A History of God (1993) traces the related histories of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim concepts of God. From the jealous God of the ancient Israelites to the revelations of Allah, and from the life of Jesus through to theological doctrinal discussions and God’s status in the modern world, these blinks tell the story of how conceptualizations of God in these three related religions have developed and changed over time.
Islam: A Short History (2000) charts the meteoric rise of Islam from its birth as a small sect in seventh-century Arabia to a global religion with just under two billion followers. What makes Islam unique among faiths, Karen Armstrong argues, are its refusal to postpone justice to the next world and quest to create the perfect society in the here and now. She follows this thread in her fascinating tour of 1,500 years of Islamic history.
The First Muslim (2013) details the incredible story of the prophet Muhammad, the first member of the Islamic faith. These blinks take you back to before Muhammad’s birth and tell the complete story of God’s revelation to this prophet, how he spread Islam and what his contemporaries thought of his ideas.
Living Presence (1992) explores how the teachings of the ancient Islamic practice of Sufism can act as a balm against our fractured, ego-driven age. Sufism teaches that an infinite spirit connects all life and that by becoming mindful of the here and now, we can glimpse this spirit in ourselves and others. Ultimately, in connecting to this presence we allow ourselves to become kinder, more intentional, and more alive. In short, more human.
The Muqaddimah (fourteenth century, first English edition 1958), a classic text on the Islamic history of the world, focuses on the rise and fall of civilizations. It offers a unique glimpse into the world of the fourteenth-century Arab Muslim, and is regarded as a foundational text in several academic disciplines.
Arabs (2021) is a deep dive into the 3,000-year history of the people we know as Arabs. It’s an exploration of the forces that gave birth to the idea of Arabs as a group – and the forces that have kept them apart ever since.
Myanmar’s Enemy Within (2017) examines a shocking outburst of violence against an ethnic minority – the Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar. Beginning with an account of the events of 2012 and 2013, these blinks work their way back to explain the historical context of anti-Muslim resentment in the country. Along the way, they explore the legacies of British colonialism, the rise of nationalism, and the country’s troubled transition to democracy.
Sex and the Citadel (2013) offers a revealing look at the sex lives of people in Muslim countries, especially Egypt, which, about 200 years ago, was a hotbed of sensual and sexual activity, but has since become a conservative and sexually repressed society. These blinks take you through the taboos, censorship and gender discrimination that many Muslims continue to resist.
Heretic (2015) takes an unblinking look at Islam and issues a call for reformation. By examining the fundamental scriptures of the Qur’an and Islamic law, we can find plenty of evidence to suggest that Islam has far too much justification for violence written into its core belief system. Find out why it’s not too late to change things and how the time might be perfect for an Islamic reformation.
Revolutionary Iran (2013) tells the story of modern Iran, from the early twentieth-century origins of the 1979 revolution through to reactions to Ahmadinejad’s second presidential victory, in 2009. The book also dispels misconceptions and examines internal politics and cultural debates within the country.
Causes of Rebellion in Waziristan (2015) takes the reader on a journey into the rocky terrain of this tiny South Asian region whose geopolitical influence reaches far beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. These blinks explore how the region became such a hotbed of insurrection and what can be done about it.