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Portrait of Islam: A Journey Through the Muslim World 
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Product Details 
168 pages 
Thames & Hudson 
Published 2002 
From Publishers Weekly 
This lavishly illustrated coffee-table book uses Laurance's compelling photographs to elucidate the tremendous diversity of the Islamic world. It is arranged geographically, with sections on North and West Africa; the Near East and Middle East; South Asia; and Southeast Asia (including Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation). Photojournalist Laurance has an appreciation of apparent paradox, as displayed in one particularly memorable image: a Jordanian woman, dressed from head to toe in black with no part of her face showing, sits in an outdoor café sipping coffee and chatting on her cell phone. Some of the photos show very clearly the variance of daily life from one Muslim nation to another; in one picture, an oil worker in Algeria stops work to observe midday prayers in the scalding desert, while in another, young men carefully drag firewood through the snowy tundra of Azerbaijan. The short captions help readers understand the photos' significance, but they never become obtrusive; one particularly useful caption explains that a pictured 800-year-old adobe granary has 114 storage rooms-one for each surah (chapter) of the Qur'an. Images of a very modern life (the Kuwaiti stock exchange, a family of five riding a single motorcycle in Lahore, Pakistan) are juxtaposed with other pictures that seem timeless. In one such photo, two young boys bend over a copy of the Qur'an, which they must learn by heart; in another, two old men slaughter a sheep for the feast of Eid al-Adha. 
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.  
From Library Journal 
These two illustrated volumes attempt to address the ongoing need for accessible books on Islam. Jordan (The Pagan Encyclopedia), a former broadcaster with a personal interest in religious anthropology, presents a readable introduction to Islamic history. Jordan divides his subject into manageable proportions, treating Islam's origins, the life of the Prophet, the Islamic empire, the Qur'an, worship, branches of Islam, holy places, and law. He renders the religion understandable by ... read more  
Book Description 
From Africa's Atlantic shore, through North Africa, the Middle East, Central, South, and Southeast Asia, to the far-flung Pacific islands of Indonesia, the Islamic world extends over a vast portion of the globe, embracing approximately one-fifth of the planet's population. Yet, despite the presence of substantial Muslim communities in North America and Europe, the Islamic peoples-their lands, history, culture, art, and faith-remain largely unknown, ignored, or misunderstood by much of the Western world.  
The wonderful photographs taken by Robin Laurance on his journey through the heart of Islam will do much to dispel such ignorance of the realities of Islam, its extraordinary achievements, and everyday existence. Here are the Bedouin of Oman's deserts and the stockbrokers of Kuwait; the dancers of the Turkish State Ballet and the shadow puppeteers of Java; a group of Friday worshipers in Kuala Lumpur and a solitary but equally faithful roadside worshiper in Saudi Arabia; the privileged blue-turbaned young men of Lahore's leading private school and the less privileged students of the Koran at a hidden madrasa in Karachi.  
The architecture shows equally striking contrasts in the grand mosques of Isfahan and Istanbul, the tiny private mosques of Indonesia and Kuwait, and the desert mosques of Arabia. While the high-rise plate-glass structures of the rich Gulf States reflect a newfound wealth, the extraordinary laval cone homes of central Anatolia mirror the ingenuity of a bygone age.  
Robin Ostle of Oxford University has written a valuable introduction, explaining the historical background and principles of Islam; the tenets of the faith; its place in law, state, and society; and its relation to the other two great monotheistic religions-Judaism and Christianity-with which it shares so many values. 154 color photographs.
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