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The Straight Path

Fourth Edition

John L. Esposito

Publication Date - July 2010

ISBN: 9780195396003

352 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $57.95

A uniquely accessible, balanced, and current introduction to Islam, by world-renowned scholar John L. Esposito


Now in a new edition, this exceptionally successful survey text introduces the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary resurgence. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of this dynamic faith and its impact on world history and politics. Lucidly written and expansive in scope, Islam: The Straight Path, Fourth Edition, provides keen insight into one of the world's least understood religions. It is ideally suited for use in courses on Islam, comparative religions, and Middle Eastern history and culture.


* A revised Chapter 5, "Religion and Politics," provides more focused and up-to-date coverage of Osama bin Laden's influence and the continued growth of extremism; the relationship of Islam to violence; the meaning of jihad and the origins of a global jihad ideology; the role of suicide bombing; and the influence of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islam.

* An updated Chapter 6, "The Struggle for Islam in the 21st Century," covers Muslim responses to new social and political contexts and presents the diverse and competing positions--from traditionalist to modernist--of contemporary Muslim leaders on issues of religious authority, women's rights, Shariah, violence, and terrorism.

* More extensive treatment of early Islam in Chapters 1 and 2

* An enhanced art program featuring twenty-one photos and three maps

* A new appendix that includes an extensive timeline of key events in the history of Islam

* A FREE 6-month subscription to Oxford Islamic Studies Online (www.oxfordislamicstudies.com), edited by John L. Esposito. Please look inside for details.

New to this Edition

  • o Features the most up-to-date coverage of the influence of Osama bin Laden, and the growth of extremism and violence in the name of Islam (see Chapter 5 especially)
  • o The final Chapter 6
  • o An expanded art program of 21 photos and 3 maps, dispersed throughout the book (In the previous edition the art was gathered in just one section.)
  • o Expanded coverage of early Islam in Chapters 1 and 2, and has significantly updated and expanded the last two chapters on Islam in contemporary society.
  • A new Appendix includes an extensive Time Line of key events in the history of Islam.

Previous Publication Date(s)

December 2004
January 1998
October 1988


"This is an excellent, comprehensive, and highly accessible introduction to Islam and its civilization; Muslims and their societies in the pre-modern to the modern period; and contemporary intellectual and political trends. In my opinion, it really is the single best introduction to Islam and Muslims today. The book keeps getting better and better with each new edition!"--Asma Afsaruddin, University of Notre Dame

"I have to commend OUP for its commitment to revising and updating this important book. Esposito writes in a lucid, accessible, and direct style that allows the book to be an excellent introduction for novice students. Esposito illustrates the rare ability of being comprehensive without being reductive."--Febe Armanios, Middlebury College

Table of Contents

    Preface to the Fourth Edition
    1. Muhammad and the Quran: Messenger and Message
    Muhammad and the Muslim Community
    Muhammad and the West
    The Quran: The Word of God
    2. The Muslim Community in History
    Muhammad and the Medinan State
    The Caliphate (632-1258)
    Islam and the West: The Crusades and Muslim Response to Militant Christianity
    The Sultanate Period: Medieval Muslim Empires
    Islam in the West
    3. Religious Life: Belief and Practice
    Islamic Law
    Popular Religion
    4. Modern Islamic Reform Movements
    From Imperial Islam to Islamic Revivalism
    Revivalism in Islam
    Modern Islamic Movements
    5. Religion & Politics
    The Islamic Resurgence
    Ideological Worldview of Revivalism
    A Quiet Revolution
    Osama Bin Laden and Global Terrorism
    The Globalization and Hijacking of Jihad
    Sayyid Qutb: Martyr of Islamic Radicalism
    The Making of a Terrorist and his Global Jihad
    Terrorists and Suicide Bombing
    6. The Struggle for Islam in the 21st Century
    The Struggle in Islam: The Debate
    The Bifurcation of Society
    The Ulama and Reform
    Tradition: Anchor or Albatross?
    A Spectrum of Reformers and Approaches
    Cyberspace and High-Tech Islam
    Critical Areas of Islamic Reform
    The Challenge of Religious Pluralism
    Global Multifaith and Intercivilizational Initiatives
    The Challenge of Pluralism for Western Secular Democracies
    Select Bibliography