Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia. Edited by Cenap Cakmak. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 4 vols. Acid free $415 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-216-8). E-book available (ISBN: 978-1-61069-217-5), call for pricing.

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).

With 146 contributors, primarily from academic settings in more than twenty-five countries, the encyclopedia covers the beginning of Islam to the present day. The first volume provides a seven-page chronology of major events in Islamic history, an alphabetical list of the 672 entries in the IAWE, and a topical guide with twenty-five broad categories such as “Art and Literature,” “Events, Family and Society,” “Islam,” “Law,” “Quran,” and “Women.” Entries are organized alphabetically across the IAWE.

A sampling of entries includes the broad topics of “Islam,” the “Quran,” and “Sharia.” Other topics include “Hijab” and “Islamophobia.” In addition to discussion of the prophet Muhammad, a good selection of biographical entries presents key figures in the history of Islam.

An example of the careful scholarly dialogue is seen in the four-page essay “Toleration/Religious,” by Kenan Çetinkaya, a lecturer with the Bozok University Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in Turkey. He walks through definitions and historical experiences of tolerance and intolerance in Islam and in Christianity. Similarly, the five-page entry “Abortion/Feticide,” by the editor, provides a picture of the historical treatment and complexity of that topic.

This reviewer found the entries informative, readable, and helpful with further reading and see also references. The fourth volume provides a ten-page glossary, a sixty-three-page index, and twenty-five-page bibliography. A section of photos and illustrations is included in each volume. A sample of the color photographs included shows Muslims at prayer, a madrassa (Muslim religious school), and key locations in Mecca.

There are other important reference works, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (Oxford, 2009), edited by John L. Esposito, the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World (Gale, 2016), edited by Richard Martin, The New Encyclopedia of Islam (Roman & Littlefield, 2013), edited by Cyril Glasse, and the Oxford Islamic Studies Online (Oxford, 2017), also edited by John L. Esposito. Each of these four positively reviewed works covers similar content, and, except for the work edited by Glasse, like the Cakmak encyclopedia they can be accessed as online resources. Additionally, a four-volume scholarly resource that provides an impressive array and depth on Islam and women is The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, edited by Joseph Saud (Brill, 2017). For those with limited funds who need to add a reference title on Islam, the single-volume print resource by Glasse could serve well. Those with more funds should also consider the others listed here, along with the work by Cakmak. As a resource for basic understanding of Islam and pointers to additional sources, this work could be useful for school, public, and academic libraries.—Paul Fehrmann, Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio


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