Islamic World


Details of Muslim numbers from Pew foundation





 Militant Religions

 Ottoman empire

 Saudi Arabia

As a historical event, the rise of Islam was a surprise to those alive at the time. It completely changed the political landscape: the conflict between the two great empires which had dominated western Eurasia, Rome and Persia, came to an end. The Persian empire (Sassanid) disappeared after at least two thousand years. Instead, a new Arab empire dominated the Mediterranean and Middle East in only a century. A new cultural area replaced the Greek and Latin dominated west for a thousand years. Thinking about this event should make the historian realize how uncertain the future is, and how unexpected events can occur. The Muslims themselves were struck by a great unforeseen disaster in the form of Jenghis Khan.

Islam is the culture and religion which is associated with Mohammed. He was born in the trading city of Al Makkah in what is now Saudi Arabia. He claimed to be restoring the original practices of Mankind as once found among the Jews and Christians.

As with the rise of Christianity, the details of the early history of the religion are not available in an objective form. The external events are clear: the battles, the conquests of former Roman and Persian territories, the setting up of new states in their place, all of which were driven by the enthusiasm of a new religion.

The precise origin of the Quran itself is, in the terms of modern historical enquiry, a mystery, and much disputed by historians. The effects of the religion are clearer. Arabic became the dominant language of much of the area, replacing Aramaic in what is now the northern Arab world, Greek in the former Roman areas of the Levant and Latin in the western areas of North Africa. Scholarship revived, especially philosophy and science, in the new Muslim empire, liberated from the inhibition by Christian theologians.

In the time of Mohammed the new religion became a state headed by the prophet himself, covering the area of modern Saudi Arabia as far as the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. This new state brought together settled states, such as those in south Arabia, and the Persian colonies on Bahrain, as well as the nomadic tribes. This in itself was unprecedented as the Arabs had never before formed a single political community able to work together.

His successors, the Khalifs, were able to use the enthusiasm (group feeling) of this united community to send out armies to conquer the surrounding states They went north into the Arab client kingdoms maintained by the Romans and the Persians and then into the Levant, conquering the Roman provinces. Then they went into the Roman province of Egypt. The armies swept westward into the Maghreb, reaching Morocco and ending Byzantine and German rule in north Africa, which the armies of Justinian (see Rome) had spent so much time and money reconquering only a generation before.

To the east they conquered Persia and its empire reaching as far as the fringes of modern Afghanistan.

At the end of this period there was a Khalif in Damascus (Esh Sham) in theory ruling the whole area from the Atlantic to Afghanistan. Meanwhile the religion had split into two parts. The majority followed Muawiyah and the Ommayad Khalifate and became labelled "Sunni" - followers of the Custom. Their theory was that the community should be ruled by "the most pious". The others believed that the ruler should be a descendant of Mohammed, perhaps because they believed that there was a more private doctrine taught by the grandsons of the Prophet. These have become known as the followers of the Shiah - the party. In effect there were then two parallel religions with the same ceremonies and beliefs.

As time has passed the two religions have diverged. Shi'ites have a hierarchy, not unlike the Zoroastrians they replaced, or the Christians who had imitated the Persians. Sunni have no recognised hierarchy but follow an informal authority of such places as the scholars of Al Azhar university in Egypt.

The political structures of the new empires were improvised and owed little to the previous states, Rome and Persia. However, after the Damascus Ommayads were overthrown by a revolt in Baghdad the center of the Khalifate moved further east into the former Persian area. Many of the civil servants of the Abbasid Khalifate were Persians who introduced some Persian habits of administration. They also introduced the idea of hierarchy of priests from the Magian Church (which had also been imitated by the Roman churches).


 Islam as a religion is generally thought to have been started by the prophet Mohammed. However, although he left advice on such things as prayer, and charity, he gave no advice about politics. He does not seem to have thought the Muslims would have formed a special kind of state. He was concerned with their behaviour in praying and thinking about god. While he was alive he resembled a cult leader.

Islam grew in an area with very weak government - modern Saudi Arabia where there were city states such as Makkah, run by informal councils of merchants. There were also kingdoms in the area. Many of the new Muslims were beduin from nomadic groups who had an informal leadership. Others were townspeople.

When he died the group of Muslims in Madina (city of the prophet, formerly Yathrib) had to decide who would rule them in his place as successor (Khalif= deputy). There were a group of four Khalifs in Madina, who step by step became more like rulers and less like religious leaders. Muhammed is said to have been a humble man living in an ordinary hut. His successors soon began to live like kings. Abu Bakr remained fairly humble but Othman and Omar began to become rich and favoured their relatives. Under these leaders Muslim Arabs had burst out of Arabia itself and begun to conquer the territory of the Roman and Persian empires.

The last of the Madina Khalifs was Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed (he had married Mohammed's daughter). He was soon overthrown by a faction led by another of Mohammed's relatives, Muawiyah, who led a military revolt from Damascus. This of course was the usual means by which a new ruler came to power in the Roman empire. Thus the new Omayyad dynasty that ruled from Damascus resembled Rome in that way. That dynasty ruled for about 90 years and was then overthrown by the descendants of Mohammed's uncle Abbas. The Abbasids ruled from a new city near the old Persian capital of Ctesiphon. It was called Baghdad (gift of god).

The similarity with Rome is thus that there were no limits on the power of the ruler, other than military revolt.

As Mohammed laid down no rules on rulership the author sees no reason why modern Muslims should not use modern democratic methods as seems likely to happen in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Lets hope so.

Spread of Islam

Interesting Reading

Frithjof Schuon - Understanding Islam (London Unwin 1963)

Den Islam verstehen

Aatish Taseer - Stranger to History

Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands

Terra Islamica: Auf der Suche nach der Welt meines Vaters

Etranger à mon histoire : Le périple d'un fils en contrée musulmane

Sadakat Kadri - Heaven on Earth: a journey through Sharia law

Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law

Review by Aatish Taseer

Tom Holland - In the shadow of the sword

New book
Adverse review


  • 570c Birth of Mohammed
  • 602 Persian invasion of the Roman Empire
  • 610c Mohammed's first revelation (26-27 Ramadan)
  • 613c Abu Bakr recruited to Islam
  • 616 Persians occupy Roman Egypt and Anatolia, and expelled at great expense
  • 24 Sept. 622 Hijra - Mohammed escapes from Makkah to Madinah
  • 624 Battle of Badr
  • 625 Battle of Uhud
  • 628 Assassination of Chosroes; end of war between Byzantium and Persia
  • 629-30 Return to Makkah; beginning of annual Muslim pilgrimage
  • 8 June 632 Death of Mohammed, Khalifate of Abu Bakr
  • 633 Invasion of Palestine
  • 634 Battle of Babylon (near Ctesiphon)
  • 634 Death of Abu Bakr, Khalifate of Umar
  • 636 Fall of Roman Damascus
  • 641 Fall of Roman Egypt
  • 644 Khalifate of Othman
  • 652 Death of Yezdigerd, last Sasanian emperor
  • 656 Assassination of Othman. Khalifate of Ali, revolts of Muawiyah, Kharijites
  • 661 Death of Ali, beginning of Shi'ism
  • 661 Omayyad Khalifate at Ash Sham (Damascus) begins
  • 711 Tariq crosses into Spain at Jebel al Tariq (Gibraltar)
  • 712 Conquest of Sind (India)
  • 714 The crossing of the Pyrenees
  • 732 Battle of Poitiers; block to Muslim advance in France
  • 750 Abbasid revolt; end of Omayyad Damascus monarchy
  • 755 Foundation of Omayyad Khalifate in Spain.
  • 762 Foundation of Baghdad (Persian for "Gift of God"), seat of the Abbasid Khalifate

The Muslim empire ruled by the Khalifs (= Deputy or successor) continued but gradually broke up, much as the British Empire gradually devolved power to the dominions. Haroun (Aaron) al Rashid (the Upright) was the last powerful Baghdad Khalif. Power moved from the Khalifs to other powerful men, the Barmak Viziers (Wazir=minister) (descendants of the Buddhist Parmak priests of Balkh) and later the Turkish army commanders. The end came in 1258 when the Mongol horsemen led by Jenghis Khan broke out of the central Asian steppes and destroyed Baghdad and almost the whole area to the east. The centers of Muslim culture moved to Egypt, Morocco and the survivors in Afghanistan and the nearby areas. The central areas, now Iran, Iraq and Syria and Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan) never wholly recovered the vigor of the culture of the early Khalifate, though the Mongols were converted to Islam and, as the Moguls, invaded India and created the Mogul Empire. Central Asia came under the control of the Turks until 1918 (see Ottomans) and also the Russians and the Soviet Union.

Eventually the term Khalif became merely a title of the Ottoman Sultan, until it was abolished by Ataturk in 1920.

The origins of modern European scientific culture can be seen in the journeys of European scholars to Islamic Spain, and especially to the school of translators at Toledo, in the 11th century. A surprising amount of western culture can be traced to influences from the Islamic culture. Some of the texts in Toledo had originated in Bokhara.

The rise of Islam is one of the most astonishing events in human history of the last 2000 years, replacing two ancient Empires - Rome and Persia - and creating a unified cultural area from Spain and Morocco in the west to Afghanistan in the east (India and Indonesia came later).

Hugh Kennedy

Not all Muslims use Arabic as their home language. Important regional languages are:

  • Urdu - Pakistan and India
  • Bengali - Bangladesh
  • Farsi - Iran, Afghanistan and Tadjikistan
  • Indonesian and Malay
  • Swahili - Eastern Africa
  • Hausa - northern Nigeria and neighboring states
  • Pushtu - Afghanistan
  • Turki - Turkey and former Soviet Central Asia.

These may be written in Arabic script but belong to non-Arabic language families. Swahili, Hausa, Indonesian (Malay) and Turki are now usually written in Roman script. Arabic remains, in theory, the language of theology, but few Muslims actually know the language, or have read the Quran in the original language. This may account for the rise of intolerant versions of Islam that contradict the Quran and Hadiths.

The Muslims ruled from the Pyrenees to Khorosan (Afghanistan).

 The Quran

In theory the Quran cannot be translated as it depends on complex wordplay in a language rather different from other languages with different grammatical and lexical structures. However, there are "versions" in other languages, some better than others. (Beware of the official Wahhabi version in English that introduces messages about Jews and Christians not present in the original)

From a Guardian Review of new translation of Quran

"So this translation is a quantum leap ahead of the old Penguin version. But it also has a rather special character. Khalidi is not interested in providing the context of the verses of the Qur'an. We therefore do not always know who the Qur'an is addressing at various junctures or who is speaking to whom in its internal dialogues. Here M Abdel-Haleem's translation (OUP, £7.99), published in 2004, is more useful. Neither is Khalidi all that concerned with providing the reader with help. Footnotes, for example, would have been useful for occasional explanation of what is happening in a particular passage. Instead, he takes a rather unusual attitude to the Qur'an. It is "a bearer of diverse interpretation", he says; and its ambiguities are deliberately designed to stimulate thinking. Let the reader be "patient of interpretation" and read at will. All that is needed is to approach the text with sympathy."

The fanatics do not believe in ambiguities by which, as it is often stated, every reader or hearer understands according to his state of mind - something true of all great literary texts. (See How to study literature)

M A S Abdel-Haleem - The Quran

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
Ziauddin Sardar - What do Muslims believe?

Most Muslims can't read the Quran

Ziauddin Sardar - Reading the Quran

Reading the Qu'ran
Review of "Reading the Quran"


There are two main varieties of Islam: Sunni and Shi'ite. The basis of the Sunni belief is that "the most pious" should be the leader of all Islam. This implied a measure of democracy, at least while the Muslim community was a small compact group. But in practice the leadership has gone to whoever can organize an army to seize it ever since the governor of Damascus, Muwaiyah, seized power in 661 and founded the Omayyad Khalifate.

The Shi'ites believe that the leader (Imam) should be a descendant of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed. This implies a hereditary succession and Shi'ites recognize up to twelve succeeding Imams. Since the death of the twelfth Imam the position is vacant, though some believe the legitimate Imam is merely unknown to the community (hidden).

In practice Shi'ites have developed a structure of what westerners recognize as "Clergy" - though they are perhaps lawyers and preachers rather than priests as they don't conduct ceremonies. Shi'ites also have a number of ceremonies not used by Sunni Muslims including self-mutilation and they value death in battle as martyrs to emulate Hussein and Hassan the sons of Ali, killed in battle against the supporters of Muwaiyah. It can be easily supposed that the structure of the Shi'ite "Church" is a continuation of the Mazdaist or Zoroastrian Church, with its hierarchy of clergy - clearly also an influence on the Christian Church.

Both parties are found everywhere in the Islamic world but Shi'ites at present control only Iran. They are strong in the southern part of Iraq. They are also the majority in some of the Islamic parts of the former USSR. In the past there have been Shi'ite states in Yemen and the mountains of Oman. The Fatimite Khalifate of Egypt and North Africa was a variety of Shi'ism. From it descends indirectly the community of the Ismailis headed by the Aga Khan.

Map of Shia majority areas. Note that there are important Shi'ite populations in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, who may feel they are oppressed.

In the United States the "Nation of Islam" does not seem to have any connection with Islam as known in the rest of the world, though its doctrines may be becoming more orthodox.

Karen Armstrong

 Schools of Law
Another distinction is between those schools of thought which favor interpretation of the Quran and Sayings (Hanafites) and those which require literal understanding (Hanbalites). The Saudi Wahhabi are Hanafites, whereas the Taliban follow the Hanbalites. Interpretation may include the ideas of those who see the Quran as including a mystical vision (Sufism). In Saudi Arabia the literalist variety (Salafi) derived from Abdul Wahhab (18th century) is the official doctrine of the state.
The descendants of Mohammed, through his daughter Fatima and son-in-law Ali form a clan or family throughout the Islamic world. The Saiyids or Sharifs (= Prince) - also Qureshi - have often been rulers of states (though most of course are not). At present Hashemite rulers are found in Morocco, Jordan and recently in Iran and a recent temporary president of Pakistan. Some of the traditional sultans of Malaysia also belong to the family. (The British royal family can claim descent from Mohammed, via Portugal). Curiously, the Sharifs are mostly Sunni, though it is the Shi'ites who would logically claim that the "Hidden Imam" must be a Hashemite. Could a reconstruction of the Middle East take place under Hashemite leadership?
 Political Integrity?
Does the Islamic world possess a political integrity? There is an Organization of the Islamic Conference to which all the countries in red belong, as well as some in green. However, it does not exert much influence in determining the policies of the member countries, some of which have large Christian minorities (especially Nigeria). The oil rich Gulf countries give preference to the other Islamic states in their aid policies. Moreover, there are important conflicts between Islamic countries: Libya v. most others; Iran v. the Sunni monarchies; Syria v. Iraq and its allies.

 New Crusade?
Is there, as some assert, a Christian-Muslim conflict? Some religious fundamentalists on both sides assert that there is (Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, Taliban in Afghanistan and the Iranian Shi'ites; some Christian fundamentalists in America; Serbs). However, there is little evidence that western governments are motivated by any religious considerations, either positive for Christianity or negative against Islam. The United States has been hostile to Iran, but not so much from Iran's religious policies as from its own professed hostility to the US, its leaving the alliance of pro-western countries and its taking of hostages from the US embassy 1980 and attempts to create a Great Power status (and the west's loss of control over Iranian oil) and use of terrorism. In Afghanistan America has previously supported the guerrillas some of whom became Taliban who have similar ideals to Iranian Muslims but were opposed to the Soviet Union. These are secular interests.

There may be a danger that following the end of the Cold War those who benefited from the militarization of western society may wish to whip up the masses into seeing militant Islam as the new enemy to replace Communism. Is the west strong enough? Cooperation seems to be the only sensible solution.

Such events as the war in Bosnia lead some Muslims to believe that westerners will act in defense of oil but not of Muslims' rights (but the west did act in Kosovo). The wars in Iraq tend to confirm this view.

Karen Armstrong - Holy War

Im Kampf für Gott

 Osama bin Laden

Where does Osama bin Laden fit in this picture?
The dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul Wahab, an 18th century preacher. He rejected many cultural elements that other Muslims accept. He was hostile to literature, architecture, music and what he called 'innovations'. Some have suggested that the form of Islam practised there is the analogue of the very strict Christian sects of the Western Isles of Scotland, which also are suspicious of the arts and all forms of pleasure, and of the so-called Fundamentalist Christian sects of the United States, similarly hostile to most of human culture.

Wahabism is a Puritan and fundamentalist group which rejected much of the later developments of Islam and claimed, like all fundamentalists, to be going back to the original teaching of the Prophet, though Abdul Wahab rejected the tolerance of the Prophet for Christians and Jews (people of the Book) - and the mystical teaching (Sufism). This sect has supported the Saud family in its control of the country. In return the Saud family funds the Wahhabis and their overseas missions lavishly, thus outspending the more moderate and traditional versions of Islam.

It is this sect that is growing in some parts of the world and is encouraging its members to become violent resisters, and to hate non-Muslims (and indeed non-Wahabis). Their influence has spread to India and Pakistan where the related Deobundi sect also pursues narrow anti-modern teachings. The Wahhabi supply Imams (preachers) to many Mosques in western countries. Worryingly, so do the Deobundi in Britain, organising intolerant schools.

Osama bin Laden was a keen supporter of this narrow and intolerant vision and enthusiastically supported its imposition on Afghanistan, historically a more tolerant area, by the Taliban (mainly Deobundi).

The reason for the attractiveness of this cultish form of Islam have been much discussed. Some say it is a reaction to the dominance by western powers from the late 19th century, when most Muslim countries were under the colonial control of the European powers - especially the British Empire. Other possibilities are the interests of a "priesthood" that values its own methods of learning, even though these have little relevance to the modern world. Quran schools usually require children (mainly boys) to learn the sounds of the Quran by heart, without teaching either Arabic or the meaning.

This narrow and fanatical version of Islam is dominant in Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. It is being propagated in Egypt, Indonesia, Algeria and several other areas. Many governments of mainly Muslim populations experience the propaganda and the organisation of terrorist groups.

What does the Quran really say about Jews? Here is an article.

James Kritzeck - Anthology of Islamic Literature

Article on Extremist Islam by Hassan Butt.

(Butt claims to be a former extremist but has been arrested on suspicion of dissimulation).

The Middle East for Dummies

Peter Bergen - Manhunt - the ten year search for Osama bin laden

Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad

Die Jagd auf Osama Bin Laden: Eine Enthüllungsgeschichte
Guardian review

Other religions
According to the Quran, Muslims are supposed to respect Jews and Christians whom they recognize as belonging to the same tradition of Prophets. The Quran includes references to Abraham, Moses and Jesus as predecessors of Mohammed and deliverers of the same message. Christians and Jews do not usually reciprocate the respect. Hostility to Israel is based on its political presence and the ideology of Zionism rather than on Judaism as a religion.

Derived religions
On the other hand there is a specific denunciation of "idols" which are best understood as things unworthy of attention or worship. This is taken by both Muslims and Hindus as hostility to Hinduism. When Muslims ruled India, however, there is the example of the Moghul prince Darah Shikoh who tried to show that the origin of Hinduism was similar to Islam's (from the Aryans who passed through Afghanistan). However, he was executed for his work as an apostate. There is still considerable hostility between fundamentalist Muslims and Hindus. Sikhism began as another attempted reconciliation between the Hindu founder and Muslim ideas. Bahaism also derives from Islam and is persecuted in Iran. In Palestine, Syria and Lebanon there are Druzes, another derivative religion; and in Syria and northern Iraq there are Yezidis, derived from a Sufi teacher, Sheikh Adi, and so, post-Islamic. In Pakistan there is the derived religion of Ahmaddiyah, followers of a preacher who declared himself a Prophet. These too are persecuted in some Muslim countries, but have missions in western countries.

Contemporary Politics
Apart from Iran no Islamic government appears motivated by religious considerations. In the Kuwait war the Iraqi government of the late Saddam Hussein could be categorized as secular or even hostile to religion, and on the opposing side there were both Christian and Muslim states. Despite some activity by fundamentalists of all religions, in the eastern world as in the west, religion is primarily a private and cultural matter which does not appear to affect international relations.

Saudi Arabia may be the exception where only the Quran and the Shariah law based on it is the constitution of the country. This kingdom includes the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah where no non-Muslim may enter. The government gives aid to other Muslim countries for the building of mosques and other religious purposes (including the London Central Mosque). It is believed to be financing some of the extremist religious parties such as the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria and various organizations in Egypt, and the ferocious fundamentalists of Afghanistan, largely foreign to that country's traditions. But its Wahhabi version of Islam is not necessarily endorsed as orthodox by other Muslim authorities (though its money may make criticism rather rare). Nor of course is the Twelver Shi'ism of Iran. The Twelvers recognize 12 Imams - ruling descendants of Mohammed through his daughter Fatima and his son in law Ali. (Other varieties of Shi'ism - in Yemen and Oman - recognize shorter sequences of Imams.)

It is not unknown for fundamentalist Sunnis to accuse the Shi'ites of being non-Muslims. Perhaps they should be recognised as two closely related religions

Book of Strangers

A non-Wahhabi interpretation.

Why do Muslim states differ so much?
The political problem is that Mohammed did not leave a detailed political program. No characteristic Islamic state was defined. The pragmatist may say therefore that any form can be used, including the modern democratic form. However, the fundamentalists tend to reject this, which makes them in western eyes, apologists for dictatorship and a quasi-fascism. In Iran, called an Islamic Republic, there are elections but only for candidates who have been pre-selected by the ruling oligarchy of "clergy", who are not subject to popular election. Even then, the results have been falsified. Since the foundation of the Omayyad Khalifate the most characteristic form of state has been the military dictatorship, similar to the Roman Empire. Until very recently this has still been the form in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and others. None of the Islamic states could be classified as democracies in the western sense, though Yemen has had free elections (followed by civil war). Indonesia, with the second largest population of Muslims, has had elections since the fall of Suharto. Iraq has had elections following the American invasion. Lebanon has elections, but of a rather curious kind, similar to those in Northern Ireland where the elected members represent sects rather than economic interests. Jordan also has elections.

It should not be necessary to say that Islam as a religion is no more sympathetic to terrorism than Catholicism is, despite Northern Ireland and Croatia. Even if terrorists claim to be fighting for Islam, there is no need to take them at their word. Most Muslims, like most Christians, are peaceful people. There is nothing in Islam to encourage terrorism, though as in much of southern Europe (Italy, Albania, Greece) there is a popular belief in revenge.

However, the Wahhabis' cult-like uncompromising hostility to the world outside Arabia has introduced a strain that may be encouraging terrorism. Osama bin Laden was brought up in this tradition, which was was strengthened by his experiences in fighting the Soviet invaders of Afghanistan. Many Muslims see the American and British attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq as a new Crusade against Islam (clearly, so do some fundamentalist Christians in the United States).

Some Muslims living in the western countries appear to share this hatred and have been motivated partly by Osama and his associates to attack. There may be a danger that they become a resident guerrilla force in the western countries. If so, difficult times lie ahead.

The custom of veiling women is an innovation not present in the time of Mohammed but imitated from Syrian Christians. It is possible that the position of women is worse than it was in the time of Mohammed, though Muslim (men) assert that Mohammed improved their status during his lifetime. Women's rights vary throughout the Arab and Islamic world. They tend to be best in the secular dictatorships: such as Iraq under the secular Baathist regime, and formerly in communist South Yemen; worst under the religious regimes, such as Saudi Arabia and the former Taliban. In Iran they are constantly under threat, but not necessarily as bad as some westerners claim.

Ayesha Musa
Hadith as scripture

Many of the extreme Islamist positions are based not on the Quran itself but on Hadiths - stories about the Prophet. It is by no means certain that many of these Hadiths are in fact authentic (really spoken by Mohammed) and many of the more obnoxious features of the extremists' beliefs and practices are based on especially doubtful Hadiths. Of course part of the problem is that study of the actual Quran has fallen into the hands of professionals because most Muslims don't understand the classical Arabic in which it is written, and many Muslims know no Arabic at all.

The Egyptian novelist Alaa al Aswani on Islam and its reputation in the west

Kenan Makiya What is the real history of Islam? Is the accepted story accurate?
Origin of Quran (Although there are questions about the origins of the Quran, we should note that there are also questions about the origin of the works of Shakespear. Thinking about such matters is a part of the work of the historian.)

A hostile view of Islam

Moderate Islam web sites

 Foundation for Self-Reliance



Alliance of South Asians Taking Action

 Progressive Muslim Union

 University of Georgia

The author has lived, worked and travelled in several countries where Islam is important culturally: Kenya, Nigeria; Saudi Arabia; South Yemen; Iraq.

Last revised 16/06/12



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