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Islam For Dummies

Product Description
Find out about customs, history, and Islamic law

From faith, prayer, and fasting to charity and pilgrimage, understand Muslim life

You don’t have to be Muslim to understand Islam. This friendly guide introduces you to the origins and practices of Islam, including the Five Pillars and life-cycle rituals. You’ll discover the significance of Muhammad and the Qur’an and meet the various Islamic sects. You’ll also see how Islam has adapted over time and read about current developments in the Islamic world.

The Dummies Way

  • Explanations in plain English
  • “Get in, get out” information
  • Icons and other navigational aids
  • Tear-out cheat sheet
  • Top ten lists
  • A dash of humor and fun

Islam For Dummies


    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. The title, “Islam for Dummies,” may well put off those with sophisticated intellectual pretensions, but the book has much to offer. It is well organized and written by a Department of Religion professor named Malcolm Clark who clearly knows the subject matter. After all, he is a professor emeritus at Butler University and it shows in his work. There is a great deal of interesting and helpful information about Islam in “Islam for Dummies.” I actually enjoyed reading the book and found it a worthwhile endeavor, but that was only because I already knew the subject matter and knew that while the information that was presented was, for the most part, quite accurate, there are glaring informational gaps such that if one only relied on “Islam for Dummies” as his or her sole source of information about Islam, he or she would be left with a dangerous mis- perception of the religion.

    Truth involves far more than saying what is true. The common law has recognized for centuries that when one speaks in certain settings that one is expected to give the whole truth. The greatest legal minds for centuries have understood that when one speaks on a subject one should not be allowed to deceive by careful omission of key information. A popular way to phrase the sentiment in California law is as follows: “Where one does speak he [or she] must speak the whole truth to the end that he [or she] does not conceal any facts which materially qualify those stated. One who is asked for or volunteers information must be truthful, and the telling of a half-truth calculated to deceive is fraud.” By the foregoing standard, “Islam for Dummies” perpetrates a fraud upon many of its readers.

    A dangerous mis-perception of Islam arises from the book’s failure to address any negative information about Muhammad even though most known positive information about Muhammad is discussed as well as his absolute importance to the religion. Islam is a revealed religion that derives exclusively from what Muhammad, Islam’s seventh century founder, alleged Allah said were the rules for living and how Muhammad lived his life and instructed others to live. It is impossible to have an accurate understanding about Islam without understanding all that is alleged to have been said and done by Muhammad as described in the earliest biography about him titled “Sirat Rasul Allah,” meaning life of God’s Messenger in Arabic. The “Sirat Rasul Allah” reveals character attributes of Muhammad that are quite laudable and the mainstream media and academia are very good at presenting those qualities, but the “Sirat Rasul Allah” also reveals Muhammad as a man that slaughtered captives, robbed caravans, sold women and children into slavery, had sexual relations with captive women, tortured prisoners, married a nine-year-old, forced his adopted son to divorce his wife so Muhammad could have her as a wife (she was purportedly quite beautiful), mandated war against non-Muslims for the sole reason that they were non-Muslims, and who had some of his critics and rivals assassinated. An abridged version of the biography can be found and reviewed for free online at, but none of the negative information about Muhammad can be found in “Islam for Dummies.”

    “Islam for Dummies” accurately explains that “[b]elievers know the traditional story of the founder [Muhammad] and an outsider who wants to understand the religion will also need to know the founder’s story and its importance in the religion.” Despite the foregoing accurate statement, “Islam for Dummies” then proceeds to give only half the story of Islam’s founder despite expressly recognizing the importance of the full story. “Islam for Dummies” accurately explains that in Islam, Muhammad’s life, as commanded in the Quran, is held up as a perfect, beautiful example for living for all time and how, in Islam, Muhammad is viewed as the light of the world and pole of the universe. One would think that explaining some of Muhammad’s acts of violence and how some terrorists justify their violence based on Muhammad’s example, just as the Qur’an commands, might help readers better understand Islam and Islamic terrorism, but all the author reveals regarding such violence is the following short passage that does not appear until page 269 of a 327 page book: “Still, the obligation of the Muslim state to wage war on non-Muslim states in order to bring them under the rule of God’s law led to negative views in many non-Muslim lands toward Islam.”

    While the foregoing statement is undeniably true, “Islam for Dummies” offers little, if any, proof for the foregoing statement to assist readers in accepting and understanding the very important principle. The book ignores any details about the violent manner by which Islam spread or the millions slaughtered during Islamic conquests. So much of the negative aspects of Islam are ignored that when readers read the above-quoted material, I suspect that few of them would be any more enlightened as to the full truth about Islam than if the phrase had been deleted from the book. Mere conclusions without factual support are usually neither persuasive nor memorable.

    It may well be that the author of “Islam for Dummies,” Malcolm Clark, originally wrote a much more balanced work and that he never intended to deceive anyone, but the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc., deleted anything that he or she thought might offend Muslims. Whatever the cause, books like “Islam for Dummies” do more to foster a false perception of Islam than they do to enlighten the public. For that reason, I only recommend this book to those people who will supplement it with an accurate history of Muhammad. I recommend “The Truth About Muhammad” by Robert Spencer. I believe it is now online and can be read for free, but please buy the book and support the author’s work if you can.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  3. I thought this book was great for providing information on not only the religion but the culture of Islam. It does not try to prove or defend the religion, just provide information.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. I read this book several years ago as part on a bible study on Islam.

    I hope you will enjoy and learn as much as I did out of it.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  5. The coverage was very straight forward and provided basic information for someone who was not familiar with Isalm. It is a good book to become familiar with Islam and to understand basic beliefs. It is a good basic refernce book.
    Rating: 4 / 5


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