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Global Faith/Tradition


Tahir Mahmood

ISLAM IN THE WORLD TODAY: A HANDBOOK OF POLITICS, RELIGION, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY
Edited by Werner Ende  & Udo Steinbach
Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi, 2012, pp.1114, Rs. 1795.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 6 June 2012

Islam is the predominant religion of contemporary Africa and Asia and has a large following in Australasia, Europe and North America. According to reliable demo-graphic sources in as many as fifty-one nation-states scattered over the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe followers of Islam are in a majority—in as many as forty of them the Muslim population being above 80%. In many other countries of these continents Muslims constitute from a quarter to one-half of the population. And, then, there are several Muslim-minority states in Asia and Africa where the headcount of Muslims is much higher than in any of the Muslim-dominated countries—India with its 160 million Muslims being on top of such nations. In the West, while Europe is home to nearly 45 million followers of Islam, there are another about ten million in the United States. A cautious estimate puts the total Muslim population in the present-day world at 1.7 billion. According to some unofficial estimates the aggregate of Muslim population in Muslim-minority countries on the globe exceeds the total number of Muslims in all the Muslim countries taken together. In the present-day world thus Islam remains a force to reckon with and Muslim presence on the globe is indeed enormous. The West has always taken a keen interest in this global faith/tradition and has been since long producing theoretical studies and empirical works presenting various facets of Islam in its own way. Besides Britain, which has in the past ruled a large number of Muslim countries for long spans of time for which reason its interest in Islam is understandable, Germany too has been in the forefront in bringing out all sorts of books on Islam and the Muslim world. The book under review here is a recent addition to such literature. It was first published in the German language in Munich in 1984. Edited by two German professors, it is a bulky anthology of articles and country reports contributed by a large group of authors hailing from various back-grounds and covering the entire gamut of Islamic affairs including the situations in the contemporary Muslim world. The book when published was well received in the academic circles in the West as a storehouse of ideas and information about all aspects of Islam and the Muslim society and went into five editions in a short span of about two decades. An English version of the fifth edition published in 2005—various ...


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