2003, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London

Try the following quiz game. [] mark is correct, [] mark is wrong. (See the end of the article)
(1) Islam (Muslim) means "obedience to God"
(2) Muhammad was married several times
(3) The Sacred Book "Qur'an" written in Arabic is the word of God, but the translations are not
(4) There are not clerics in Islam
(5) Ummah, the Muslim Community does not reject any Muslim
In the article of this issue "From the Keihin Region" the difficulties for Evangelization in Muslim societies are mentioned. Certainly, Islam is a different culture still unknown to us. Thomas Michel, SJ, explains in the article published on n.118 of this Bulletin that we often have a wrong or prejudiced attitude towards Islam. What we really need is to know more about Islam.
The book I'm introducing here provides a correct knowledge about the history and teachings of Islam, offers a large number of beautiful illustrations and detailed data on those countries where the majority of the populations are Muslim. In other words, the book presents everything about Islam.
The author, Paul Lunde, is American borne from California who has been raised in Saudi Arabia. He learned the Arabic language and Arabic history and after working for several years in Arabian countries has published several works on the historical culture of Islam.
In this book Paul Lunde presents an overview of Islam's position in today's world, an account of Islam's observances and tenets, the spread of Islam and its influence on world history, the legacy of Islam on the arts and sciences, its modern and traditional values, a chronological table, etc. He explains from different angles the history of Islam and its present realities, its inherent culture and politics.
In the first place, Muslims constitute 1/5 of the world's population or about 1,200 million people. 44 countries have a majority of Muslims and Islam's influence is spread all over the world, from East and Central Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa and Latin America. Only the North American region is not within the influence of Islam. On the other hand, historically speaking, during the middle ages Islamic sciences, arts and architecture were clearly outstanding. Today, as a result of international terrorism, the image Islam holds is extremely bad: "Muslims are considered barbarians promoting self blast terrorist acts," but using our common sense it is unnatural to think that 20% of the world population that believes in Islam would be inferior to the other 30% world Christian population.
Attracted by the beautiful illustrations, I was unconsciously taken by a tour of the Islamic world. And, as a matter of fact, I could accept without any difficult feeling the reality that there exists an original culture and history, a religious life that has been continuously transmitted.
Some Islamic countries within the Arab world enjoy abundant natural resources of oil, while others in Africa suffer painfully from poverty and wars. There are Asian countries like Indonesia and the Philippines abundant in natural resources and young populations, but severe desserts and lack of people afflict other countries of Central Asia and the Middle East. There are extreme fundamentalist countries like Iran and Afghanistan and countries, like Turkey, with secular governments.
Reading the book I realized that by getting in touch with the richness of the Islamic world and its complexity one could start having a mutual religious understanding.

Answers to the quiz:
(2) His first wife was the widow of a rich trader. After that, he married again and again, sometimes to save widows and sometimes out of love.
(3) Muhammad had a revelation in the Arabic language that is impossible to be fully translated in other languages. This is the reason for reciting the Qur'an in Arabic.
(4) There are neither religious branches nor sacraments. There are law scholars (ulama) and instructors (immam) for the interpretation of the Qur'an.
(5) There is no thinking about heresies.

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