Title: Islam: A Brief Look at Faith & History
Paperback: 162 pages
Author: Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari
Price: $13.95 (lulu.com)
Review by Sadiya Barkat
Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari is a faculty member at MCC Academy in Chicago and imam at the MEC Masjid in Morton Grove, Illinois.
Br. Ansari’s “Islam: A Brief Look at Faith & History,” published by Light Upon Light, is an amazing and concise view into Islamic beliefs and practices, as well as Islamic history, suitable for the Muslim or non-Muslim, layperson or scholar. In a brief 162 pages, the book is absolutely packed with information. It is divided into two sections, one describing core beliefs and practices, and the other laying out a summary of Islamic history.
The first section does an excellent job of expounding upon the core beliefs of Islam in such a way that interests both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. This section is extremely well organized, and each principle, pillar, or point of faith is explained well. Issues that have provoked much debate in the West, such as polygamy, extremism, and women’s rights, are explored with simplicity and intelligence. The book also examines the common divine source of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The second section of the book was astonishing — the author manages to pack in over 1400 years of history into less than 100 pages, giving the reader keen insight into major events in Islamic civilization. The various Muslim dynasties and empires are presented in a balanced manner, with the author acknowledging the gap that often existed between Islamic principles and worldly practice. Unflattering or contentious events in Islamic history are not glossed over, but rather portrayed in an honest light and with fair critique, making for a very enriching and thought-provoking reading experience.
The author also does an excellent job of highlighting how the complexities of history and the occurrence of colonialism have created or contributed to some of the contemporary problems within the Muslim world. This book can serve as a valuable textbook for middle school and high school. Overall, “Islam: A Brief Look at Faith & History” is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to gain more information about Islam and its role in, and contributions to, human civilization.