Islam: The Straight Path

Islam: The Straight Path
John L. Esposito
Oxford University Press
Religion; Islam; Politics; Quran; modern interpretations of Islam;


This exceptionally successful survey text introduces the teachings and practice of Islam from its earliest origins up to its contemporary practice. John L. Esposito, an internationally renowned expert on Islam, traces the development of Islam and its impact on world history and politics.

Lucidly written and expansive in scope, Islam: The Straight Path, Updated Fifth Edition, provides keen insight into one of the world’s least understood religions. It is ideally suited for use in courses on Islam, world religions, comparative religions, and Middle East history and culture.


Leila Fawaz, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy:

“The answer to every teacher’s prayer for an informed and balanced introductory book. Elegantly written, beautifully synthesized, and helpful.”

Philip Khoury, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

“A splendid introduction to Islam. Esposito paints over a wide canvas in depicting the emergence of the Muslim community, the varieties of Muslim beliefs and practices, the tensions between tradition and modernity, and the Islamic resurgence of recent years….A timely gem.”

Robert S. Kramer, St. Norbert College:

“The best and most obvious choice for courses on Islam, Islamic history, and Middle Eastern history. Well-written and accessible to undergraduates. The best English language text on Islam.”

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Muhammad and the Quran: Messenger and Message
    • Muhammad and the Muslim Community
    • Muhammad and the West
    • The Quran: The Word of God
    • Conclusion
  • 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
    • Theology
    • Islamic Law
  • 4. Modern Islamic Reform Movements
    • From Imperial Islam to Islamic Revivalism
    • Revivalism in Islam
    • Modern Islamic Movements
    • Conclusion
  • 5. Religion & Politics
    • The Islamic Resurgence
    • A Quiet Revolution
    • 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
    • Democratic Transition in Tunisia
    • Conclusion
  • 6. The Struggle for Islam in the Twenty-First Century
    • 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 Muslim Multifaith and Intercivilizational Initiatives
    • The Challenge of Pluralism for Western Secular Democracies
    • Conclusion
  • Timeline
  • Glossary
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index

Islam; Quran; Politics; modern Islamic reform movements; Prophet Muhammad; John L. Esposito; John Esposito; Oxford University Press;