The purpose of this book is to convey to a non-Muslim audience an understanding of Islam, its history, culture, and contribution to civilization.

The mix of an easy-to-read text and visual representations including maps, charts, pictures, and drawings with informative captions explains the important message of Islam in a way that the reader will hopefully find thoughtful and appealing. Relevant verses of the Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet (Hadith) have been included where appropriate, as support for the narrative, and their interspersing sets out their relevant importance. The Arabic text of the Qur'an was also included because no translation can do it justice.

Most of the Qur'an quotes were translated by me in reliance upon several published translations, especially The Holy Qur'an translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Khalil Al-Rawaf, 1946). My translation was done with a view to make the non-Arabic reader better understand the intended meaning.

This is both an informative and an artistic book which covers many aspects of Islam: religious, historical, geographic, social, legal, political, economic, cultural, scientific, and artistic. These aspects are dealt with in a way which at times may seem cursory but this does not forsake accuracy or depth.

The primary goal of this book is to inform those who know little or nothing about Islam and to enhance their understanding. As an educator that is all I can ask for and as a Muslim, that is all I can aspire to. But as a member of the family of humankind I would feel gratified if this book can lead to a better understanding among peoples of the world and thus contribute to peace and harmony in our universe. Whether all or some of these expectations will be fulfilled is some thing the reader will have to judge.

M. Cherif Bassiouni
Chicago, September 1988-H. 1409