The House of Islam

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

After listening to a History Extra podcast interview of Ed Husain in which historian Tom Holland repeatedly interrupted and talked over the author, I immediately went looking for book in question-- it was clearly the only way I was going to find out what Husain actually had to say. Link: https://www.historyextra.com/period/m... 

Holland, someone whose work on the ancient world I usually enjoy, was the writer and presenter of a controversial 2012 tv show called Islam: The Untold Story. The programme's most contentious arguments were that the Quran was probably not told in full to Muhammad by Allah and that Mecca probably wasn't Muhammad's home. The show caused numerous complaints and the validity of Holland's research was disputed (BBC News report: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainm...) As such, he was an interesting choice for an interviewer, though he had also written about the rise of Islam in his book In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World with less controversy. In one sense, I agree with Holland's point that any aspect of history should be open to investigation and debate, but there is perhaps a way to do it, and that does not include a deliberately antagonistic attitude. I talk about this only because in the podcast, Ed Husain takes the overly long questions, cutting in, and challenges with real grace. And that is exactly how he presents his own views and research in this book.

Islam is on fire- and the arsonist still lives there 

Detailed, intelligent, and evaluative, Husain's book offers a highly personal and engaging exploration of faith. This is about understanding what Islam has been and what it is now, with no sense of holding back on the horrors caused by sectarianism, especially the Sunni-Shi'a schism, the Salafist movement, or ideological extremism. Yet he also highlights and celebrates the devotion, compassion, and tolerance emphasised by the Prophet as the true heart of Islam. For him, the distortion of these essential values by political Islamists, extremists, and terrorists is a disease that can be treated, if both Muslims and non-Muslims act now. His suggestions might not offer the cure all many would wish for, impossible as that is, but his calls for connection with the founding principles of Islam and an outright rejection of space and protection for those violently acting against such ideas seem like a sensible start. 

It's a book that urgently confronts the dominant modern rhetoric that Islam is inherently destructive, aiming to replace misunderstanding and fear with knowledge and an open attitude. In the political and religious climate of today, it feels like essential reading.


ARC via Netgalley
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I was brought up Catholic but other religions have always intrigued me. Living in a cosmopolitan place like London, I feel lucky to have friends with different religious beliefs including Islam and I'm proud that in 2016 London has become the first major European city with a Muslim mayor. In the last two decades, Islam in the West has been judged, condemned and often portrayed as something to fear. Islam is largely misunderstood mainly due to the western stigma surrounding Islam associated with radical Islamists. However, there is a wide spectrum and differences in the Islamic practices between Muslim countries and while some adopt progressive thinking and equality, others sadly chose to go the other way. 

"Muslims are shaping world events and constantly feature in the news, yet few among us genuinely understand them, so that our behaviour tends to be based on ignorance at best, or half-truths at worse."

House of Islam is a well-researched book that provides a comprehensive overview of the history and theology of Islam starting with Islam's origin and Prophet Mohammed through to the differences between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims or the popularity of Sufism. The second part of the book focuses on Islam in the 21st century, including the formation of the radical group ISIS in the recent years and their destructive worldview. The chapters I found the most interesting and horrifying at the same time, were chapters on sexuality, and women and their status and position in the Muslim society. There are significant differences between Muslim countries in the perception of women. While over 90% of population in Turkey thinks men and women should have the same legal rights, in Saudi Arabia or Egypt the statistics are shockingly low at 61 and 57 per cent respectively. Unbelievably, "in seventh century Arabia, Muslims were among the most advanced of communities in terms of recognising women's human status and granting them right." Unfortunately that did not last. Today's Islamists in their determination to oppose the West and its feminism and women's liberation, promote prudishness and require women to cover up, arguing that the West is home to decadence and immorality. Sadly, they fail to realise it is the men themselves and their attitude that is the threat here.

The House of Islam was a very insightful read that I would recommend this book to everyone regardless of their faith.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 stars

The house of Islam is a fantastic read if you'd like to know more about the story of Islam, where it's at today and what this religion means for millions and millions around the globe.

👏🏻 I love how brilliant some parts were. Some of my opinions are similar to the author's but some bits really made me think and gave me more insight.

👍🏻 I love how nearly everything -from customs to laws and traditions- were explained in a simple, understanding manner.

👎🏻 I found some bits to be a bit too deep into their references. While I admired the precise work and the research behind it, I felt like 5 to 10% of the book was a bit too much information for the average reader.
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Absolutely necessary reading. Husain lays out what Islam is and its fundamentals, but also explains the gap between Islam and the west, how it grows, what it's led by and why it's a false gap built on lies. Reading this book would improve global relations by some margin. There is both expertise and empathy in this book, and everyone should sit down to  have a read.
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More than a summary of history of Islam and recognition of any creative voice existing in the modern Muslim world, this is Husain's opinion on it and on Muslims, lamentations and fears, with overemphasis on Shia faith, the battle at Karbala and Sufism and dangers of 'Arabisation' of cultures (without pondering over the e.g. black abaya worn by women in Iran), the Salafi/Wahabi influence on thought and creativity and the oft-repeated 'humiliation' Muslims are thought to suffer from after fall of various Empires.
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This book seems to be well written and well researched. It gives a very good insight into mthe worl of Islam. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in gaining some knowledge of Islam and its traditions etc.
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Over the last 50 years, the world has become a much smaller place. Add to this the availability of the Internet and we become "familiar" with all parts of the globe and the people and religions that exist there. Specific events can unduly influence our thoughts and misconceptions of the real world.
What I like about this book is that it takes a very straightforward position on Islam and the Muslim world offering up facts and insights that are rarely available in our world of soundbites and fake news. The reader is introduced to the true Islamic ideology and allows he or she to form their own opinions.
I recommend this book to anyone who is willing to take the time and effort to discover the facts for themselves.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Certainly an interesting and insightful read
You will learn so much from reading this book, it’s educates the reader about the Islamic religion.
Thank you to both NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for my eARC in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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To begin, House of Islam is searingly insightful, brilliant and remarkable. I wish I'd read this book many, many years ago. A few things I didn't agree with, but I realise this is not a factual book. It's not a dry biography, a university textbook. It is Ed Husain's knowledge of Islam, his experience gifted to us, a multifaceted interpretation of Islam that traces its roots from the beginning. Islam is endlessly complex, so much more than many people give it credit. 

I had the benefit of experience, being Muslim from birth with Muslim parents and connected to the Muslim community, having studied Islam and democracy in uni and doing a bit of my own independent research into Islam. I would have loved to read this as an outsider but unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I could not put my own experiences aside to view this book in an entirely unbiased light. My knowledge will always inform my interpretation of events, knowledge and my reading of texts. 

I attended an Islamic weekend school at ages 7 through to 10, three years at GIYC. I spent a further two years full-time at Islamic school in year 7 and 8. It was, in retrospect, very Salafi. We studied the Qur'an, Fiqh, Sunnah and Arabic, alongside other classes. My favourite lessons were always those regarding the history of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Sahaba, the Quranic stories of Maryam, Musa, Yusuf, Ibrahim. I loved learning about Khadija and Aisha. Until I was 20, in fact, I had never known that Aisha transmitted over 2000 hadith. We were never taught about the various schools of Islamic thought, the four caliphs and the califate of Islam. I learned all this in a class about medieval Iberia in uni (!!) 

This book gives a thorough overview of the history of Islam and its relevance in modern day, to us modern Muslims who seem so foreign to the West. I'd already ordered a copy of the house of Islam even before I'd received my requested copy from Netgalley, and it is a book I'll gladly claim and recommend to all my friends wanted to know more about my religion. Fans of Fatima Mernissi, Leila Ahmed and Amina Wadud will appreciate this book.
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This book is completely absorbing. Many Westerners have a tainted view of Islam, thanks to the actions of extremists who are in fact being unfaithful to the Quran. This book, written by a Muslim man who has suffered death threats.due to his work in establishing a think tank to disassociate Islam with immigration and radicalisation, presents an insightful history of the faith and looks at its current state across the world. Like many others, I have always associated the faith mainly with the Middle East - Arabised Islam, as the author calls it. The faith is far more widespread than that. The author also explains how Muslims look to the past for validation, and vision. The West can be too dismissive of this, but it is part of Islam's approach, and has much to recommend it. Look back before you look forward.

This compulsive book is a deep and detailed discussion of Islam, its past and its future. It's fascinating and certainly clears up many myths that all too many non-Islams tend to harbour.. It's a real eye-opener in that respect. .
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Having very limited knowledge about Islam and many Western misconceptions, I found particularly enlightening the information presented in this book. Husain wrote an easy-to-read account of some of the main facts about Islam pointing out some basic misconceptions which are widespread in the Western world. But the author is not afraid of speaking his truth either. He mentions what he thinks is wrong within the House of Islam and even suggests ways to address the problems and work for a better future.
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This was a fascinating and important book. I am really pleased I had the opportunity to read it. We are living in an age of misunderstanding, so I believe it is important that people seek out understanding of different ideas, cultures and ways of life.
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This was a fascinating and eye-opening book, written in a fluid and engaging style. It is a clear and concise introduction to understanding Islam and an excellent starting point for further research. It informs the reader exactly what Islam is and, just as importantly, what it isn't and it dispelled some erroneous beliefs I had about Islam. I really enjoyed learning about the founding of Islam and the history of Muslims through the ages. It also addresses the problems Islam faces in the modern era and how it could overcome them. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in world religions and/or current affairs.
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I learned so much reading this book - and I will read it several more times in the coming months to pick up the issues I missed this time round. It is a deep book but not too academic for a lay reader and a non Muslim. It feels like you are sitting with a wise friend chatting over a coffee and listening to someone who knows what they are talking about but doesn't condescend or make you believe you are listening to a lecture. He pulls off the difficult feat of being true to his beliefs while still quite challenging and allows the reader to understand some of the difficult issues around Islam and its relationship with the west. Lots about the Middle East and some of the political divides and their starting points.

Recommended if you are interested in learning more about this fascinating religion and its origins and why there are issues today.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest revie
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A fascinating insight it to Islam. I have not read a non fiction book like this for a while, so it took me a little while to get used to the style. However Once I did I found it was a very fascinating book. There is so much in the news about muslims, that it was interesting to see things from a different perspective.
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A highly readable insight into Islam: 
I have read many books on the Islamic faith: trying to understand the core beliefs and the faith's attraction to a rapidly increasing percentage of the world's population. "The House of Islam" offers a refreshingly different analysis of the strengths, weaknesses and future for Islam.  It also provide those who know little of the fundamentals of Islam with a firm grounding in its basic tenets. The author, Ed Husain, is a firm believer in the Faith and it seemed that for this very reason that the book was perhaps lacking a more critical examination of some of the religion's core: of The Quran itself and The Hadith in particular. "The House of Islam" is still a marvellous book, but I would urge readers to delve into other books on the same subject to gain a more balanced view on Islam.
Ed Husain concludes his book by making a convincing case for the foundation and funding of an A. E. U. in the middle-east as the way forward to prevent the polarisation of extremism currently dogging the faith. 
"The House of Islam" is a relatively short read at around 300 pages and yet I was amazed how much information Husain was able to cram into a book of this size.
I would definitely recommend it: once started I couldn't put it down. I read it in three sessions which, for a non-fiction book, is pretty good going for me. I didn't agree with Husain on many of the points made, but that's to be expected. Husain manages to make the reader thirst for more information and in that respect his book must be regarded as a success. 
So to conclude: an excellent introduction to Islam but use it as the basis for reading other books which contain different interpretations of the influence and future of Islam.
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A very interesting and informative book, also very wise.  Alarming too, yet ultimately hopeful.  A book that speaks a lot of sense and should be widely read.
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I feel a book like this is needed at this time. It urges people to real understand Islam rather than the islam that is portrayed on the news. It also answers a lot of questions that people may have about Islam. I found this book hard going and must admit I skim read parts of it however it was a worthwhile educational read and I am glad I have read it. I would recommend to family and friends.
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This is definitely a book I will dip in and out of as it is a lot more detailed than I expected, probably suited more to someone studying Islam rather than a genuine desire to have a greater knowledge of this religion. Very well written but not read it all and will probably space this out over the next few months.
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