Since most non-Muslims know little about Islam, a book explaining the religion is very helpful. Reuven Firestone, a rabbi with a Ph.D in Islamic studies, has written a scholarly but accessible introduction to Islam with sections explaining the Muslim relationship with Jews and Islam’s response to Jewish texts. Beginning with a survey of Islamic history, Rabbi Firestone focuses on the role of the Jews during Islam’s emergence. He then explains the religious system, looking at the literature, theology, scripture, traditions, and laws. By examining the similarities and differences betwen Judaism and Islam, the author helps Jewish readers understand difficult concepts such as Jihad and the Islamic view of Jews, Christians, and other “people of the book.” His treatment of the material is objective and thoughtful. This wonderful resource includes notes, a glossary, and a bibliography.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.