earth. Caren Goldman is a brilliant story-teller. You can sink into her words and allow them to point the way back to yourself in order to remember and retrieve crucial missing pieces of your life. This is an important book as we all search for meaning and how to heal the wounds that come from living in a modern day world." – Sandra Ingerman, MA author of Soul Retrieval and How to Thrive in Changing Times.



Gopin, Marc.  Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence, and Peace-making (Oxford University Press, USA, 2002).

Recent years have seen a meteoric rise in the power and importance of organized religion in many parts of the world. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in violence perpetrated in the name of religion. While much has been written on the relationship between violence and religious militancy, history shows that religious people have also played a critical role in peacemaking within numerous cultures. In the new century, will religion bring upon further catastrophes? Or will it provide human civilization with methods of care, healing, and the creation of peaceful and just societies?

In this groundbreaking book, Marc Gopin integrates the study of religion with the study of conflict resolution. He argues that religion can play a critical role in constructing a global community of shared moral commitments and vision--a community that can limit conflict to its nonviolent, constructive variety. If we examine religious myths and moral traditions, Gopin argues, we can understand why and when religious people come to violence, and why and when they become staunch peacemakers. He shows that it is the conservative expression of most religious traditions that presents the largest challenge in terms of peace and conflict. Gopin considers ways to construct traditional paradigms that are committed to peacemaking on a deep level and offers such a paradigm for the case of Judaism. Throughout, Gopin emphasizes that developing the potential of the world's religions for coping with conflict demands a conscious process on the part of peacemakers and theologians. His innovative and carefully argued study also offers a broad set of recommendations for policy planners both inside and outside of government.



*Gopin, Nilufa. Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East (Oxford University Press, USA, 2005).

The Intifada of 2000-2001 has demonstrated the end of an era of diplomacy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The style of peacemaking of the Olso Accords has been called into question by the facts on the ground. Elite forms of peacemaking that do not embrace the basic needs of average people on all sides are bound to fail.

The complete neglect of deeper cultural and religious systems in the peace process is now apparent, as is the role that this neglect has played in the failure of the process. Building on his earlier book,Between Eden and Armageddon, Gopin provides a detailed blueprint of how the religious traditions in question can become a principal asset in the search for peace and justice. He demonstrates how religious people can be the critical missing link in peacemaking, and how the incorporation of their values and symbols can unleash a new dynamic that directly addresses basic issues of ethics, justice, and peace.
Gopin's analysis of the theoretical, theological, and political planes shows us what has been achieved thus far, as well as what must be done next in order to ensure effective final settlement negotiations and secure, sovereign, democratic countries for both peoples.



Gorenberg, Gershom. The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of Settlements (Times Books, 2006).

In The Accidental Empire, Gershom Gorenberg examines the strange birth of the settler movement in the ten years following the Six-Day War and finds that it was as much the child of Labor Party socialism as of religious extremism. The giants of Israeli history--Dayan, Meir, Eshkol, Allon--all played major roles in this drama, as did more contemporary figures like Sharon, Rabin, and Peres. Gorenberg also shows how three American presidents turned a blind eye to what was happening in the territories, and reveals their strategic reasons for doing so.

Drawing on newly opened archives and extensive interviews, Gorenberg calls into question much of what we think we know about this issue that continues to haunt the Middle East.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Grass, Karl.  Compassionate Haiku (Karl Grass Publisher, 2013).

Compassion Haiku is a source book of inspiration and practices to develop self-compassion and compassion for others. Created one day at a time over the course of a year, these daily reflections combine the experiential impact of haiku with thoughtful commentary. Through this unique format the reader is encouraged to reflect on and experiment with practical ways to grow their own capacity for compassion.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Gyatso, Tenzin, H. H. the Dalai Lama.  The Universe in a Single Atom (Three Rivers Press, 2006).

Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Niels Bohr, Einstein. Their insights shook our perception of who we are and where we stand in the world, and in their wake have left an uneasy coexistence: science vs. religion, faith vs. empirical inquiry. Which is the keeper of truth? Which is the true path to understanding reality?

After forty years of study with some of the greatest scientific minds, as well as a lifetime of meditative, spiritual, and philosophic study, the Dalai Lama presents a brilliant analysis of why all avenues of inquiry—scientific as well as spiritual—must be pursued in order to arrive at a complete picture of the truth. Through an examination of Darwinism and karma, quantum mechanics and philosophical insight into the nature of reality, neurobiology and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws significant parallels between contemplative and scientific examinations of reality.

This breathtakingly personal examination is a tribute to the Dalai Lama’s teachers—both of science and spirituality. The legacy of this book is a vision of the world in which our different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.



Hawkeye, Timber. Buddhist Boot Camp (HarperOne, 2013).

Buddhism is all about training the mind, and boot camp is an ideal training method for this generation's short attention span. The chapters in this small book can be read in any order, and are simple and easy to understand. Each story, inspirational quote, and teaching offers mindfulness-enhancing techniques that anyone can relate to. You don't need to be a Buddhist to find the Buddha's teachings motivational. As the Dalai Lama says, "Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are."

So whether it's Mother Teresa's acts of charity, Gandhi's perseverance, or your aunt Betty's calm demeanor, as long as you're motivated to be better today than you were yesterday, it doesn't matter who inspires you. Regardless of religion, geographical region, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, flexibility, or vulnerability, if you do good you feel good, and if you do bad you feel bad.

Read an excerpts from Buddhist Boot Camp in the Compassion Reader



Heikal, Mohamed.  Autumn of Fury: The Assassination of Sadat (Random House, 1983).

A caustic account of the career of Anwar Sadat, by Egypt's most eminent journalist (The Road to Ramadan, The Sphinx and the Commissar), which amounts to a justification of his assassination by Muslim fundamentalists in October 1981. Heikal, a confidant of both Nasser and Sadat, broke with the latter in the aftermath of the October 1973 war with Israel; arrested in a mass crackdown on dissenters in September 1981, he spent the last days of Sadat's regime a prisoner. Understandably if regrettably, his story can be read as character assassination: Sadat is depicted as a petty tyrant and puppet of American policy, a master of media politics ignorant of the true interests of his country. The argument's credibility is diminished by Heikal's scapegoating of Sadat for Egypt's costly Yemenite adventures under Nasser and indicting him for not exploiting the Arab ""victory"" in 1973, while ignoring the military and political forces arrayed against him. Heikal scorns Sadat's surest claim against history, his trip to Jerusalem and the ensuing peace between Egypt and Israel, for producing no tangible rewards for Egypt (the restoration of Egyptian sovereignty over the Sinai is relegated to a footnote) and for betraying the Arab cause as well as Egypt's historic role as leader of the Arab world. Still, one cannot dismiss as mere resentment Heikal's description of the new rich class of entrepreneurs created by Sadat's economic policies, and its pervasive corruption; nor can one write off his remarks on Sadat's growing political isolation and its outcome--popular unrest, communal violence, political repression, and the growth of underground anti-regime movements. A more persuasive case against Sadat would analyze why he was alone in the quest for peace, and therefore could not negotiate a broader settlement, and why Egypt's economic problems have defeated both Nasser's socialism and Sadat's free-enterprise policies. Nevertheless, Heikal's book is very readable and, like David Hirst and Irene Beeson's similarly one-sided 1982 biography, reflects a view widespread in the Arab world. (Kirkus)



Herriot, Peter. Warfare a


Hroub, Khaled. Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000).

This book, unique in its thorough documentation and use of primary sources, traces the rise of Hamas and the development of its political ideology with respect to the Palestinian national struggle.



Johnson, James Franklin. Acts of Compassion in Greek Tragic Drama (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)

The ability of human beings to feel compassion or empathy for one another—and express that emotion by offering comfort or assistance—is an important antidote to violence and aggression. In ancient Greece, the epics of Homer and the tragic dramas performed each spring in the Theater of Dionysus offered citizens valuable lessons concerning the necessity and proper application of compassionate action. This book is the first full-length examination of compassion (eleos or oiktos in Greek) as a dramatic theme in ancient Greek literature.



*Karmi, Ghada. In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story (Verso; Second edition, 2009).

Ghada Karmi's acclaimed memoir relates her childhood in Palestine, flight to Britain after the catastrophe, and coming of age in Golders Green, the north London Jewish suburb. A powerful biographical story, In Search of Fatima reflects the author's personal experiences of displacement and loss against a backdrop of the major political events which have shaped conflict in the Middle East. Speaking for the millions of displaced people worldwide who have lived suspended between their old and new countries, fitting into neither, this is an intimate, nuanced exploration of the subtler privations of psychological displacement and loss of identity.



Karmi, Ghada. Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (Pluto Press, 2007).

Two rabbis,visiting Palestine in 1897,observed that the land was like a bride,"beautiful,but married to another man". By which they meant that, if a place was to be found for Israel in Palestein,where would the people of Palestine go? This is a dilemma that Israel has never been able to resolve. No conflict today is more dangerous than that between Israel and the Palestinians. The implications it has for regional and global security cannot be overstated. The peace process as we know it is dead and no solution is in sight. Nor, as this book argues, will that change until everyone involved in finding a solution accepts the real causes of conflict, and its consequences on the ground. Leading writer Ghada Karmi explains in fascinating detail the difficulties Israel's existence created for the Arab world and why the search for a solution has been so elusive. Ultimately,she argues that the conflict will end only once the needs of both Arabs and Israelis are accommodated equally. Her startling conclusions overturn conventional thinking-but they are hard to refute.



Keddie, Nikki R. Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran (Yale University Press, 1981).

A history of Iran focuses on the Shah's rise and fall and the causes of the Iranian revolution.



Keddie, Nikki R., ed.  Religion and Politics in Iran: Shiism from Quietism to Revolution (Yale University Press, 1984).

The experts on Iran, rarely in evidence when the revolution was brewing, are now prominent in explaining what happened and why. This volume by an international group is one of the best in making the connection between religion and politics, showing how Islam has influenced Iranian political life and Iranian revolutions for centuries, and how natural it was that America became the "great Satan" in the eyes of so many Iranians. The book provides, among its other benefits, fascinating sketches of the lives and thought of Islamic leaders from Kashani to Khomeini. (Foreign Affairs)



Kepel, Giles. The Prophet and Pharaoh: Muslim Extremism in Egypt (University of California Press; Second edition, 2003).

Gilles Kepel takes us into the world of the students, professionals, workers, and unemployed who are caught up in the Islamic movements of Egypt. Events that have riveted world attention--the first World Trade Center bombing, assassinations in Beirut, the attempt on the life of the Pope, the assassination of Sadat, and, in a new preface, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001--are illuminated by this penetrating study.



*Keshavarz, Fatemeh.  Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).

In a direct, frank, and intimate exploration of Iranian literature and society, scholar, teacher, and poet Fatemeh Keshavarz challenges popular perceptions of Iran as a society bereft of vitality and joy. Her fresh perspective on present day Iran provides a rare insight into this rich but virtually unknown culture alive with artistic expression.

Keshavarz introduces readers to two modern Iranian women writers whose strong and articulate voices belie the stereotypical perception of Iranian women as voiceless victims in a country of villains. She follows with a lively critique of the best-selling Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which epitomizes what Keshavarz calls the "New Orientalist narrative"—marred by stereotype and prejudice more often tied to current geopolitical conflicts than to an understanding of Iran.

Blending in firsthand glimpses of her own life—from childhood memories in 1960s Shiraz to her present life as a professor in America—Keshavarz paints a portrait of Iran depicting both cultural depth and intellectual complexity. With a scholar's expertise and a poet's hand, she helps amplify the powerful voices of contemporary Iranians and leads readers toward a deeper understanding of the country's past and present.



*Klausen, Jytte. The Cartoons That Shook the World (Yale University Press, 2009).

On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Five months later, thousands of Muslims inundated the newspaper with outpourings of anger and grief by phone, email, and fax; from Asia to Europe Muslims took to the streets in protest. This book is the first comprehensive investigation of the conflict that aroused impassioned debates around the world on freedom of expression, blasphemy, and the nature of modern Islam.
Jytte Klausen interviewed politicians in the Middle East, Muslim leaders in Europe, the Danish editors and cartoonists, and the Danish imam who started the controversy. Following the winding trail of protests across the world, she deconstructs the arguments and motives that drove the escalation of the increasingly globalized conflict. She concludes that the Muslim reaction to the cartoons was not—as was commonly assumed—a spontaneous emotional reaction arising out of the clash of Western and Islamic civilizations. Rather it was orchestrated, first by those with vested interests in elections in Denmark and Egypt, and later by Islamic extremists seeking to destabilize governments in Pakistan, Lebanon, Libya, and Nigeria. Klausen shows how the cartoon crisis was, therefore, ultimately a political conflict rather than a colossal cultural misunderstanding.



Klein, Menachem.  Jerusalem: The Contested City (New York University Press, 2001).

Jerusalem, which means "city of peace," is one of the most bitterly contested territories on earth. Claimed by two peoples and sacred to three faiths, for the last three decades the city has been associated with violent struggle and civil unrest. As the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis reach their conclusion, the final, and most difficult issue is the status of Jerusalem. How and to what extent will these two nations share this city? How will Christians, Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem and around the world redefine their relationship to Jerusalem when the dust settles on the final agreement? Will the Israelis and Palestinians even be able to reach an agreement at all?

Menachem Klein, one of the leading experts on the history and politics of Jerusalem, cuts through the rhetoric on all sides to explain the actual policies of the Israelis and Palestinians toward the city. He describes the "facts on the ground" that make their competing claims so fraught with tension and difficult to reconcile. He shows how Palestinian national institutions have operated clandestinely since the Israelis occupied the eastern half of the city, and how the Israelis have tried to suppress them. Ultimately, he points the way toward a compromise solution but insists that the struggle for power and cultural recognition will likely continue to be a permanent feature of life in this complicated, multi-cultural city.
Kurzman, Charles, ed.  Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook (Oxford University Press, 1998).

Liberal Islam is not a contradiction in terms; it is a thriving tradition and undergoing a revival within the last generation. This anthology presents the work of 32 Muslims who share parallel concerns with Western liberalism. Although the West has largely ignored the liberal tradition within Islam, many of these authors are well-known in their own countries as advocates of democracy and tolerance. Among these are: Abdulkarim Soroush, a leading oppositional figure in Iran; Nurcholish Madjid, a prominent Indonesian intellectual; Mahmud Mohamed Taha, a religious reformer executed by the Sudanese government; and `Ali `Abd al-Raziq, an Egyptian religious scholar whose writings on the separation of church and state have been controversial since the 1920s. In an analytical introduction, editor Charles Kurzman discusses the history of the liberal tradition in Islam and identifies the main currents in liberal Islamic thought.

This collection will be an important resource for scholars and students of Islam, the Middle East, and international affairs, and will also help to redress the imbalance in our perceptions of the Islamic world.



Lawrence, Bruce B.  Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (University of South Carolina Press, 1995).

In Lawrence's assessment, fundamentalists are "the righteous remnant turned vanguard," last-ditch defenders of God, fighting what they perceive to be dangerous modernist values of personal autonomy and relativism. Fundamentalism, asserts this Duke University historian, is a form of ideology rather than a theology, and as such, it is a multicultural and "cross-creedal" outlook common to certain American Protestants, Muslims and right-wing, "quasi-Hasidic" Israeli parties such as Gush Emunim. In the first half of this bold, original study, Lawrence lays the philosophical and historical groundwork for his analysis by discussing Eurocentrism, nationalism and the marginalization of religion. The second half consists of case studies drawn from the three major monotheistic religions. He predicts that, in the long run, fundamentalism will not be able to control public discourse or activity in any major nation-state. (Publisher’s Weekly)



Lincoln, Bruce.  Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion After September 11 (The University of Chicago Press; Second edition, 2006).

It is tempting to regard the perpetrators of the September 11th terrorist attacks as evil incarnate. But their motives, as Bruce Lincoln’s acclaimed Holy Terrors makes clear, were profoundly and intensely religious. Thus what we need after the events of 9/11, Lincoln argues, is greater clarity about what we take religion to be. 

Holy Terrors begins with a gripping dissection of the instruction manual given to each of the 9/11 hijackers. In their evocation of passages from the Quran, we learn how the terrorists justified acts of destruction and mass murder “in the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate.” Lincoln then offers a provocative comparison of President Bush’s October 7, 2001 speech announcing U.S. military action in Afghanistan alongside the videotaped speech released by Osama bin Laden just a few hours later. As Lincoln authoritatively demonstrates, a close analysis of the rhetoric used by leaders as different as George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden—as well as Mohamed Atta and even Jerry Falwell—betrays startling similarities. These commonalities have considerable implications for our understanding of religion and its interrelationships with politics and culture in a postcolonial world, implications that Lincoln draws out with skill and sensitivity. 



Lumbard, Joseph E. B., ed.  Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars (World Wisdom, 2004).

This book offers an analysis byWestern Muslim scholars of the key reasons behind the dangerous breaksown in understanding between Islam and the West.



Lustick, Ian S.  For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Council on Foreign Relations Press; First edition, 1988).

Lustick's analysis of Jewish fundamentalism, spearheaded in action by Gush Emunim and the militant settlers in the occupied territories, shows how much Israel's political scene has changed since 1967. He explains how this movement, with deep roots in Jewish history and messianic insistence on redemption of all of "Eretz Israel," has created what may be insuperable obstacles to a negotiated settlement with the Arabs and a stable democratic future for Israel. The prospect has serious implications for American policy, although American policy may not be able to do much about it.

Book available at:



Malik, Kenan. From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy (Melville House, 2010).

“It would be absurd to think that a book can cause riots,” Salman Rushdie asserted just months before the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. But that’s exactly what happened. In England, protests started just months after the book’ s publication, with Muslim protestors, mainly from immigrant backgrounds, coming by the thousands from the outer suburbs of London and from England’s old industrial centers—places like Bradford, Bolton, and Macclesfield—to denounce Rushdie’s novel as blasphemous and to burn it. In February of 1988, the protests spread to Pakistan, where riots broke out, killing five. That same month, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini called for Rushdie’s assassination, and for the killing of anyone involved with the book’ s publication.

It was this frightening chain of events, Kenan Malik argues in his enlightened personal and political account of the period, that transformed the relationship between Islam and the West: From then on, Islam was a domestic issue for residents of Europe and the United States, a matter of terror and geopolitics that was no longer geographically constrained to the Middle East and South Asia.

Malik investigates the communities from which the anti-Rushdie activists emerged, showing the subtleties of immigrant life in 1980s England. He depicts the growth of the anti-racist and Asian youth movements, and shows how young Britons went from supporting these progressive movements to embracing a conservative strain of Islam. Malik also controversially tackles England’s peculiar strain of “multiculturalism,” arguing that policymakers there failed to integrate Muslim immigrants, which many politicians saw as incompatible with their own “Western values.” It was a perception that led many to appeal to Muslims not as citizens, but as people whose primary loyalty was to their faith and who could be engaged only by their “community leaders.” It was a also policy that encouraged Muslims to view themselves as semi-detached citizens—and that inevitably played into the hands of radical Islamists. 

Twenty years later, the questions raised by the Rushdie affair—Islam’s relationship to the West, the meaning of multiculturalism, the limits of tolerance in a liberal society—have become the defining issues of our time.



Mastnak, Tomaz. Crusading Peace: Christendom, the Muslim World, and Western Political Order (University of California Press; First edition, 2001).

Tomaz Mastnak's provocative analysis of the roots of peacemaking in the Western world elucidates struggles for peace that took place in the high and late Middle Ages. Mastnak traces the ways that eleventh-century peace movements, seeking to end violence among Christians, shaped not only power structures within Christendom but also the relationship of the Western Christian world to the world outside. The unification of Christian society under the banner of "holy peace" precipitated a fundamental division between the Christian and non-Christian worlds, and the postulated peace among Christians led to holy war against non-Christians.



Mclvor, Olivia. Turning Compassion into Action (FairWinds Press; 1 edition, 2013).

McIvor's Turning Compassion into Action urges each of us to craft engaged and meaningful lives. She believes we must each embrace the innate wellspring of compassion within us and impact our world, one action at a time. To actualize compassion, we need to transform our pessimism into optimism; connect to the deeper purpose of our work; expand our communities to create more belonging; and be intentionally present with ourselves and others.

This book is a call to action to bring more compassion to the forefront of our lives, our work, and our world. We are all "ordinary people" -brave men and women doing heroic acts of kindness and compassion, every day in the simplest of ways. This book is a call for action to bring more compassion to the forefront of your life, your work and your world. You will be asked provocative questions, explore meaningful answers and be moved to take affirmative action. Whether you are a leader committed to exceptional service, a parent proudly wading through the teen years, a passionate volunteer, or anyone who believes that actively giving of yourself changes the world...then this book is for you. Olivia McIvor asks: What does compassion mean to you? How is compassion an alive presence in your life? Do you create more joy for others? In what ways are you a compassionate consumer? How do you create a sense of belonging in your community? Do you bring your whole self to work?

 In her first book, The Business of Kindness: Creating Work Environments Where People Thrive, Olivia McIvor wrestled with the consequences of a business world that too often stifles genuine kindness, and explores the vital need to create respectful, engaged workplaces. Her second book, Four Generations One Workplace: Sharing in the Information Age, harvested the experience and wisdom of each generation and provides practical tools for collaboration and knowledge transfer. Compassion is the bedrock of a healthy society. 



*Mernissi, Fatima. Women and Islam: An Historical and Theological Inquiry (Woman Unlimited, 2004).

In this book the author, who is both a feminist and a Muslim, aims to shed light on the status of women in Islam by examining and reassessing the literary sources as far back as 7th century Islam. She portrays how, far from being the oppressor of women that his detractors have claimed, the Prophet upheld the equality of all true believers. Here is a bold reconciliation of feminism with the Prophet's thoughts and beliefs.



Milton-Edwards, Beverley. Islamic Politics in Palestine (I.B. Tauris, 1999).

Palestinian Islamists are regularly in the headlines, mainly for their violent attempts to undermine the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Who are these people, what motivates them and how did they become such a powerful force? Drawing on interviews with Palestinian and Jordanian Islamists, primary sources and historical records, this work provides some answers, and challenges prevailing theories of Islamic resurgence. The book argues that the contemporary revival of Islamic politics occurred much later in Palestine than in other countries of the Middle East and explores the reason for this lag. It also traces Israel's initial encouragement of political Islam as a rival force to the PLO and its subsequent growth into a movement that now defies all Israeli attempts to crush it and presents a formidable challenge to the PLO's claim to determine the future of the Palestinian people.



*Mohsin, Hamid.  The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting . . .
Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite "valuation" firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his infatuation with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



Momen, Moojan. An Introduction to Shi’i Islam (Yale University Press, 1987).

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 and recent events in Lebanon have greatly increased Western interest in the Shi'i branch of Islam, which is much less known than Sunni Islam. This volume provides a balanced and comprehensive treatment of a complex religious movement that has flourished since Islam's earliest days. Although it attempts no new or sophisticated interpretations, specialist and nonspecialist alike will benefit from its lucid exposition of both elite and popular Shi'ism. Especially valuable is the way the work presents modern critical scholarship on Shi'i history alongside the orthodox history, which still has great influence on the religion's self-understanding. A brief but useful concluding account locates the Iranian Revolution and Imam Khomeini within the framework of Iranian Shi'ism. Mel Piehl, History Dept., Valparaiso University, IN (Library Journal)



*Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran (Oneworld Publications; Second edition, 2008).

Drawn from the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses, Roy Mottahedeh's gripping account of Islam and Politics in revolutionary Iran is widely regarded as one of the best records of that turbulent time ever written.

The true story of a young mullah, his life in the sacred shrine city of Qom, and the dramatic events of the 1979 Revolution, this enthralling account paints a vivid picture of contemporary Iran, while providing a panoramic survey of Muslim, Shi'ite and Persian culture from the Middle Ages to the current day. From the ancient time of Zoroaster to the world of Khomeini, this sweeping saga interweaves biography with history, politics and religion to offer new levels of understanding into Iran’s past, present and future.
Written with feeling, sympathy and clarity, this revised edition includes a new chronology detailing events in Iran from the revolution right up to the present day and Ahmadinejad’s controversial regime.



Muzaffar, Chandra. Global Ethic or Global Hegemony?  Reflections on Religion, Human Dignity and Civilizational Interaction (Asean Academic Private Ltd., 2005).

This book addresses one of the most critical questions facing humanity today: Is global peace possible without overcoming the challenge of global hegemony? Global hegemony or global dominance and control by an elite class is one of the major direct and indirect causes of contemporary wars and conflicts.u
Hegemony explains the war in Iraq and the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is also responsible for the widening gap between the global rich and the global poor which in turn has given rise to global tensions.

Even the fears of global cultural and intellectual imperialism are related to global hegemony. As long as there is global hegemony, the author argues, a just world in which humanity is held together by shared universal values, principles and standards will remain a mere dream. In other words, global hegemony negates a global ethic.



Nasr, Vali. Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power (Oxford University Press, 2001).

Islamization is commonly seen as the work of Islamist movements who have forced their ideology on ruling regimes and other hapless social actors. There is little doubt that ruling regimes and disparate social and political actors alike are pushed in the direction of Islamic politics by Islamist forces. However, Islamist activism and its revolutionary and utopian rhetoric only partly explain this trend. Here, Nasr argues that the state itself plays a key role in embedding Islam in the politics of Muslim countries. Focusing on Malaysia and Pakistan, Nasr argues that the turn to Islam is a facet of the state's drive to establish hegemony over society and expand its powers and control.



*Nasr, Vali. The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future (W. W. Norton and Company, 2007).

Profiled on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Iranian-born scholar Vali Nasr has become one of America's leading commentators on current events in the Middle East, admired and welcomed by both media and government for his "concise and coherent" analysis (Wall Street Journal). In this "smart, clear and timely" book (Washington Post), Nasr brilliantly dissects the political and theological antagonisms within Islam. He provides a unique and objective understanding of the 1,400-year bitter struggle between Shias and Sunnis, and sheds crucial light on its modern-day consequences—from the nuclear posturing of Iran's President Ahmadinejad to the recent U.S.-enabled shift toward Shia power in Iraq and Hezbollah's continued dominance in Lebanon. The paperback edition features a new foreword for 2007.



Nasr, Vali. The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution: The Jama’at-Islamic Revolution: The Jama’at-Islami of Pakistan (University of California Press, 1994).

In this groundbreaking study, Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr examines the origins, historical development, and political strategies of one of the oldest and most influential Islamic revival movements, the Jama'at-i Islami of Pakistan. He focuses on the inherent tension between the movement's idealized vision of the nation as a holy community based in Islamic law and its political agenda of socioeconomic change for Pakistani society.

Nasr's work goes beyond the exploration of a single party to examine the diverse sociopolitical roots of contemporary Islamic revivalism, challenging many of the standard interpretations about political expressions of Islam.



Noll, Mark A., ed.  Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1982 (Oxford University Press USA; Second edition, 2007).

How do religion and politics interact in America? How has that relationship changed over time? Why have American religious and political thought sometimes developed along a parallel course while at other times they have moved in opposite directions? These are among the many important and fascinating questions addressed in this volume. Originally published in 1990 as Religion and American Politics: From The Colonial Period to the 1980s (4921 paperback copies sold), this book offers the first comprehensive survey of the relationship between religion and politics in America. It features a stellar lineup of scholars, including Richard Carwardine, Nathan Hatch, Daniel Walker Howe, George Marsden, Martin Marty, Harry Stout, John Wilson, Robert Wuthnow, and Bertram Wyatt-Brown. Since its publication, the influence of religion on American politics--and, therefore, interest in the topic--has grown exponentially. For this new edition, Mark Noll and new co-editor Luke Harlow offer a completely new introduction, and also commission several new pieces and eliminate several that are now out of date. The resulting book offers a historically-grounded approach to one of the most divisive issues of our time, and serves a wide variety of courses in religious studies, history, and politics.



Oord, Thomas Jay. The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence (IVPress Nov 2015).

Rarely does a new theological position emerge to account well for life in the world, including not only goodness and beauty but also tragedy and randomness. Drawing from Scripture, science, philosophy and various theological traditions, Thomas Jay Oord offers a novel theology of providence—essential kenosis—that emphasizes God's inherently noncoercive love in relation to creation. The Uncontrolling Love of God provides a clear and powerful response to one of the perennial challenges to Christian faith.

Read more here.
Watch the Video for The Uncontrolling Love of God here.



*Oz, Amos, translated by Maurice Goldberg-Bartura. In the Land of Israel (Mariner Books, 1993).

Oz traveled throughout Israel and the West Bank in the 1980s and spoke with many people about the past, present, and future of his country. What he found is memorably set down here.



Oz, Amos, translated by Nicholas de Lange.  My Michael (Mariner Books, 2005).

One of Amos Oz's earliest and most famous novels, My Michael created a sensation upon its initial publication in 1968 and established Oz as a writer of international acclaim. Like all great books, it has an enduring power to surprise and mesmerize.

Set in 1950s Jerusalem, My Michael tells the story of a remote and intense woman named Hannah Gonen and her marriage to a decent but unremarkable man named Michael. As the years pass and Hannah's tempestuous fantasy life encroaches upon reality, she feels increasingly estranged from him and the marriage gradually disintegrates.

Read an excerpt from this book in the Compassion Reader.



*Ramadan, Tariq. What I Believe (Oxford University Press, USA, 2009).

Tariq Ramadan is very much a public figure, named one of Time magazine's most important innovators of the twenty-first century. He is among the leading Islamic thinkers in the West, with a large following around the world. But he has also been a lightning rod for controversy. Indeed, in 2004, Ramadan was prevented from entering the U.S. by the Bush administration and despite two appeals, supported by organizations like the American Academy of Religion and the ACLU, he was barred from the country until spring of 2010, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally lifted the ban. 

In What I Believe, Ramadan attempts to set the record straight, laying out the basic ideas he stands for in clear and accessible prose. He describes the book as a work of clarification, directed at ordinary citizens, politicians, journalists, and others who are curious (or skeptical) about his positions. Aware that that he is dealing with emotional issues, Ramadan tries to get past the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding to speak directly, from the heart, to his Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike. In particular, he calls on Western Muslims to escape the mental, social, cultural, and religious ghettos they have created for themselves and become full partners in the democratic societies in which they live. At the same time, he calls for the rest of us to recognize our Muslim neighbors as citizens with rights and responsibilities the same as ours. His vision is of a future in which a shared and confident pluralism becomes a reality at last.



Ramadan, Tariq.  Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation (Oxford University Press USA, 2008).

Tariq Ramadan has emerged as one of the foremost voices of reformist Islam in the West, notable for urging his fellow Muslims to participate fully in the civil life of the Western societies in which they live. In this new book, Ramadan addresses Muslim societies and communities everywhere with a bold call for radical reform. He challenges those who argue defensively that reform is a dangerous and foreign deviation, and a betrayal of the faith. Authentic reform, he says, has always been grounded in Islam's textual sources, spiritual objectives, and intellectual traditions. But the reformist movements that are based on renewed reading of textual sources while using traditional methodologies and categories have achieved only adaptive responses to the crisis facing a globalizing world. Such readings, Ramadan argues, have reached the limits of their usefulness. 

Ramadan calls for a radical reform that goes beyond adaptation to envision bold and creative solutions to transform the present and the future of our societies. This new approach interrogates the historically established sources, categories, higher objectives, tools, and methodologies of Islamic law and jurisprudence, and the authority this traditional geography of knowledge has granted to textual scholars. He proposes a new geography which redefines the sources and the spiritual and ethical objectives of the law creating room for the authority of scholars of the social and hard sciences. This will equip this transformative reform with the spiritual, ethical, social and scientific knowledge necessary to address contemporary challenges. Ramadan argues that radical reform demands not only the equal contributions of scholars of both the text and the context, but the critical engagement and creative imagination of the Muslim masses. This proposal for radical reform dramatically shifts the center of gravity of authority. It is bound to provoke controversy and spark debate among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.



Ramadan, Tariq. Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (Oxford University Press USA, 2005).

In a Western world suddenly acutely interested in Islam, one question has been repeatedly heard above the din: where are the Muslim reformers? With this ambitious volume, Tariq Ramadan firmly establishes himself as one of Europe's leading thinkers and one of Islam's most innovative and important voices.

As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslim becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context. French, English, German, and American Muslims--women as well as men--are reshaping their religion into one that is faithful to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American cultures, and definitively rooted in Western societies.

Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western societies. He then shows how these principles can be put to practical use. Ramadan contends that Muslims can-indeed must-be faithful to their principles while participating fully in the civic life of Western secular societies. Grounded in scholarship and bold in its aims, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam offers a striking vision of a new Muslim Identity, one which rejects once and for all the idea that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West.



Ravitsky, Aviezer, translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman. Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism (University of Chicago Press; First edition, 1996).

The Orthodox Jewish tradition affirms that Jewish exile will end with the coming of the Messiah. How, then, does Orthodoxy respond to the political realization of a Jewish homeland that is the State of Israel? In this cogent and searching study, Aviezer Ravitzky probes Orthodoxy's divergent positions on Zionism, which range from radical condemnation to virtual beatification.

Ravitzky traces the roots of Haredi ideology, which opposes the Zionist enterprise, and shows how Haredim living in Israel have come to terms with a state to them unholy and therefore doomed. Ravitzky also examines radical religious movements, including the Gush Emunim, to whom the State of Israel is a divine agent. He concludes with a discussion of the recent transformation of Habad Hassidism from conservatism to radical messianism.

This book is indispensable to anyone concerned with the complex confrontation between Jewish fundamentalism and Israeli political sovereignty, especially in light of the tragic death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.


IMG-6856 Robinson, Marilyn. The Giveneness of Things (Macmillan, 2015).

A sense of wonder pervades the powerful essays in “The Givenness of Things,” Marilynne Robinson’s new collection. “Existence is remarkable, actually incredible,” Robinson exclaims; even materiality is “profoundly amazing, uncanny.” Yet unlike physics, which has a strong sense of the “givenness” Robinson refers to in her title, neo-Darwinian positivism rejects anything — the self, the soul or God — that cannot be explained empirically. Robinson defines the “given” as something “that presents itself, reveals itself, always partially and circumstantially, accessible to only tentative apprehension, which means that it is always newly meaningful.” Calvin insisted that divine wisdom was one such “given,” perceived only “within radical limits.” Robinson does not say so, but here Calvin was deeply in tune with the great sages of the past, who all maintained that the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana or Dao must always ultimately elude us.

Calvin has had so profound an influence on Robinson’s religious heritage that when she reads him it seems “like the awakening of submerged memory.” Perhaps one reason for this is that the Protestant Reformation gave sacred sanction to ideals that were becoming essential to the new commercial economy in 16th-century Europe: independence, a strong work ethic, innovation and the enfranchisement of the lower classes. It had never been possible to implement these fully in premodern agrarian civilization, but their value would become self-evident in the modern West.

Read Karen Armstrong's full review here.


Rodinson, Maxime, translated by Roger Veinus. Europe and the Mystique of Islam (I. B. Tauris, 2002).

Since the time of the Crusades, Europeans have viewed Muslim culture and religion through the unique distorting lens of Orientalism, coloring all aspects of their perception and generating a curious blend of fascination and distrust. Maxime Rodinson presents the classic account of this relationship, in a history that is balanced and concise yet full of insight.


*Rogan, Eugene. The Arabs: A History (Basic Books; First trade paper edition, 2011).

In this definitive history of the modern Arab world, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan draws extensively on Arab sources and texts to place the Arab experience in its crucial historical context for the first time. Tracing five centuries of Arab history, Rogan reveals that there was an age when the Arabs set the rules for the rest of the world. Today, however, the Arab world’s sense of subjection to external powers carries vast consequences for both the region and Westerners who attempt to control it.


Roy, Olivier. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah (Columbia University Press, 2006).

The spread of Islam around the globe has blurred the connection between a religion, a specific society, and a territory. One-third of the world's Muslims now live as members of a minority. At the heart of this development is, on the one hand, the voluntary settlement of Muslims in Western societies and, on the other, the pervasiveness and influence of Western cultural models and social norms. The revival of Islam among Muslim populations in the last twenty years is often wrongly perceived as a backlash against westernization rather than as one of its consequences. Neofundamentalism has been gaining ground among a rootless Muslim youth -- particularly among the second- and third-generation migrants in the West -- and this phenomenon is feeding new forms of radicalism, ranging from support for Al Qaeda to the outright rejection of integration into Western society.

In this brilliant exegesis of the movement of Islam beyond traditional borders and its unwitting westernization, Olivier Roy argues that Islamic revival, or "re-Islamization," results from the efforts of westernized Muslims to assert their identity in a non-Muslim context. A schism has emerged between mainstream Islamist movements in the Muslim world -- including Hamas of Palestine and Hezbollah of Lebanon -- and the uprooted militants who strive to establish an imaginary ummah, or Muslim community, not embedded in any particular society or territory. Roy provides a detailed comparison of these transnational movements, whether peaceful, like Tablighi Jama'at and the Islamic brotherhoods, or violent, like Al Qaeda. He shows how neofundamentalism acknowledges without nostalgia the loss of pristine cultures, constructing instead a universal religious identity that transcends the very notion of culture. Thus contemporary Islamic fundamentalism is not a single-note reaction against westernization but a product and an agent of the complex forces of globalization.



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