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Islam, A Realistic and Sympathetic Portrait
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Bill A Musk
Touching the Soul of Islam (Crowborough, East Sussex, UK:  MARC, 1995.  256p.)

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Bill Musk writes as a Christian attempting to portray a sympathetic and realistic portrait of Islamic cultures for non-Muslims.  Musk's intent is to lay a basis for understanding and accurate communication.  This book appears to satisfactorily fulfill the author's goal.

He presents insights into the Arab and Muslim worldview, exploring primary values and moral commitments.  This book will assist readers who really want to know about the Arab ethnicities and Muslims as real people.

The author draws on portions of the Quran for insights into the Muslim psyche and values.  The historical context is rarely dealt with in popular writings and western ravings about Islam.

Often the Islam referred to in the papers and popular discussions cannot be found in reality, but is a portrayal based on ignorance and presumption.  Musk provides a reference in the real world.

Musk presents analyses and reflections from Muslim authors from several cultures, in which they portray common aspects of the life of Muslim people from within their experience.  An important aspect of Islam as a movement across the world is the variety and cultural differences among those who follow Islam.

The author includes many segments from popular novels or more academic writings by such authors within the Muslim community.  This will give readers an unusual insight into the thought of competent cultural insiders in various communities of the Muslim world.

Musk also includes perspectives of non-Muslims who have lived and worked for a long time among Muslims in their home cultures.  This book is well worth the modest cost.  It will remain a good reference to go back to again when new questions come up.

This book is a resource with honest insight into the world of Islam peopled by real human beings trying to make their way in life, just like the rest of us.  The book will be especially valuable for people of faith such as Christians who want to engage their Muslim neighbours in a meaningful way, rather than being victimized to the various stereotypes, positive or negative.

See my related series on Islam on this site; includes PowerPoint presentations:
[review] Arabs:  Self-Identity and Foreign Views
[review] Complex and Diverse Muslim Realities
[resource] Islam:  Its Life and Values
[review] Muslim and Christian:  Comparing the Paths
[review] Practical Peace
[Review] Practical Realities in North African Muslim Societies
[reviews] Reclaiming Islam from the Hijackers: The Real Islam Stands Up
[reviews] A Sufi Muslim Musician Suffers for His Faith
[review] Sumerians, Arabs and the Invading Coalition
[review] Why is This Happening?

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Initial reading notes written 3 January 2006
Finalized as an article and posted on OJTR 9 January 2008
Reviewed on Amazon 7 March 2009
Last edited 7 January 2013

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2008 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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