Book Review: Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia

Paul Fehrmann


It is clear that the world of Islam is profoundly important, and also that there are wide and conflicting views on Islam today. Similarly, it seems clear that we should pursue efforts to promote the understanding of Islam. In response, a goal of the four volume Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia (IAWE) is to give “basic information on Islam” and to “shed light” on “controversial issues” (xxvii). In his opening comments, the editor, a Professor of International Law and Politics at Eskişehir Osmangazi University and Senior Researcher at the Wise Men Center for Strategic Research in Turkey, notes that there have been “a wide range of different interpretations and variations of Islam throughout history” (xxvii). He suggests that Muslims need to revive the “strong tradition of academic debate” that was integral to Islamic studies “in early decades of Islam,” and affirms support for the “diverse and plural nature of contemporary Islamic scholarship” (xxviii). At the same time, he is concerned that “disputed issues” may lead to “biases and stereotypes in the minds of Western people,” and hopes that this new resource can both “contribute to the pursuit of a common ground” between those of different faiths, and help a Western audience become more familiar with what Islam has to offer (xxviii).

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