Frederick M. Denny's Islam and the Muslim Community and John Alden Williams's The Word of Islam contain some common concerns. The authors do, however, take different approaches on some topics. They also use vastly different source material.
Both books emphasize a certain difference between Muslim and Western modes of thought. Williams points out when quoting hadiths from collections of ad-Bukhari that “every mention of the Prophet in the originals is followed by the invocation ‘God bless him and give him peace.' It is omitted here because the effect for non-Muslims may seem repetitive and monotonous, but Muslims do not tire of repeating it” (56).
[...] These are the rank and file believers who are concerned to maintain and hand down as pure a version of the faith as possible They all unite around the central beliefs and practices of Islam as contained in the Qur'an and Sunna” (118). Denny is also quick to point out that while fundamentalists tend to be devout, devout Muslims are definitely not automatically fundamentalists (118-119). He also sheds light on a common misconception held by Westerners toward Islamic fundamentalism: fundamentalism does not equal fear of change. [...]
[...] Williams explains that the medieval sources he uses are still studied—and, some might argue, should still be followed (67). In his explanation of Sufism, Williams again employs historical sources. For instance, he uses correspondence between ‘Umar b. al- ‘Aziz and al-Hasan al-Basri to illustrate part of the background of Sufism (111). Williams clearly lies heavily on historical, rather than modern, sources. Williams's brief afterward is the one area in which he clearly employs modern works, given that he is explaining modern Islam (211-220). [...]
[...] For the traditionalists, return to Islam means a return to established rules which are not in any need of reinterpretation” (219). Williams's second grouping is that of neofundamentalists. This group is perfectly happy with modernization, provided that it is done in accordance with Islamic values. They claim the need for modern reinterpretations of the original religious texts—the Qur'an and Hadith—in the formulation of modern law. Williams writes that “they ordinarily emphasize the need for Islamic law in such matters as cutting off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, flogging for drinking, and segregation of the sexes in order to purify society and tend to speak of Islam as being an ‘ideology'” (Ibid). [...]
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