Dodge, C. H. (2003). The Everything Understanding Islam Book: A Complete and Easy to Read
Guide to Muslim Beliefs, Practices, Traditions, and Culture. Avon, MA: Adams Media Corp.
Dodge’s (2003) The Everything Understanding Islam Book: A Complete and Easy to Read
Guide to Muslim Beliefs, Practices, Traditions, and Culture is a comprehensive guide to Islam, covering a vast range of topics in the Muslim faith system, including prayer, fasting, the importance given to prophets in the Muslim mind, oneness of God, and the day of judgment. The book further delves into contemporary topics related to the Muslim faith, for example, the meaning of jihad in Islam and whether fundamentalism is acceptable; and the relationship between the west and the assertion of Muslim faith. The author is well-versed in the subject. More importantly, the book is easy to read with large fonts for headers, E Alerts (for Essentials), and information that is not simply derived from books written on the same topics by scholars on Islam; rather, Dodge has drawn from the contents of popular books on spirituality and culture to give the impression that Islam is just another system of beliefs.
For example, Dodge discusses the “oneness of mankind” right after she has introduced the most essential Muslim article of faith, that is, “oneness of God” (p. 4). In this portion, she mentions respect for diverse cultures on the basis of equality before a single God. Seeing that diversity is a frequently mentioned topic in the United States, and the book was published in Massachusetts, Dodge makes an attempt to blend Islam into the culture of the readers. What is more, The Everything Understanding Islam Book appears as one of ‘Teach Yourself’ series of books and the ‘Dummies’ guides in its layout – making it even more accessible to readers well-acquainted with the two popular series. In other words, The Everything Understanding Islam Book is an easy to digest book for everybody who peruses it as a guide rather than a book that makes a statement to convert people to the faith. It could have been The Everything Understanding Nanotechnology Book and still be as accessible to contemporary readers.
There is a separate chapter for Jesus Christ in The Everything Understanding Islam Book: The Muslim Perception of Jesus (p. 1290-138). Before this chapter, Dodge introduces the two major sects among Muslims, that is, the Sunnis and the Shi’as (p. 108-109). She writes about the people of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians, and how they are related to Muslims through “Father Abraham” (p. 10). But, the book does not only make links with its readers through these interesting subjects and its layout as a popular, contemporary guide. The author introduces Islamic arts toward the end – arts being a useful connection with contemporary readers (p. 243-254). Unsurprisingly, the chapter on Islamic arts is immediately followed by a chapter discussing Muslim faith regarding scientific exploration (p. 255-267). This is perhaps the most important link forged between the book and the contemporary reader. After all, Islam is oft misconceived as a religion of bygone times without relevance for people of modern times, their lives at least partially dependent on modern technologies.
Indeed, the greatest strengths of the book, The Everything Understanding Islam Book are not only that it reveals Islam as an understandable faith but also the connections it makes between Islam and modern-day readers. The book is further accessible to young Muslims raised in both the east and the west. More importantly, The Everything Understanding Islam Book dissolves many of the misconceptions about Islam in the western mind to further eradicate prejudices that stem from misinformation and lack of knowledge about cultural beliefs other than one’s own.