No God but God

No God but God

The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Book - 2005
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Random House, Inc.
Though it is the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam remains shrouded by ignorance and fear. What is the essence of this ancient faith? Is it a religion of peace or war? How does Allah differ from the God of Jews and Christians? Can an Islamic state be founded on democratic values such as pluralism and human rights? A writer and scholar of comparative religions, Reza Aslan has earned international acclaim for the passion and clarity he has brought to these questions. In No god but God, challenging the “clash of civilizations” mentality that has distorted our view of Islam, Aslan explains this critical faith in all its complexity, beauty, and compassion.

Contrary to popular perception in the West, Islam is a religion firmly rooted in the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Aslan begins with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu in which the Prophet Muhammad lilved. The revelations that Muhammad received in Mecca and Medina, which were recorded in the Quran, became the foundation for a radically more egalitarian community, the likes of which had never been seen before.

Soon after his death, the Prophet’s successors set about the overwhelming task of defining and interpreting Muhammad’s message for future generations. Their efforts led to the development of a comprehensive code of conduct that was expected to regulate every aspect of the believer’s life. But this attempt only widened the chasm between orthodox Islam and its two major sects, Shiism and Sufism, both of which Aslan discusses in rich detail.

Finally, No god but God examines how, in the shadow of European colonialism, Muslims developed conflicting strategies to reconcile traditional Islamic values with the social and political realities of the modern world. With the emergence of the Islamic state in the twentieth century, this contest over the future of Islam has become a passionate, sometimes violent battle between those who seek to enforce a rigid and archaic legal code and those who struggle to harmonize the teachings of the Prophet with contemporary ideals of democracy and human rights. According to Reza Aslan, we are now living in the era of “the Islamic Reformation.” No god but God is a persuasive and elegantly written account of the roots of this reformation and the future of Islamic faith.

Baker & Taylor
Presents the origins and history of Islam, with emphasis on its relation to other religions and the impact that terrorism is having on the current perception of Islam throughout the non-Islamic world.

& Taylor

An authoritative study of the Islamic faith in relation to the other world religions sheds new light on its origins and history, from the social reformation role of Muhammad to the impact of fundamentalism and terrorism on Islam. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400062133
Characteristics: xxiv, 310 p. ; 25 cm


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Nov 19, 2017

Interesting history of 7th century Arabia. However the author seems to present the Disney version of Muhammad.

He omitted for example; marrying a 6 year old girl and having sex with her at age nine,
he says Muhammad is peaceful yet quran 8:12 is "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

The glossary of key Islamic terms excludes; Shahid - one who dies will killing for Islam, Ishtishad - martyrdom operation, Taqiyya - deception and lying to further Islam.

He does mention a key issue with Islam. Hadiths cannot be trusted and are used by ultra-conservative imams and 'believers' to espouse intolerance and violence against others deemed 'unbelievers'.

Oct 09, 2016

The lack of in text citation is always a pet peeve for me with historical writing. In some places he goes wonderfully into detail and other times he plops and idea out there that I really feel needs elaboration or citation of some kind and there isn't any. The last couple chapters I very much enjoyed and it really gave me a different perspective on the route that Islam is going in modern times. Overall a good over view of the history of Islam with great insight on where its headed. Worth the read if your interested in an approachable intro to the subject.

Aug 04, 2016

Really learned SO MUCH about true Islam. Very informative and easy to read. Will probably buy this.

Mar 14, 2016

Who is Paul Austin Murphy?

Mee2 Mar 13, 2016

“When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (Quran, 47:4).” The problem with this book stems from the writer, and is very well detailed and explained in these excellent articles: and “The author argued that the teachings in Quran do not demean women and that man and woman are created equal?” Ask women in the muslim world how they like their status! (I thought this book was written by Aslan, not Murphy...)

dendem4 Mar 12, 2016

Not bad, but I wish Aslan didn't try so hard to push a political agenda.

Apr 01, 2015

A well-rounded book, and a journey well into the heart of islam. However, sometimes it mentions themes, promises them to explore them further but they never show up in later chapters. Other than that, and of course, because the publisher and editors must have wanted to deem it readable, it is a concise explanation into the past, present and future of Islam and its relevance to the modern context. The book also tries, albeit in a very slight manner, to distinguish between myths and historical facts.

Mar 11, 2015

It is regrettable that our library system has only one copy of such an important book available, especially at a time when we need to be better informed about Islam. This book should be widely read in order for this to happen.

I think there has been a revival of previous works y Aslan after the success of Zealot. This is a scholarly book, easier to read than the Armstrong history of Islam, and I certainly recommend it for westerners looking for more insight into the Muslim mind. Bravo Jac444 for your excellent synopsis [below]

Aug 18, 2013

Finished the 140 pages over the weekend -- short but engrossing.

The book covers the rise of the Prophet and his several following leaders. The book described him to be more of a social revolutionary than a religious fanatics. He preached against the established social injustice and had to flee Mecca for his life. He then built a Utopia based on his teaching with the backing of local Jewish and Arabic tribes. Eventually his teachings (care for the under-privileged, all men are equal (!), women should be allowed to inherit (!!) and more...) attracted enough followings and he won back Mecca without bloodshed.

What did he do when he went back to Mecca? He shattered ALL idols (No Gods but God) but the images of Jesus and Mary. This is following the same vein that Christianity and Islam are from the same Faith (or something like that, I am no scholar).

The book also tries to dispel some common (at least seems to me) perceptions people have about Islam -- for example, is Islam a "religion of sword", meaning all Kafirs should be killed? No, Quran stated "let you believe in your god and me mine".

The book has a dedicated chapter talking about the status of women in the Islam faith. The author argued that the teachings in Quran do not demean women and that man and woman are created equal. This idea was in front of the western thinking and practice by about 1000 years. However, after the death of the Prophet, the interpretation of his teaching fell mostly to the people that wanted the status quo back (i.e. men OWN women and others).

Read the book and gain a new perspective about Islam.

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