Publisher's Summary

How familiar are you with the world's second-largest and fastest-growing religion? In these 12 lectures, Professor Esposito guides you through the facts and myths surrounding Islam and its more than 1.2 billion adherents. Many in the West know little about the faith and are familiar only with the actions of a minority of radical extremists, but this lecture series will help you better understand Islam's role as both a religion and a way of life, and its deep impact on world affairs both historically and today.

What does the future hold for Islam and the West in the new century? How will it change under the influence of conservatives, reformers, and extremists? Moving from Muhammad to the present, from the 7th to the 21st centuries, you'll explore Muslim beliefs, practices, and history in the context of its significance and impact on Muslim life and society through the ages, as well as world events today. Topics you'll cover include the life and legacy of the prophet Muhammad; the nature and true meaning of jihad; the Muslim beliefs about other faiths such as Judaism and Christianity; Islamic contributions to mathematics, science, and art; the intricate relationship between Islam, modernization, capitalism, and democracy; and much more.
Professor Esposito takes a closer look at the historical development of two great Islamic institutions: Islamic law and Islamic mysticism. And he examines the worldwide "struggle for the soul of Islam" occurring today between conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Claire on 31-03-2015

Good Info, Less than I Wanted, AWFUL LECTURER

The information was good and respectful, and was presented well. I did learn stuff about Islam.

I'd been hoping for a LOT more detail, but that's largely my own fault for failing to notice that it was only a 6h course, as opposed to the 21h course I'd last purchased. Lesson learned!

But he was SO HARD to listen to! So many long random pauses! I listened to most of the course on 1.5x, and all was much improved, but there was still the occasional odd too-long pause. Even at 2x his speech patterns were distracting!

If I were to do this again, I'd look for the same lecturer's book on Audible, which looks to contain much of the same content, but is narrated by someone else.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Garrett on 01-07-2015


This course is actually a series of essays read aloud by the professor, with no attempt to make them into lectures. As a result, the monotonous pacing and complex sentence structure make it almost impossible to listen attentively. This is the first Great Course I've e we found to be so poorly done.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Matt on 20-08-2013

Highly compressed scholarship

This is the first "Great Courses" audiobook I've listened to and I have to say that I'm very impressed. I know quite a lot about Islam and religion in general and I was dubious about how much I would really learn from such a short course. However, I have been very pleasantly surprised! Prof. Esposito packs an enormous amount into each 30min lecture but does so with such enthusiasm and precision that you never feel that you're drowning.

The great strength of this course is its holistic approach. I knew a lot of the content before but I had never heard it presented with such an emphasis on context and the historical development of Islam. In Prof. Esposito's hands, familiar facts and concepts develop new significance as he shows how the pieces fit together to create the whole; I can think of no higher praise for a teacher.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Dr Iqbal Hussain on 06-01-2016

Great introduction to this topic

I found this audiobook of tremendous value.The author has good grasp of the subject matter and presents it in a very interesting manner.It should be useful to anyone who wants to understand Islam both in a historical and contemporary context.Many myths about Islam are laid to rest and the fact that the three Abrahamic faiths have much in common is emphasised. Recommended listening!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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