Designed for general readers with little or no knowledge of Islam, this superb Oxford Dictionary provides more than 2,000 vividly written, up-to-date, and authoritative entries organized in an easy-to-use, A-to-Z format.
The Dictionary focuses primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries, stressing topics of most interest to Westerners. What emerges is a highly informative look at the religious, political, and social spheres of the modern Islamic world. Naturally, readers will find many entries on topics of intense current interest, such as terrorism and the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, the PLO and HAMAS. But the coverage goes well beyond recent headlines. There are biographical profiles, ranging from Naguib Mahfouz (the Nobel Prize winner from Egypt) to Malcolm X, including political leaders, influential thinkers, poets, scientists, and writers. Other entries cover major political movements, militant groups, and religious sects as well as terms from Islamic law, culture, and religion, key historical events, and important landmarks (such as Mecca and Medina). A series of entries looks at Islam in individual nations, such as Afghanistan, the West Bank and Gaza, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the United States, and there are discussions of Islamic views on such issues as abortion, birth control, the Internet, the Rushdie Affair, and the theory of evolution.
Whether we are listening to the evening news, browsing through the op-ed pages, or reading a book on current events, references to Muslims and the Islamic world appear at every turn. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam offers a wealth of information for anyone curious about this burgeoning and increasingly important world religion.
The public still needs accessible reference sources on Islam, and Esposito (Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World) has coordinated more than 100 contributors to present this readable dictionary. Its more than 2000 entries include such recent developments and actors as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden, all in straightforward writing. The editor adopted a standard transliteration with few diacriticals, only adapting the entries for words that have achieved common currency in a different form. Those entries are in the language that lay readers would most likely search under (e.g., "fasting" rather than "sawm"). Dictionaries are inevitably uneven. Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II receives an entry, but his long-lived contemporary, Nasir al-Din Shah, does not. There are occasional interpretive inaccuracies as well, but on the whole this is an excellent resource for ready-reference collections in any library. It should be used along with other resources such as H.A.R. Gibb and J.H. Kramer's Concise Encyclopedia of Islam or, for academic libraries, Brill's full Encyclopaedia of Islam.-William P. Collins, Library of Congress Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.