I was surprised to see that this has not received many ratings and reviews. This book is a great start for anyone who is interested in Islamic studies or want to see a different but objective perspective about Islam. The writer, Dr. Carole Hillenbrand is a Professor Emerita in Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh and the first non-Muslim to be awarded the King Faisal International Proze for Islamic Studies. As a Muslim myself, it is interesting to read another view of my religion.
I expect that some so-called religious people in my country will not even bother to read this book because it is “written by kafirs” and so and so, but I guess that’s what makes their perspective as narrow as they are now. Reading this book made me understand how Islam is perceived by Christian (the author was raised Christian), such as how Christians can’t understand the concept of Muhammad SAW’s “warrior leader who leads the war” because they are used to the concept of “prince of peace” of Jesus. It also bravely points the problem with Islamic world, such as lack of leadership and extreme interpretation of Islam.
The book itself is very beautiful with 79 colored photos and illustrations. Using popular language, the book provides many historical stories such as history of Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the sects that “divide” Islam. The book also contains detailed sources, glossary of Islam, and further reading. I can even learn many new things only from the glossary.
Maybe I have some disagreements from some statement in the book, some things about Indonesian Muslims that maybe not too accurate, but overall I enjoyed reading this book. I’ll recommend this to every Muslims, especially the people who acts like nothing is wrong with some people’s interpretation of Islam (you know who “some people” are haha). The best part about this book? I got this book by chance on a half price discount at my favorite book store 🙂
My Goodreads rating: 4/5