A refreshingly evenhanded look at Islamic theology.

The All-Embracing Message of Islam

An argument for a more inclusive and merciful interpretation of the Muslim religion.

Debate over the doctrinal content of Islam has reached a fever pitch, and it often resembles contentious punditry more than careful scholarship. Abu Groon (The Remedy of Souls, 2016, etc.) takes a more moderate, learned approach, carefully mining the pertinent literature for a comprehensive view of the Prophet Muhammad’s message. He argues that any serious consideration of Muhammad address not only the totality of his delivered message, but also the moral example he provided; the ultimate point of the prophet’s ministry, Abu Groon says, was the elevation and refinement of moral virtues. This specifically entails the primacy of ethical behavior over mere ceremonial observance; the zenith of Islamic practice, he says, is moral conduct rather than a strict adherence to custom. Also, he points out that Muslim theology is remarkably inclusive if one focuses on the plain text of Muhammad’s message; a more faithful interpretation of the prophet’s teachings, he says, would eliminate theological acrimony between Abrahamic religions, as the Quran confirms the significance of both Moses and Jesus as legitimate prophets. Indeed, the author goes much further than most others in blurring the lines of distinction between them: “In fact, Judaism, Christianity, and Sabianism are subtitles under the umbrella of the all-embracing Islam similar to Shiites and Sunnis in the religion of Muhammad (PBUH); and Catholics and Protestants in the religion of Jesus, peace be upon him, and all of them are Muslims.” The dominant theme of this work is the mercifulness of God, as demonstrated through the example of Muhammad’s own displays of virtue. Abu Groon’s book is more like a theological essay than a full-length monograph—it’s barely more than 75 pages long. However, his writing is accessible and delightfully free of technical jargon, as he makes his arguments largely by referencing the plain language of the Quran. He also argues for considerably more tolerant understandings of the status of women, Islamic law, and even the nature of preaching. Overall, this study is a welcome model of rigorous and temperate discussion, and current debates might be greatly improved if it reached a wide audience.

A refreshingly evenhanded look at Islamic theology.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5144-9973-3

Page Count: 78

Publisher: XlibrisUK

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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