Religion

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    A History of GOD

     1,095
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    The idea of a single devine being – God, Yahweh, Allah – has existed for over 4,000 years. But the history of God is also the history of human struggle. While Judaism, Islam and Christianity proclaim the goodness of God, organised religion has too often been the catalyst for violence and ineradicable prejudice.

    In this fascinating, extensive and original account of the evolution of belief, Karen Armstrong examines Western society’s unerring fidelity to this idea of One God and the many conflicting convictions it engenders. A controversial, extraordinary story of worship and war, A History of God confronts the most fundamental fact – or fiction – of our lives.

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    After the Prophet The Epic Story Of The Shia Sunni Split

     1,495
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    In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than ever.

    Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, beginning a succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil war, pitting its founder’s controversial wife Aisha against his son-in-law Ali, and shattering Muhammad’s ideal of unity.

    Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophetexplores the volatile intersection of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia–Sunni split.

    Reference: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/77566/after-the-prophet-by-lesley-hazleton/9780385523943/

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    Buddha

     895
    Description:

    Buddhism is a faith that commands over 100 million followers throughout the world. Buddha stands with Christ, Confucius and Mohammed as someone who revolutionized the religious ideas of his time to advocate a new way of living.

    All that is known about Buddha comes from a collection of ancient writings that fuse history, biography and myth. Karen Armstrong distils from these the key events of Buddha’s life: his birth as Siddhartha Gotama in the fifth century BC and his abandonment of his wife and son; his attainment of enlightenment under the Banyan tree (the moment he became a buddha, or enlightened one; his political influence; the divisions among his followers; and his serene death. Armstrong also introduces the key tenets of Buddhism: she explains the doctrine of anatta (no-soul) and the concepts of kamma (actions), samsara (keeping going), dhamma (a law or teaching that reflects the fundamental principles of existence) and the idealised state of nibbana (literally the ‘cooling of the ego’). Since it promotes no personal god, Buddhism, writes Armstrong, ‘is essentially a psychological faith’. In our own age of secular anxiety, she shows that it has profound lessons to teach about selflessness and the simple life.

    Karen Armstrong’s short book is a magnificent introduction to the life and thought of this most influential of spiritual thinkers.

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    God A Human History

     745
    Description:

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer explores humanity’s quest to make sense of the divine in this concise and fascinating history of our understanding of God.

    In Zealot, Reza Aslan replaced the staid, well-worn portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth with a startling new image of the man in all his contradictions. In his new book, Aslan takes on a subject even more immense: God, writ large.

    In layered prose and with thoughtful, accessible scholarship, Aslan narrates the history of religion as a remarkably cohesive attempt to understand the divine by giving it human traits and emotions. According to Aslan, this innate desire to humanize God is hardwired in our brains, making it a central feature of nearly every religious tradition. As Aslan writes, “Whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless of whether we’re believers or not, what the vast majority of us think about when we think about God is a divine version of ourselves.”

    But this projection is not without consequences. We bestow upon God not just all that is good in human nature—our compassion, our thirst for justice—but all that is bad in it: our greed, our bigotry, our penchant for violence. All these qualities inform our religions, cultures, and governments.

    More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more universal spirituality. Whether you believe in one God, many gods, or no god at all, God: A Human History will challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.

    Reference: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/246531/god-by-reza-aslan/9780553394740/

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    Invisible Martyrs Inside the Secret World of Female Islamic Radicals

     1,095
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    Farhana Qazi draws on her background as a pioneering counterterrorism professional and a devout Muslim to offer an insider’s view of what drives girls and women to join radical Islamic movements and how we can keep them from making this terrible choice.

    The first Muslim woman to work for the US government’s Counterterrorism Center, Qazi found herself fascinated, even obsessed, by the phenomenon of female extremists. Why, she wondered, would a girl from Denver join ISIS, a radical movement known for its mistreatment of women? Why would a teenage Iraqi girl strap on a suicide bomb and detonate it?

    From Kashmir to Iraq to Afghanistan to Colorado to London, she discovered women of different backgrounds who all had their own reason for joining these movements. Some were confused, others had been taken advantage of, and some were just as radical and dedicated as their male counterparts. But in each case, Qazi found their choices were driven by a complex interaction of culture, context, and capability that was unique to each woman.

    This book reframes their stories so readers can see these girls and women as they truly are: females exploited by men. Through hearing their voices and sharing their journeys Qazi gained powerful insights not only into what motivated these women but also into the most effective ways to combat terrorism—and about herself as well. “Through them,” Qazi writes, “I discovered intervention strategies that are slowly helping women hold on to faith as they struggle with versions of orthodox Islam polluted by extremist interpretations. And in the process, I discovered a gentle Islam and more about myself as a woman of faith.”

    Reference: https://www.bkconnection.com/books/title/Invisible-Martyrs#more-book

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    Islam in Pakistan A History

     1,695
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    The first book to explore the modern history of Islam in South Asia

    The first modern state to be founded in the name of Islam, Pakistan was the largest Muslim country in the world at the time of its establishment in 1947. Today it is the second-most populous, after Indonesia. Islam in Pakistan is the first comprehensive book to explore Islam’s evolution in this region over the past century and a half, from the British colonial era to the present day. Muhammad Qasim Zaman presents a rich historical account of this major Muslim nation, insights into the rise and gradual decline of Islamic modernist thought in the South Asian region, and an understanding of how Islam has fared in the contemporary world.

    Much attention has been given to Pakistan’s role in sustaining the Afghan struggle against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, in the growth of the Taliban in the 1990s, and in the War on Terror after 9/11. But as Zaman shows, the nation’s significance in matters relating to Islam has much deeper roots. Since the late nineteenth century, South Asia has witnessed important initiatives toward rethinking core Islamic texts and traditions in the interest of their compatibility with the imperatives of modern life. Traditionalist scholars and their institutions, too, have had a prominent presence in the region, as have Islamism and Sufism. Pakistan did not merely inherit these and other aspects of Islam. Rather, it has been and remains a site of intense contestation over Islam’s public place, meaning, and interpretation.

    Examining how facets of Islam have been pivotal in Pakistani history, Islam in Pakistan offers sweeping perspectives on what constitutes an Islamic state.

    Reference: https://press.princeton.edu/titles/11325.html

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    Jihad and Dawah

     2,595
    Description:

    For those studying Islamist movements, terrorism and the link between religion, Muslim philanthropy and politics in Pakistan, Yasmeen’s scrupulously researched volume will be essential reading.

     

    This book provides a detailed account of the emergence and metamorphoses of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its political arm, Jamat ud Dawah (JuD), since the early 1990s. Linking the group’s narratives to the process of Islamisation in Pakistan and divergent views on the country’s Islamic identity, it is the first systematic analysis of how the organisation, globally reviled as the perpetrator of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, has developed its conception of da’wah (proselytising) and jihad in response to regional and global developments.

     

    Samina Yasmeen draws upon Urdu materials (pamphlets, books, ephemera) by Markaz Da’wah wal Irshad, the parent organisation of LeT, to examine the ‘insider’s vision’ of the dominant threats to Pakistan and the Muslim ummah, as well as strategies for countering these threats. She argues that while adopting an oppositional narrative vis-à-vis India and the West, LeT has incresingly turned its attention to da’wah narratives within Pakistan engaging with broader spectrums of society. Women have increasingly been assigned significant agency in this narrative, and JuD’s activism in education and social welfare has helped it acquire social capital. This, in turn, prompts a re-imagining of the movement’s relationship with the Pakistani military.

    Reference: https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/jihad-and-dawah/

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    Lost Islamic History Reclaiming Muslim Civilisation From The Past

     895
    Description:

    Islam has been one of the most powerful religious, social and political forces in history. Over the last 1400 years, from origins in Arabia, a succession of Muslim polities and later empires expanded to control territories and peoples that ultimately stretched from southern France to East Africa and South East Asia.
    Yet many of the contributions of Muslim thinkers, scientists and theologians, not to mention rulers, statesmen and soldiers, have been occluded. This book rescues from oblivion and neglect some of these personalities and institutions while offering the reader a new narrative of this lost Islamic history. The Umayyads, Abbasids, and Ottomans feature in the story, as do Muslim Spain, the savannah kingdoms of West Africa and the Mughal Empire, along with the later European colonization of Muslim lands and the development of modern nation-states in the Muslim world. Throughout, the impact of Islamic belief on scientific advancement, social structures, and cultural development is given due prominence, and the text is complemented by portraits of key personalities, inventions and little known historical nuggets. The history of Islam and of the world’s Muslims brings together diverse peoples, geographies and states, all interwoven into one narrative that begins with Muhammad and continues to this day.

    Reference: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Islamic-History-Reclaiming-Civilisation/dp/1849043973

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    Mothering a Muslim

     795
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    What does it mean to be a middle-class Muslim kid in India today? Talking to over a hundred children and their parents across twelve cities, Nazia Erum uncovers stories of religious segregation in classrooms and rampant bullying of Muslim children in many of the country’s top schools.

    Reference: https://www.juggernaut.in/books/2aaddc753bd248d38cd46d2fcae3cee4

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    Muhammad A Biography Of The Prophet

     575
    Description:

    A life of the prophet Muhammad by bestselling religious writer Karen Armstrong.

    Most people in the West know very little about the prophet Muhammad. The acclaimed religious writer Karen Armstrong has written a biography which will give us a more accurate and profound understanding of Islam and the people who adhere to it so strongly. Muhammad also offers challenging comparisons with the two religions most closely related to it – Judaism and Christianity.

    Reference: https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/titles/karen-armstrong/muhammad/9781842126080/

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    Muhammad A Biography Of The Prophet

     575
    Description:

    A life of the prophet Muhammad by bestselling religious writer Karen Armstrong.

    Most people in the West know very little about the prophet Muhammad. The acclaimed religious writer Karen Armstrong has written a biography which will give us a more accurate and profound understanding of Islam and the people who adhere to it so strongly. Muhammad also offers challenging comparisons with the two religions most closely related to it – Judaism and Christianity.

    Reference: https://www.orionbooks.co.uk/titles/karen-armstrong/muhammad/9781842126080/

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    Muhammad A Story of the Last Prophet

     595
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    “Compassionate and clear…a courageous undertaking.” —Greg Mortenson, New York Times bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools

    “As a scholar and storyteller extraordinaire, Deepak Chopra portrays a morally courageous yet highly human messenger of God.” —Irshad Manji, Director, Moral Courage Project, New York University

    From the New York Times bestselling author of Buddha and Jesuscomes the page-turning and soul-stirring story of Muhammad. Deepak Chopra—easily one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the world today—delivers this stunning, sincere, and highly accessible portrait of the Prophet of Islam. Chopra’s Muhammad is an outstanding resource for everyone who thinks they should know more about the man who inspired the world’s fastest-growing religion.

    Reference: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780061782428/muhammad/

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    No god but God

     745
    Description:

    A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer

    FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD

    In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexityThis 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.

    Reference: http://www.randomhousebooks.com/books/9780812982442/

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    Pan-Islamic Connections

     2,595
    Description:

    An absorbing comparison of ‘the Islams’ of Arabia and South Asia and how they interact through the vectors of trade, politics and migration.

     

    South Asia is today the region inhabited by the largest number of Muslims—roughly 500 million. In the course of its Islamisation process, which began in the eighth century, it developed a distinct Indo-Islamic civilisation that culminated in the Mughal Empire. While paying lip service to the power centres of Islam in the Gulf, including Mecca and Medina, this civilisation has cultivated its own variety of Islam, based on Sufism.

    Over the last fifty years, pan-Islamic ties have intensified between these two regions. Gathering together some of the best specialists on the subject, this volume explores these ideological, educational and spiritual networks, which have gained momentum due to political strategies, migration flows and increased communications.

    At stake are both the resilience of the civilisation that imbued South Asia with a specific identity, and the relations between Sunnis and Shias in a region where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a cultural proxy war, as evident in the foreign ramifications of sectarianism in Pakistan.

    References: https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/pan-islamic-connections/

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    Purifying the Land of the Pure

     945
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    ‘An unnerving tale of how politics empowered bigotry in Pakistan’ Asma Jahangir

    ‘[Y]ou will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.’ – Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    Pakistan was carved out in 1947 to protect the subcontinent’s largest religious minority. It was conceived as a Muslim-majority, albeit secular, State that would set an example for India on how to treat its minorities. But soon after Independence, even as Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah lay dying, political, religious and social leaders proclaimed it an Islamic State, drumming up a national narrative of Islamic victimhood.

    The result is an ever-intensifying prejudice against religious minorities in an effort to make Pakistan ‘purer’ in ‘Islamic’ terms. Purifying the Land of the Pure is an analysis of the country’s policies towards its religious minority populations, as well as an attempt to set the record straight about why Pakistan was created and where it moved away from Jinnah’s modern pluralist vision to that of a purely Sunni Islamic nation.

    Farahnaz Ispahani brings to the subject an uncommon combination: the rigour of a scholar and the ground-level experience of a parliamentarian. A crucial addition to the literature on Pakistan.

     

    Reference: https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9789351775522/purifying-the-land-of-the-pure/

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    Salafism After the Arab Awakening

     2,995
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    Leading experts analyse the critical role played by Salafism across the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring.

    286

    One of the most interesting consequences of the Arab awakening has been the central role of Salafists in a number of countries. In particular, there seems to have been a move away from traditional quietism towards an increasing degree of politicisation. The arrival on the political scene of Salafist parties in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, as well as the seemingly growing desire of Salafists in other Arab countries to enter institutional politics through the creation of political parties, highlights quite clearly the debates around how to react to the awakening within Salafist circles.

    This book examines in detail how Salafism, both theologically and politically, is contending with the Arab uprisings across a number of countries. The focus is primarily on what kind of politicisation, if any, has taken place and what forms it has adopted. As some of the contributions make clear, politicisation does not necessarily diminish the role of jihad or the influence of quietism, revealing tensions and struggles within the complex world of Salafism.

     

    Reference: https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/salafism-arab-awakening/

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    Sea of the Caliphs

     1,595
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    “How could I allow my soldiers to sail on this disloyal and cruel sea?” These words, attributed to the most powerful caliph of medieval Islam, Umar Ibn al-Khattab (634–644), have led to a misunderstanding in the West about the importance of the Mediterranean to early Islam. This body of water, known in Late Antiquity as the Sea of the Romans, was critical to establishing the kingdom of the caliphs and for introducing the new religion to Europe and Africa. Over time, it also became a pathway to commercial and political dominion, indispensable to the prosperity and influence of the Islamic world. Sea of the Caliphsreturns Muslim sailors to their place of prominence in the history of the Islamic caliphate.

    As early as the seventh century, Muslim sailors competed with Greek and Latin seamen for control of this far-flung route of passage. Christophe Picard recreates these adventures as they were communicated to admiring Muslims by their rulers. After the Arab conquest of southern Europe and North Africa, Muslims began to speak of the Mediterranean in their strategic visions, business practices, and notions of nature and the state. Jurists and ideologues conceived of the sea as a conduit for jihad, even as Muslims’ maritime trade with Latin, Byzantine, and Berber societies increased.

    In the thirteenth century, Christian powers took over Mediterranean trade routes, but by that time a Muslim identity that operated both within and in opposition to Europe had been shaped by encounters across the sea of the caliphs.

    Reference: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674660465

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    Siddhartha

     250
    Description:

    The classic novel of a quest for knowledge that has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers—a perennial favorite for graduation gifts.

    Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

    Though set in a place and time far removed from the Germany of 1922, the year of the book’s debut, the novel is infused with the sensibilities of Hermann Hesse’s time, synthesizing disparate philosophies–Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism–into a unique vision of life as expressed through one man’s search for meaning.

    It is the story of the quest of Siddhartha, a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege and comfort to seek spiritual fulfillment and wisdom. On his journey, Siddhartha encounters wandering ascetics, Buddhist monks, and successful merchants, as well as a courtesan named Kamala and a simple ferryman who has attained enlightenment. Traveling among these people and experiencing life’s vital passages–love, work, friendship, and fatherhood–Siddhartha discovers that true knowledge is guided from within.

    Reference: https://www.amazon.com/Siddhartha-Novel-Hermann-Hesse/dp/0553208845

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    Spirit Of Islam

     550
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    A history of the evolution and ideals of Islam, with a life of the prophecy.

    Contents:

    Life and Ministry of the Prophet: Mohammed the prophet;Hegira; prophet at Medina; hostility of the Koreish and the Jews; invasion of Medina; prophets clemency; diffusion of the faith; year of deputations; fulfillment of the prophet’s work; apostolical succession;

    Spirit of Islam: ideal of Islam; religious spirit of Islam; idea of future life in Islam; church militant of Islam; status of women in Islam; bondage in Islam; political spirit of Islam; political divisions and schisms of Islam; literary and scientific sprit of Islam; rationalistic and philosophical spirit of Islam; idealistic and mystical spirit in Islam.

    Reference: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9031966-the-spirit-of-islam

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    The Clash Of Civilizations

     825
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    The classic study of post-Cold War international relations, more relevant than ever in the post-9/11 world, with a new foreword by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    Since its initial publication, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order has become a classic work of international relations and one of the most influential books ever written about foreign affairs. An insightful and powerful analysis of the forces driving global politics, it is as indispensable to our understanding of American foreign policy today as the day it was published. As former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski says in his new foreword to the book, it “has earned a place on the shelf of only about a dozen or so truly enduring works that provide the quintessential insights necessary for a broad understanding of world affairs in our time.”

    Samuel Huntington explains how clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace but also how an international order based on civilizations is the best safeguard against war. Events since the publication of the book have proved the wisdom of that analysis. The 9/11 attacks and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the threat of civilizations but have also shown how vital international cross-civilization cooperation is to restoring peace. As ideological distinctions among nations have been replaced by cultural differences, world politics has been reconfigured. Across the globe, new conflicts—and new cooperation—have replaced the old order of the Cold War era.

    The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order explains how the population explosion in Muslim countries and the economic rise of East Asia are changing global politics. These developments challenge Western dominance, promote opposition to supposedly “universal” Western ideals, and intensify intercivilization conflict over such issues as nuclear proliferation, immigration, human rights, and democracy. The Muslim population surge has led to many small wars throughout Eurasia, and the rise of China could lead to a global war of civilizations. Huntington offers a strategy for the West to preserve its unique culture and emphasizes the need for people everywhere to learn to coexist in a complex, multipolar, muliticivilizational world.

    Reference: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Clash-of-Civilizations-and-the-Remaking-of-World-Order/Samuel-P-Huntington/9781451628975

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    The Four Horsemen The Conversation That Sparked An Atheist Revolution

     1,195
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    In 2007, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett filmed a landmark discussion about modern atheism. The video went viral. Now in print for the first time, the transcript of their conversation is illuminated by new essays from three of the original participants and an introduction by Stephen Fry.

    At the dawn of the new atheist movement, the thinkers who became known as “the four horsemen,” the heralds of religion’s unraveling—Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett—sat down together over cocktails. What followed was a rigorous, pathbreaking, and enthralling exchange, which has been viewed millions of times since it was first posted on YouTube. This is intellectual inquiry at its best: exhilarating, funny, and unpredictable, sincere and probing, reminding us just how varied and colorful the threads of modern atheism are.

    Here is the transcript of that conversation, in print for the first time, augmented by material from the living participants: Dawkins, Harris, and Dennett. These new essays, introduced by Stephen Fry, mark the evolution of their thinking and highlight particularly resonant aspects of this epic exchange. Each man contends with the most fundamental questions of human existence while challenging the others to articulate their own stance on God and religion, cultural criticism, spirituality, debate with people of faith, and the components of a truly ethical life.

    Reference: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/586726/the-four-horsemen-by-christopher-hitchens-richard-dawkins-sam-harris-and-daniel-dennett/9780525511953/

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    The Illustrated Rumi A Treasury of Wisdom from the Poet of the Soul

     1,995
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    “One could live a complete life based on the wondrous words of Rumi. But add images and story, and you have more than enough for a lifetime, an overabundance…an excess of wisdom, beauty, and pleasure. This book will be one of the few I take wherever I go.” —Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Original Self

    This richly illustrated collection delivers a fresh and inspiring way to read Rumi’s most intimate poems of love, rage, sadness, joy, and longing. No other edition of Rumi’s poetry combines his singularly passionate words with authentic, rare, and wonderful Sufi and Islamic art. Readers moved by Sappho, Hafiz, Rilke, or by Coleman Barks’ translations of Rumi will relish the beautiful imagery and new translations in this unique volume of some of the finest works by “the most popular poet in America” (Time magazine).

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    The Life of Muhammad A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah

     1,750
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    Professor Guillaume’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah is now reissued. The translator used Ibn Hisham’s abridgement and also included many additions and variants found in the writings of early authors. The book thus presents in English practically all that is known of the life of the Prophet.

     

    In the introduction, the translator discusses the character of the Sira in the light of the opinion of early Arabian scholars, noting especially the difficulties of the poetry. As the earliest monument of Arabian prose literature, the Siraremains a work of the first importance.

    Reference: https://oup.com.pk/the-life-of-muhammad.html

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    The Lost Art of Scripture

     1,995
    Description:

    ‘KAREN ARMSTRONG IS A GENIUS’ A.N. Wilson

    ‘One of our best living writers on religion’ Financial Times

    ‘Karen Armstrong is one of the handful of wise and supremely intelligent commentators on religion’ Alain De Botton

     

    In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if our world no longer seems compatible with scripture, is it perhaps because its original purpose has become lost?

     

    Today we see the Quran being used by some to justify war and terrorism, the Torah to deny Palestinians the right to live in the Land of Israel, and the Bible to condemn homosexuality and contraception. The holy texts at the centre of all religious traditions are often employed selectively to underwrite arbitrary and subjective views. They are believed to be divinely ordained; they are claimed to contain eternal truths.

    But as Karen Armstrong, a world authority on religious affairs, shows in this fascinating journey through millennia of history, this narrow reading of scripture is a relatively recent phenomenon. For hundreds of years these texts were instead viewed as spiritual tools: scripture was a means for the individual to connect with the divine, to transcend their physical existence, and to experience a higher level of consciousness. Holy texts were seen as fluid and adaptable, rather than a set of binding archaic rules or a ‘truth’ that has to be ‘believed’.

    Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance, intolerance and violence. And if scripture is used to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways, we will find that it still has a great deal to teach us.

    Reference: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1112667/the-lost-art-of-scripture/9781847924315.html

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    The Republic of Arabic Letters

     1,595
    Description:

    “Fascinating, eloquent, and learned…A powerful reminder of the ability of scholarship to transcend cultural divides, and the capacity of human minds to accept differences without denouncing them.”Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch and Liberty’s Exile

    In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a pioneering community of Christian scholars laid the groundwork for the modern Western understanding of Islamic civilization. These men produced the first accurate translation of the Qur’an into a European language, mapped the branches of the Islamic arts and sciences, and wrote Muslim history using Arabic sources. The Republic of Arabic Lettersreconstructs this process, revealing the influence of Catholic and Protestant intellectuals on the secular Enlightenment understanding of Islam and its written traditions.

    Drawing on Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, and Latin sources, Alexander Bevilacqua’s rich intellectual history retraces the routes―both mental and physical―that Christian scholars traveled to acquire, study, and comprehend Arabic manuscripts. The knowledge they generated was deeply indebted to native Muslim traditions, especially Ottoman ones. Eventually, the translations, compilations, and histories they produced reached such luminaries as Voltaire and Edward Gibbon, who not only assimilated the factual content of these works but wove their interpretations into the fabric of Enlightenment thought.

    The Republic of Arabic Letters shows that the Western effort to learn about Islam and its religious and intellectual traditions issued not from a secular agenda but from the scholarly commitments of a select group of Christians. These authors cast aside inherited views and bequeathed a new understanding of Islam to the modern West.

    Reference: https://www.amazon.com/Republic-Arabic-Letters-European-Enlightenment/dp/0674975928

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    The Siege Of Mecca

     1,095
    Description:

    In The Siege of Mecca, acclaimed journalist Yaroslav Trofimov pulls back the curtain on a thrilling, pivotal, and overlooked episode of modern history, examining its repercussions on the Middle East and the world.

    On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. That same morning, gunmen stunned the world by seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca, creating a siege that trapped 100,000 people and lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths. But in the days before CNN and Al Jazeera, the press barely took notice. Trofimov interviews for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, and draws upon hundreds of newly declassified documents. With the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals the long-lasting aftereffects of the uprising and its influence on the world today.

    Reference: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/180407/the-siege-of-mecca-by-yaroslav-trofimov/9780307277732/

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