What sets this text apart from many others is its focus on the socioeconomic, political, and cultural milieu in which a new religious movement was born and has thrived; its discussion of the origins of Islamic law, spirituality and theology, mysticism, philosophy, and culture; and an appendix of individual page-length biographies of important figures. Also included is a helpful glossary of terms, a ‘photo essay,’ selections from primary sources, and an annotated bibliography. . . . Gordon’s discussion of the sociocultural origins and authority of the Qur’an is very good. He also highlights an area of Islamic studies often ignored in general introduction, the role of urbanization in the development of Islamic civilization worldwide. . . . [T]his is a very useful and informative general introduction.” –The Historian
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