Recent Religion picks for March

Fresh off the printing press is a guide-book to Martin Luther’s Reformation locations, an introduction to a Buddhist approach to economics, and two books of special interest to Jewish readers.

Syndetics book coverMuslim integration : pluralism and multiculturalism in New Zealand and Australia, edited by Erich Kolig and Malcolm Voyce.
This collection discusses the future of religio-cultural pluralism, multicultural policies, and the growing demands for greater emphasis on assimilation. Contributors examine issues such as parallel societies, Islamophobia, radicalization, tolerance, adaptation and mutual adjustment, legal pluralism, the role of mosque architecture, and media depictions of Muslims are examined. (Drawn from publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Islamic Jesus : how the King of the Jews became a prophet of the Muslims, by Mustafa Akyol.
“Akyol exposes an extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Jewish Christianity and Islam–a major mystery unexplored by academia. From Jesus’ Jewish followers to the Nazarenes and Ebionites to the Qu’ran’s stories of Mary and Jesus, The Islamic Jesus will reveal links between religions that seem so contrary today.” (drawn from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuddhist economics : an enlightened approach to the dismal science, by Clair Brown.
Traditional economics measures the ways in which we spend our income, but doesn’t attribute worth to the crucial human interactions that give our lives meaning. Clair Brown, an economics professor at U.C. Berkeley and a practicing Buddhist, has developed a holistic model, which emphasises interdependence, shared prosperity, and happiness into her vision for a sustainable and compassionate world. This leads us to think mindfully as we go about our daily activities, and offers a way to appreciate how our actions affect the well-being of those around us.

Syndetics book coverAn atheist and a Christian walk into a bar… : talking about God, the universe, and everything, by Randal Rauser and Justin Schieber.
“Theology professor Rouser and YouTube personality Schieber offer complex, rigorous arguments that will challenge the thinking of believers and atheists alike…. They argue about whether testimony is valid evidence, what the major theological disagreements between religions suggest, what the creator’s seeming hostility to the universe means, whether the neat mathematical pattern of the universe proves intentional design, and how to best explain the problem of human suffering…” (From Publisher Weekly courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe story of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert.
Although found in the language section, this book will be of interest to religious scholars. It shares the history of the development of the Hebrew language until modern times, as well as how religions have imbued it with rich symbolic power.

Syndetics book coverThe genius of Judaism, by Bernard-Henri Lévy ; translated by Steven B. Kennedy.
Chapter headings include : The strength of the Jews ; Jewish France ; How modern Judaism abolished the idea of revolution ; The temptation of Nineveh. What does it mean to be a Chosen People? ; Thus spake Jonah ; The Ninevites of Ukraine and Libya ; Does God arrive as an idea or through faith?

Syndetics book coverMaking sense of God : an invitation to the skeptical, by Timothy Keller.
Timothy Keller invites skeptics to consider that as human beings, we cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope. Christianity provides us with unsurpassed resources to meet these needs. Written for both the ardent believer and the skeptic, Making Sense of God shines a light on the profound value and importance of Christianity in our lives. (Drawn from the publisher’s summary)

Syndetics book coverMartin Luther’s travel guide : 500 years of the ninety-five theses : on the trail of the Reformation in Germany, by Cornelia Dömer.
It’s often quite fun to set yourself a mission when travelling. If you’re planning a European trip, here’s an opportunity to make that mission places connected to Martin Luther – each town, castle, and church where the famed German preached, spoke ….. or fought. Travelers will find information on the historic towns of Dresden, Eisleben, Erfurt, Gotha, Leipzig, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Weimar, and Worms. Also includes stories about Luther’s life and work as well as maps, and timelines.

Syndetics book coverLive better : a book of spiritual guidance, by Sophie Golding.
“Your spiritual journey can take many forms, and it’s important to choose the path that’s right for you. This handbook will introduce you to traditions and practices with the power to open your heart and broaden your mind. Along with practical tips and enlightening quotes, the insights here are stepping stones towards a better life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAtlas of Christian history, by Tim Dowley ; cartographer, Nick Rowland.
“Concise, helpful text, written by acknowledged authorities, guide the experience and interpret the visuals. … The atlas is broken into five primary parts that correspond well to most major introductions to the topic. The final section on the modern era pays significant attention to the growth of Christianity as a global religion. Extensive maps are provided that illuminate Christianity in Asian, African, and Latin American contexts.” (drawn from the Publisher’s description).

Ramadan Mubarak!

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Ramadan started Friday 19 June. What does this mean for our Muslim community? Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and worship during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards by about eleven days each year depending on the moon.

Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Ramadan is thought to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting.

At the end of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr celebrates the conclusion of the month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fitr means “breaking the fast”.

Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need.

Have you visited our Popular Topics pages on beliefs? On the page we have for Islam you will find a cross-section of what the library holds on this religion, some quick links into our online databases and the library’s catalogue, and links to websites on Islam selected by our subject librarians. The Dewey Decimal call number for Islam as a subject is 297.

Some books on Islam recently added to our collection are

Syndetics book coverThe handy Islam answer book / John Renard, Ph.D.
“In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur’an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of Christianity and Judaism, including the monotheistic belief in a single God. Islam is too often confusing and even opaque to those unfamiliar with it. The Handy Islam Answer Book , is clearly and eloquently written by John Renard, Ph.D., a scholar of Islam with more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. He provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion. Renard explains the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur’an, Islamic law, and much more. This engaging primer is a resource for reliable information about Islam and Muslims and it brings an understanding of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them. Truly a must-have reference for our changing and trying times, this user-friendly guide answers nearly 800 questions and offers fun facts that cover Islamic history, religious practices, and Muslim cultural perspectives, including … * When did Islam begin? * Why is Mecca a holy city for Muslims? * Do Muslims worship Muhammad? * What was the fate of Medieval Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land? * What do Muslims mean by the term “Allah”? * What does the crescent moon and star symbol mean to Muslims? * What is the Muslim “call to prayer”? Is it similar to “church bells”? * Do Muslims believe that God “tests” people? * Does Muhammad play a role in Islamic spirituality in a manner similar to Jesus’ role in Christianity? * Is jihad a legal concept for Muslims? * Is it true that Muhammad both preached and engaged in military campaigns? * Do Muslims, Christians, and Jews worship the “same God”? * Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim parts of Israel/Palestine as “Holy Land”? * Why do some people, such as the Taliban, not want girls to get an education? * Does Islam require wearing face veils? * Does Islam have theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers? * Is there any similarity between Muslim and Christian art? Muslims are diverse, and they have a vast spectrum of views about Islam. The Handy Islam Answer Book aims for understanding, which is the first step to uniting, instead of dividing. This helpful books provides a historic timeline, a glossary of commonly used terms, a genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and beyond, a calendar of major observances, and a bibliography help further exploration of one of the world’s great religions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy way : a Muslim woman’s journey / Mona Siddiqui.
“Polarized debates about ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ are now so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget how damaging they can be. The vast majority of Muslims do not wish to see Islam used as a divisive force within the largely secular societies in which they live. How then can Muslim stereotyping be challenged? Mona Siddiqui is one of the foremost Western authorities on the reconciliation of 21st-century life and Islamic custom. In this new and searching book, she applies a uniquely probing intelligence, as well as a female sensibility, to crucial issues of faith and identity (such as wearing the veil) within society at large. While speaking from within a particular tradition, she touches on matters of universal concern. Who are we? How do we cope with growing older? What kind of world will we leave to our children? Placing her rich personal journey in a wider context, the author is able to explore love and sex, multiculturalism and diversity, and ageing and death through the prism of her experience as both a Muslim and a modern woman. Her book shows why she is one of the most vital thinkers of our age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIznik : the artistry of Ottoman ceramics / Walter B. Denny.
“Covering both Iznik pièces de forme and the famous Iznik tiles that decorate Ottoman imperial monuments, Iznik integrates the entire spectrum of Iznik production, both tiles and wares, and the broader artistic tradition in which it originated. Walter B. Denny begins with a description of the particular nature of Islamic art under the Ottoman empire, as well as the methods of the craftsmen who worked under the imperial auspices. He then examines the links between the court style of Istanbul and the ceramic ateliers in Iznik itself, and the crucial role of the dominant styles of the golden age of Iznik ceramics and their most famous creators, Shah Kulu and Kara Memi. The book showcases the array of motifs floral, vegetal and figurative used on Iznik wares, looks at the relationship between non-Muslim communities and the Ottoman empire, and closes with an examination of the rich stylistic heritage that Iznik ceramics have given to Western art. Lavishly illustrated in full colour throughout, this is a panoramic overview of a spectacular and refined artform.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt of Islam [electronic resource] / Gaston Migeon.
“Islamic art is not the art of a nation or of a people, but that of a religion: Islam. Spreading from the Arabian Peninsula, the proselyte believers conquered, in a few centuries, a territory spreading from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Multicultural and multi-ethnical, this polymorphic and highly spiritual art, in which all representation of Man and God were prohibited, developed canons and various motives of great decorative value. Thorough and inventive, these artists expressed their beliefs by creating monumental masterpieces such as the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Alhambra in Granada, architectural works in which one recognises the stylisation of motives of the Muslim ceramics. Lively and coloured, Islamic art mirrors the richness of these people whose common denominator was the belief in one singular truth: the absolute necessity of creating works whose beauty equaled their respect for God.” (Syndetics summary)