Reading List: Intro to Islam

What would an introductory reading list on Islam look like? Not for an academic audience, but for the educated lay reader? My suggestions:


Abou El Fadl, Khaled. Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2001.

Algar, Hamid. Wahhabism: A Critical Essay. 1st ed. Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2001.

Bulliet, Richard W. The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Ernst, Carl W. Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World. Islamic Civilization & Muslim Networks. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Firestone, Reuven. Jihad : The Origin of Holy War in Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Lawrence, Bruce B. New Faiths, Old Fears: Muslims and Other Asian Immigrants in American Religious Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Safi, Omid. Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender and Pluralism. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003.

Sells, Michael Anthony. Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations. 1st ed. Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 1999.

Wallace-Murphy, Tim. What Islam Did for Us: Understanding Islam’s Contribution to Western Civilization. Watkins, 2006.

North America:

Abdo, Geneive. Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.

Abdul-Ghafur, Saleemah. Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

Afzal-Khan, Fawzia. Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out. New York: Olive Branch Press, 2005.

Ahmed, Leila. A Border Passage: From Cairo to America–a Woman’s Journey. 1st ed. New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Bullock, Katherine. Muslim Women Activists in North America : Speaking for Ourselves. 1st ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

Cone, James H. Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream Or a Nightmare. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991.

Webb, Gisela. Windows of Faith: Muslim Women Scholar-Activists in North America. 1st ed. Women and Gender in North American Religions. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000.

X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. 2nd Ballantine Books hardcover ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999.

Iran and Iraq:

Alavi, Nasrin. We Are Iran. Brooklyn NY: Soft Skull Press, 2005.

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning Ii : More Girl Blog From Iraq.1st Feminist Press ed ed. New York: Feminist Press, 2006.

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning : Girl Blog From Iraq. 1st Feminist Press ed. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2005.

Political Science:

Abou El Fadl, Khaled, Joshua Cohen, and Deborah Chasman. Islam and the Challenge of Democracy: A Boston Review Book. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Abou El Fadl, Khaled, Joshua Cohen, and Ian Lague. The Place of Tolerance in Islam. Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.

Devji, Faisal. Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity. Crises in World Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005.

Dreyfuss, Robert. Devil’s Game : How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. 1st ed ed. Vol. American empire project, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2005.

Gerges, Fawaz A. America and Political Islam : Clash of Cultures Or Clash of Interests. Cambridge, UK ; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Kepel, Gilles. Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.

Kepel, Gilles. The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2004.

Little, Douglas. American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Mamdani, Mahmood. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004.

Roy, Olivier. Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. The Ceri Series in Comparative Politics and International Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.


‘Ashur, Radwá, and William Granara. Granada : A Novel. 1st ed ed. Vol. Middle East literature in translation, Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 2003.

Bill, James A., and John Alden Williams. Roman Catholics and Shii Muslims: Prayer, Passion, and Politics. Chapel Hill [N.C.]; London: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Kaltner, John. Inquiring of Joseph: Getting to Know a Biblical Character Through the Quran. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2003.

Khalidi, Tarif. The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Convergences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Mahfuz, Najib, and Peter Theroux. Children of the Alley. 1st Anchor Books ed. New York: Anchor Books, 1996.

Menocal, Maria Rosa. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain. 1st Back Bay paperback ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.

Not on CNN Islam:

Daftary, Farhad. A Short History of the Ismailis: Traditions of a Muslim Community. Islamic Surveys. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.

Ernst, Carl W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. 1st ed. Boston, Mass.: Shambhala, 1997.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003.

Hyder, Syed Akbar. Reliving Karbala : Martyrdom in South Asian Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Jalal al-Din, Rumi, and Coleman Barks. The Essential Rumi. San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1995.

Roberts, Allen F., Mary Nooter Roberts, Gassia Armenian, and Ousmane Guáeye. A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal. Los Angeles, Calif.: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2003.

Shah-Kazemi, Reza. Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali. Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2006.

Subhani, Ja’far, Reza Shah-Kazemi. Doctrines of Shi’i Islam : A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices. London ; New York London: I.B. Tauris Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2001.


Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

Islam: Empire of Faith

Inside Mecca

Frontline: Muslims

13th Warrior

Three Kings

Malcolm X

Kingdom of Heaven

The Crusades – Crescent and the Cross

The Crusades


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One thought on “Reading List: Intro to Islam

  1. I’m embarrassed that the only things on this list I have read are A Border Passage, The Kite Runner, and the Coleman Barks translations of Rumi. Clearly I have some work ahead of me. 🙂

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