This book presents some twenty essays on different aspects of Islam in history and the present. These essays are grouped into eight larger sections. The first, "The Beginnings", deals with the transition from pre-Islamic understandings and reason, an essential part of the Quranic message. The next two sections deal with Islam specifically as a religion with its particular signs and symbols. The question of rules of interpretation in Islam and its structural features is discussed here. Sections four and five deal with ethics in Islam, including Muslim identity and human rights, and certain social functions of Islam. Section six introduces some 19th and 20th century reform movements, with special attention given to developments in Saudi Arabia and the "puritan" characteristics of present-day Islamic revival movements. The final two sections discuss contemporary issues: Islamization processes and policies, Islamic ideologies, the ideologization of Islam, and the political uses of religion. Throughout the book the author shows the links between the religious and other interpretations and uses made of Islam and the contexts in which they are made. The Introduction signals some important developments in Islamic studies since World War II.
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