BOOK REVIEW: What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, Second Edition by John L. Esposito (Oxford University Press) 2011
Educated in a secular French tradition and living with an Iranian woman, I have known very little about Islam.
Such is the case with many Westerners, as our main source of information has been from what we hear in the mainstream media, particularly in this decade-and-a-half since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the ongoing "War on Terror," taking place in Muslim-majority countries.
And the information provided by these medias were rarely accurate and mostly negative talking only about terrorist attacks and women's rights bashing in Muslim countries.
But times are changing. Multiculturalism and religious diversity are becoming the new norm, and that's a good thing.
During my few years in Oklahoma, I had the pleasure to meet Muslim believers (or not) to talk about their religion. Nevertheless, I was always wondering if these people were trying to convince me of the validity of their faith or if they knew exactly about what they were talking about. And how could I be sure?
It is exactly why What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam is the perfect book to accomplish this task. It is not simply a book that has the merit to explain in details through dozens of questions and answers everything one needs to know about Islam. It is a book that provides a neutral viewpoint on the subject. The author, John L. Esposito, is not a Muslim but clearly knows more about Islam than some Muslims.
Esposito is a professor of Religion and International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is also the founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding at Georgetown. Esposito had also spent a decade in aCatholic monastery, did a Masters in Theology and studied Islam for his Ph.D.
The objectivity and clarity of the book make it very pleasant to read. Each answer is independent meaning there is no need to read previous questions and answers to understand it. Answers are always provided with facts, insights, data, and historical, political and global information. And even if the second edition of What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam was published in 2011, it is still very accurate six years later.
Such a book about Islam (as well as other religions) should be obligatory to read in school and also for lawmakers and governments to reduce hatred, misunderstanding and manipulation. More than ever people need to understand and respect each other if they want to live together and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
As can be others religions, Islam is a very complex religion that has a rich history and numerous variations and followers.
What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam is a must to have for one who wants to understand this global religion.