An Introduction to Islam, Second Edition
by David Waines
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 392 pp $65 ($23, paper).
Reviewed by Khaleel Mohammed
San Diego State University
Middle East Quarterly
This second edition of Waines's 1995 work has thirty-five more pages, most of them in the section on contemporary issues, clearly responding to questions that were raised in the aftermath of September 11. The author writes from a phenomenological perspective and covers a breadth of material that makes this book probably the most comprehensive academic introduction to Islam.
For all its excellence, however, the new edition still suffers from needless flaws, suggesting that the research for it was hurried. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baz died in 1999, making the information on p. 88 (which has him still living) therefore outdated. In dealing with modern Islam, it is startling to find Muhammad al-‘Ashmawi, Mahmud Muhammad Taha, and ‘Abdallah an-Na‘im not mentioned. The indexing does not adequately reflect the full richness of the data in the text.
Contrarily, Waines presents Yusuf al-Qaradawi as a pacifist reformer, ignoring that scholar's notorious endorsement of terrorism (see page "The Qaradawi Fatwas" in this issue). The presentation on the Israel-Palestine situation is rather tendentious, focusing on case after case of alleged Israeli wrongdoing while downplaying the full savagery and criminality of homicide bombings, portrayed rather as acts of desperation. The author covers the fundamentalist Christian hate messages, but does not in any way deal with the xenophobia and anti-Semitism that have become part of contemporary political Islam. To do so would have meant focusing on the dichotomy between Qur'an and tradition, an issue raised by many reformers but not covered by Waines in any detail.
Related Topics: Islam | Khaleel Mohammed | Summer 2004 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.