Islam:A short history by Karen Armstrong

Thebook above is from one of the foremost commentators about religiousaffiliations comparing their effects to the current set of eventsthat give guidance to the way of life of the people practicing theparticular religion. The book focuses on giving the history, andprobably the destiny of the Islamic religion, one that stands as theworld`s most mistaken religion when compared to the other religiousgroups. In many occasions, and in many people’s minds the religionof Islam stands as a religion that promotes the extremists and thegreatest group of fanaticism exists in the Islamic religion. However,Islam stands as the world’s greatest religion from the facts thatdominate various demographic reports. Three-quarters of all worldrefugees are Muslims the Islamic religion gains the reputation ofproducing governments that have authoritarian monarchies since timein memorial. The autocratic monarchies dominate the Middle Eastnations hugely, with additional ultra-republics leaders springing inthe Iran and select surrounding nations. In the current news ofpolitical unrests and civil wars in the Horn of Africa, or thestruggle to gain leadership in Turkey, the Egyptian, and Libyangovernment overthrows, political struggles and devastations inMalaysia, there is an Islamic context that tends to permeate all ofthe struggles mentioned. The Islamic religion manages to be at thecore of the violent political unrests. Hence, many people from thevarious parts of the world create an underlying stereotype thatseparates Islam from other religions and places it as a religion thatfuels violence and promotes ending lives of the people who fail tobelieve in the Islamic beliefs.

However,the book at hand plays an imperative role to try and shape thereligion a rather fainter picture to clear the dark images attributedtowards Islam. The book acts at a pivotal juncture to give aconscience trace of the growth of Islam in contrast to the otherreligions of the world. The great leader of Islam, Mohammad, andMessenger of Allah has a huge highlight in the book, as he is thecornerstone of the religion. The book takes a lead to demonstrate thegreat history of the religion with a purpose to illustrate how thereligion has been enlightenment over the years to promote theflourishing of liberties for the women in the society. More so, thebook aims to portray the religion as one that offers permission forthe followers to engage in arts and sciences to flourish them in thevaried communities. The author of the book digs in with a clearmotive to illustrate how the legacy of the progressive religion faceschallenges in the modern world as it tries to set itself aside fromthe fanaticism of other religions. Additionally, the Islamic faithtends to align with the current economic growths and the dynamics ofthe political systems of the world, in the perspective that most ofthe faith believers have a struggle with picking up modernity. Moreso, the Islam religion controls a huge percentage of the world marketfor oil and petroleum, yet, the development of modernity is still aslow shackle with the lack of provision for the rights of all of thepeople in the religion, specifically women and children.

Additionally,the thesis of the author has a strong attachment to declare therevelations and meanings of the Quran comparing to how the earlypeople of the religion mastered the words of their prophet Muhammad.The achievement of the revelation stands true from the fact that mostof the religion followers at that time were illiterate hence, themain learning process of the religion was from an act of recitation.An additional achievement of a thesis from the author of the book isthe explanation of the fundamentals upon which the religion lies. Theauthor believes the religion has an emphasis on living right overright belief. More so, the modern accomplishments of the world andtheir effect on modernity form a strong discussion point from theauthor of the book. The book pinpoints the effects of modernity onthe people living life as Muslims. The modernization process hits theIslamic world in an exploitative manner, opposite as compared to howmodernization occurs gradually in other parts of the globe. Theauthor is keen to point out that the exploitative nature ofmodernization reduces the Islamic nations to be “dependents blocsby the European powers” (Armstrong 2002).

Amongthe leading weaknesses in the book are the failures by the author toprovide accurate records of the events happening during the sproutingages of the religion. Among the wrongful representation of facts isthe author’s account of the breaking of the Hudaybiya Treaty. Theauthor states, “The Quraysh violated the treaty by attacking one ofthe Prophet’s tribal allies” (Armstrong 2002) but according tohistorical context, the Quraysh did not carry out the attack. One ofthe allies of the tribe called the Bani Bakr organized and executedthe assaults. Another misrepresentation is the excerpt she states onthe night before the second Christian millennium, the Crusadersattacked and killed thirty thousand Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem.However, according to accurate historical facts, the Crusaderkillings occurred in 1099, and the Millennium occurred in 999. Theauthor’s description of Malcolm X in the text lacks accuracy. Sheascribes that Malcolm founded the American Muslim Mission during hisliving years. However, the organization never existed until 1981, andthat was sixteen years after the death of Malcolm X. Critics questionthe intentions of the writer after the author mentions that theMuslims living in the Western nations with the Western modernity are“beleaguered and endangered” (Armstrong 2002). The question manyask to counter her statement is in the increasing numbers of Muslimsmigrating to live in the West over the years. If their lives wereindeed in danger, there would not exist the record numbers of Muslimsmigrating from their homes to settle in the West.

Inconclusion, the book achieves various intentions of the author byproviding the development of the faith in Allah and the ProphetMohammad. The history of the Islamic faith and relation of the faithwith the world acts as strength of the book. The author portrays analternative picture to the world that credits the existence of theMuslims in the world, despite the huge stereotype regarding theMuslims as violent, extremists, activists in civil wars, and femaleoppressors. However, the author records inaccuracies when presentingvarious imperative facts of Islam and the people associated with thefaith. The author then exempts the ideas she cannot account for,leaving a huge void to the reader of her book.


Armstrong,K. (2002). Islam: A short history. New York, NY: Modern Library