The Dictionary focuses primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries,
stressing topics of most interest to Westerners. What emerges is a
highly informative look at the religious, political, and social
spheres of the modern Islamic world. Naturally, readers will find
many entries on topics of intense current interest, such as
terrorism and the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, the PLO
and HAMAS. But the coverage goes well beyond recent headlines.
There are biographical profiles, ranging from Naguib Mahfouz (the
Nobel Prize winner from Egypt) to Malcolm X, including political
leaders, influential thinkers, poets, scientists, and writers.
Other entries cover major political movements, militant groups, and
religious sects as well as terms from Islamic law, culture, and
religion, key historical events, and important landmarks (such as
Mecca and Medina). A series of entries looks at Islam in individual
nations, such as Afghanistan, the West Bank and Gaza,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the United States, and there are
discussions of Islamic views on such issues as abortion, birth
control, the Internet, the Rushdie Affair, and the theory of
evolution. Whether we are listening to the evening news, or reading
a book on current events, references to Muslims and the Islamic
world appear at every turn. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam offers a
wealth of information for anyone curious about this burgeoning and
increasingly important world religion.