Essential Islam
A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice
by Diane Morgan
November 2009, 263pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36025-1
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36026-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion. One in every five people on Earth is Muslim—roughly the equivalent of the population of China. And while the world knows all too well that some use their Muslim faith to justify acts of terror, those groups don’t begin to suggest the extraordinary breadth and historic and cultural legacy of Islam.

An introductory guide to the important elements of the world's largest religion, including the Quran, the Pillars of Faith, and the life of Muhammad, as well as Islamic history, customs and rituals, and contributions to world culture.

Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice is the ideal beginner’s resource on the core elements of a faith that, like Christianity and Judaism, offers a guide to holy living and a path to salvation—one that like other world faiths has inspired peace and war, tolerance and brutality, enlightenment and abysmal ignorance.

Essential Islam offers an insightful, objective look at Islam from its inception to the present day, including a discussion of Islamic beliefs about God, history, warfare, marriage, the afterlife, and the relationship between Islam and other faiths. It is a rich source for dispelling misconceptions—for example, only 10 percent of Muslims are Arabic, and only a quarter of those reside in the Middle East—and for understanding tensions between groups within and outside Islam. More importantly, it gives readers a portrait of Islam not as a religion of extremists, but as a dynamic living faith practiced by people of all kinds in virtually every corner of the world.


  • Introductory section provides extensive background and context
  • Frequent subheads maximize organization and ease of reading
  • Provides a helpful bibliography referencing print and online sources for further reading
Diane Morgan is adjunct professor of religion and philosophy at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. She has published nearly 40 books, including Praeger's Snakes in Myth, Magic and History: The Story of a Human Obsession, Fire and Blood: Rubies in Myth, Magic, and History, and From Satan’s Crown to the Holy Grail: Emeralds in Myth, Magic and History.


"Especially recommended for non-specialist general readers wanting a solid overview of one of the world's most prominent religions in general, as well as western students of Islam in particular, Essential Islam is a superbly presented history from inception of Islam under the prophet Mohammad, and through its various factions and evolutions down to the present day. . . . Essential Islam is especially appropriate and recommended for both academic and community library Islamic Studies reference collections."—Midwest Book Review, December 1, 2009

"Morgan (religion and philosophy, Wilson College) provides a beginner's guide to Islam, describing the core elements of the faith and Islamic practice, its historical development, Muhammad, Islamic law and cultural practices, different sects, its relationship to other religions, and beliefs about God, history, warfare, marriage, women, education, crime, and the afterlife."—Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2010
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