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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"Introduction with depth and without bias"
I was cautious at first, given that a shallow, slanted view trends to sell better than a more nuanced look; especially given the current political climate.
I was quickly, pleasantly surprised by the quality of these lectures. Mr. Esposito provides a wonderful introduction to Islam, customs, and mainstream thought while giving historical and comparative analysis. Mr. Esposito also addresses extremism, it's relation/separation to the mainstream and gives context for verses (taken out of context) commonly used to justify extremism. Mr. Esposito them goes even further to explain how extremists are actually in violation of Islam.
Throughout, Mr. Esposito gives references and points to exact instances to support the material. Thus, he avoids the all too common trap of, "trust me, I have a title. "
I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about Islam, whether they were new to the topic or well versed. Mr. Esposito uses an academic approach, so if you are expecting proscletizing you will be disappointed. But, if you have a genuine curiosity, you will not be disappointed.
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.
"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.
"As a Muslim, this is fairly accurate"
As a Muslim, I wanted to understand how Islam is being presented to non-Muslims in an academic way. This is fairly accurate on the fundamentals, but there were several points I would have wanted to correct the professor at, especially in the second half of the course.
"A VERY brief introduction to the subject"
A fan of the Great Courses, I usually enjoy the wealth of information I can get from a single title. This title, however, was way too short. There was only one chapter (30 min) for example, about Muhammad and I cannot tell anything about the Koran from this lecture- it's structure, message, the famous comexities and paradoxes and the like.
"Good Material... But..."
The class is interesting, and it touches various topics of interest such as the role of women within Islam, or the future of the Islam. BUT, I was hoping for a deeper explanation of the doctrine itself.
"Beginning to Understand"
No characters. It's a lecture series.
I haven't but he was engaging.
I have a Christian background and didn't understand this third member of the Abrahamic tradition. There is a lot of information and you will begin to understand not only the divergence from Judaism and Christianity but the split between Sunni and Shia. I recommend it with caution because you will know that you understand more but also that a mountain of information is still out there.
"Fair overview of Islam"
Fair but not great. A bit too critical of Judaism and Christianity and also Western Civilization overall. There are better and fairer sources on Islam than this. C+ overall.
"Thorough and fascinating"
This author was fascinating to listen to, and obviously knows his subject well. Very passionate lectures, well organized, addressing a wide range of issues.
"A few hours of why 'No true Muslim' is a terrorist"
I wanted a history or theology 'course', not 9 hours of poorly justified harangues about the nature of 'true' Islam, where minorities doing really bad stuff are called extremists, and minorities doing good (by Western standards) are held up as examples of how good Islam is as a religion.
The entire series of lectures is rife with similar logic issues, from the early claim that Islam is an Abrahamic religion because it co-opted some of the tenets and history (rather than grew out of an existing Judaic tradition) to the later claim that almost all conceptions of negative aspects of Islam aren't really part of Islam because there's a group of practitioners who doesn't follow that aspect.
I didn't go in looking for an Islam bashing session, or reasons to hate Islam, but I was hoping for a more honest approach. This definitely wasn't one. It is 100% from the perspective that Islam is a wonderful religion, and any problems it has integrating with the modern world are due to the world, or minor subgroups barely worthy of any discussion or consideration except to talk about how they are polluting the 'true' meaning of Islam.
Admittedly this is a very short overview course, and there's not enough time to cover everything. The lecture on the 5 pillars was interesting, but wasn't tied to much historical context.
The discussion of the hijab was a particularly good discussion, although in the end felt a little unconvincing. Certainly there are freer societies where women choose to wear a headscarf as a means of expressing religious identity and opting out of an appearance driven culture. Tying that 1 to 1 in with the treatment of women in conservative dominated societies is a false comparison that does more harm that good to the Islamic cause.
At the end of the day, anything as nebulous and porous as religion needs to be considered from the point of view of the preponderance of its practitioners, and trying to define the 'true' version of a religion is rather meaningless, especially when going on about it comes at the expense of time that could be spent discussion the actual history or theologies of various sub groups.
"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.
"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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