The essential guide to one of the world's most diverse and fascinating faiths, with a Foreword by Amartya SenK. M. Sen discusses the evolution of Hinduism's central systems of belief and codes of conduct, as well as popular cults and sects such as Bhakti, Tantrika and the mystics of North India, and describes the varying incarnations of its supreme deity, Krishna and Rama among them.
He recounts its history from the Indus Valley civilization c.2500 BC and the Vedic age nature gods to its relationship with Buddhism and Jainism and the impact of western culture. And he describes the day-to-day practice of Hinduism - customs, festivals and rituals; the caste system; and its philosophies and exponents. The author's grandson Professor Amartya Sen brings his work right up to date, examining the role of Hinduism in the world today.
While there have been a number of successful books on the topic of Islamic history - from Karen Armstrong's Islam: A Brief History to Bernard Lewis's The Crises of Islam - there is surprisingly no book for a popular audience about Islam as a religion, let alone one by an author from an Islamic background. *No God But God fills that gap, addressing issues of belief: the difference between the Quran and the Bible, the meaning of the Hajj, the Muslim relationship with Jesus, the Muslim attitude towards Jews, equality between the sexes and more.
* This revised and updated edition includes a wealth of new material and new chapters covering recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; the changing face of Islam in Europe and North Africa; and a number of topics of heated debate (the veil controversy; Islam & women; Iraq War as a Jihadi recruiting agent etc).
One of the world's foremost commentators on religious affairs on the history (and destiny) of the world's most misunderstood religion. In the public mind, Islam is a religion of extremes: it is the world's fastest growing faith; more than three-quarters of the world's refugees are Islamic; it has produced government by authoritarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and ultra-republicans in Iran. Whether we are reading about civil war in Algeria or Afghanistan, the struggle for the soul of Turkey, or political turmoil in Pakistan or Malaysia, the Islamic context permeates all these situations.
Karen Armstrong's elegant and concise book traces how Islam grew from the other religions of the book, Judaism and Christianity; introduces us to the character of Muhammed; and demonstrates that for much of its history, the religion has been a force for enlightenment that promoted liberties for women and allowed the arts and sciences to flourish. ISLAM shows how this progressive legacy is today often set aside as the faith struggles to come to terms with the economic and political weakness of most of its believers and with the forces of modernity itself.
In God, Reza Aslan sheds new light on mankind's relationship with the divine and challenges our perspective on the history of faith and the birth of religion. From the origins of spiritual thought to the concept of an active, engaged, divine presence that underlies all creation, Aslan examines how the idea of god arose in human evolution, was gradually personalized, endowed with human traits and emotions, and eventually transformed into a single Divine Personality: the God known today by such names as Yahweh, Father, and Allah. Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, God challenges everything we thought we knew about the origins of religious belief, and with it our relationship with life and death, with the natural and spiritual worlds, and our understanding of the very essence of human existence.
. Dan Jones, best-selling chronicler of the Middle Ages, turns his attention to the history of the Crusades - the sequence of religious wars fought between the late eleventh century and late medieval periods, in which armies from European Christian states attempted to wrest the Holy Land from Islamic rule, and which have left an enduring imprint on relations between the Muslim world and the West.
From the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095 to the loss of the last crusader outpost in the Levant in 1302-03, and from the taking of Jerusalem from the Fatimids in 1099 to the fall of Acre to the Mamluks in 1291, Crusaders tells a tale soaked in Islamic, Christian and Jewish blood, peopled by extraordinary characters, and characterised by both low ambition and high principle. Dan Jones is a master of popular narrative history, with the priceless ability to write page-turning narrative history underpinned by authoritative scholarship. Never before has the era of the Crusades been depicted in such bright and striking colours, or their story told with such gusto.
The Knights Templar were the wealthiest, most powerful - and most secretive - of the military orders that flourished in the crusading era. Their story - encompassing as it does the greatest international conflict of the Middle Ages, a network of international finance, a swift rise in wealth and influence followed by a bloody and humiliating fall - has left a comet's tail of mystery that continues to fascinate and inspire historians, novelists and conspiracy theorists.
What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltering in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? And why has belief thrived ever since, leading us to invent heaven and hell, sin and redemption, and above all, gods?Religion reflects our deepest hopes and fears; whether you are a believer or, like Matthew Kneale, a non-believer who admires mankind's capacity to create and to imagine, it has shaped our world. And as our dreams and nightmares have changed over the millennia, so have our beliefs - from shamans to Aztec priests, from Buddhists to Christians: the gods we created have evolved with us. Belief is humanity's most epic invention.
It has always been our closest companion and greatest consolation. To understand it is to better understand ourselves.
'In a 2016 poll, one in 10 Britons claimed to have experienced the presence of an angel, while one in three remain convinced that they have a guardian angel. These are huge numbers and mean that, on some counts, angels are doing better than God .In the secular, sceptical, post-Christian world of the West, continuing faith in angels is both anomaly and comfort. But what exactly are angels, and why have so many in different times and contexts around the globe believed in them? What is their history and role in the great faiths and beyond their walls? Are angels something real, a manifestation of divine concern? Or part of the poetry of religion? And can they continue to illuminate a deeper truth about human existence and the cosmos? These are not new questions.
They have been asked over millennia, right up to the present day, as writer, journalist and broadcaster Peter Stanford explores in Angels, his latest investigation into the history, theology and cultural significance of religious ideas. 'There is no better navigator through the space in which art, culture and spirituality meet than Peter Stanford' Cole Moreton, Independent on Sunday
FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE SILK ROADS 'Filled with Byzantine intrigue, in every sense this book is important, compellingly revisionist and impressive in its scholarly use of totally fresh sources' Simon Sebag Montefiore In 1096, an expedition of extraordinary scale and ambition set off from Western Europe on a mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Three years later, after a journey which saw acute hardship, the most severe dangers and thousands of casualties, the knights of the First Crusade found themselves storming the fortifications and capturing the Holy City. Against all the odds, the expedition had returned Jerusalem to Christian hands.
In 'the most significant contribution to rethinking the origins and course of the First Crusade for a generation' (Mark Whittow, TLS), Frankopan paints a strikingly original picture of this infamous confrontation between Christianity and Islam. Focusing on Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, a truly fresh interpretation of a very old story emerges that radically alters our understanding of the entire crusade movement.
WINNER OF THE 2019 DUFF COOPER PRIZEA SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece.' Sunday Times
The Bible is the central book of Western culture. For the two faiths which hold it sacred, it is the bedrock of their religion, a singular authority on what to believe and how to live.
For non-believers too, it has a commanding status: it is one of the great works of world literature, woven to an unparalleled degree into our language and thought. This book tells the story of the Bible, explaining how it came to be constructed and how it has been understood, from its remote beginnings down to the present. John Barton describes how the narratives, laws, proverbs, prophecies, poems and letters which comprise the Bible were written and when, what we know - and what we cannot know - about their authors and what they might have meant, as well as how these extraordinarily disparate writings relate to each other.
His incisive readings shed new light on even the most familiar passages, exposing not only the sources and traditions behind them, but also the busy hands of the scribes and editors who assembled and reshaped them. Untangling the process by which some texts which were regarded as holy, became canonical and were included, and others didn't, Barton demonstrates that the Bible is not the fixed text it is often perceived to be, but the result of a long and intriguing evolution. Tracing its dissemination, translation and interpretation in Judaism and Christianity from Antiquity to the rise of modern biblical scholarship, Barton elucidates how meaning has both been drawn from the Bible and imposed upon it.
Discover the most impactful and incredible episodes from human history, from the prehistoric era to the early twenty-first century, through fifty of the most surprising and often less well-known places in the world. From the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where remains of some of our earliest tool-using ancestors were found, to the CERN laboratory, where revolutionary technologies such as the World Wide Web were developed, each entry shows its influence on not just politics, but on the economy, culture, religion and society, as well as their links to great historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Buddha and Nelson Mandela. The size of the places ranges from small geographical features like a cave in Saudi Arabia where Islam began, to larger areas or regions, like Hollywood.
Many entries are cities, such Jerusalem, Amritsar, and Rome, some others are buildings, like Anne Frank's House in the Netherlands or the Confucius Temple in China, and there are even some that are rooms, such as the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles Palace. No place is too big or too small to be included, as long as it has had a significant impact on history.
'Thich Nhat Hanh is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. His ideas for peace if applied, would build a monument of ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.' Martin Luther King, Jr.
Budda and Jesus Christ, perhaps the two most pivotal figures in the history of humankind, each left behind a legacy of teachings and practices that have shaped the lives of billions of people over the course of two millennia. If they were to meet on the road today, what would each think of the other's spiritual views and practices? Thich Nhat Hanh has been part of a decades-long dialogue between the two greatest living contemplative traditions, and brings to Christianity an appreciation of its beauty that could be conveyed only by an outsider. In a lucid, meditative prose, he explores the crossroads of compassion and holiness at which Buddhism and Christianity meet, and reawakens our understanding of both.
From the author of REVEAL and How to Love Yourself (and Sometimes Other People) comes a shocking new exploration of the long-lost Gospel of Mary Magdalene.
A gospel, as old and authentic as any that now make up the Bible, was buried deep in the Egyptian desert after an edict was sent out in the 4th century to have all copies of it destroyed. Fortunately, some rebel monks refused, and thanks to their disobedience we have several ancient manuscripts of the only gospel that was written in the name of a woman: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. It speaks of a message quite different from the one that has been spread by Christian leaders for the past two millennia.
Mary Magdalene's gospel says that we are not sinful, but that humans too, are made of the divine - and that divinity is not something you can receive through confession or absolution, but by turning inward and tuning in to the radical presence of love within.
An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world's oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds. Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated even within a century; its central tenets karma, dharma, to name just two arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism - its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness- lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today.
Wendy Doniger is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world. With her inimitable insight and expertise Doniger illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon. Without reversing or misrepresenting the historical hierarchies, she reveals how Sanskrit and vernacular sources are rich in knowledge of and compassion toward women and lower castes; how they debate tensions surrounding religion, violence, and tolerance; and howanimals are the key to important shifts in attitudes toward different social classes.
The Hindus brings a fascinating multiplicity of actors and stories to the stage to show how brilliant and creative thinkers - many of them far removed from Brahmin authors of Sanskrit texts - have kept Hinduism alive in ways that other scholars have not fully explored. In this unique and authoritative account, debates about Hindu traditions become platforms from which to consider the ironies, and overlooked epiphanies, of history.
'The Buddha was the source. Venerable Svasti and the young buffalo boys were rivers that flowed from the source. Wherever the rivers flowed, the Buddha would be there.'
In Old Path White Clouds, the world's revered master of mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh, retells the story of the Buddha in his own inimitably beautiful style.
He draws upon Pali, Sanskrit and Chinese sources to trace the Buddha's life slowly and gently through the course of eighty years. Seen partly through the eyes of the Buddha himself and partly through those of Svasti, the buffalo boy, Old Path White Clouds brings the Buddha closer to us as we journey with him on his path to enlightenment and nirvana.
The enormous rise in popularity in recent decades of the Camino, the ancient pilgrim path that stretches from France, across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, is part of a wider phenomenon being witnessed on other time-honoured pilgrim routes around the globe and across the faiths. But this is happening in a world that in many places is self-avowedly ever more sceptical, secular and scientific, with formal religious affiliation in steep decline. Why? Some argue that tourism is the new religion, and that those who today walk in the footsteps of countless past generations of believers do so to enjoy the holiday experience, the escape from their everyday world, the health benefits of so much exercise, and the companionship, without seeking any sort of spiritual enlightenment.
Yet by looking at a diverse range of pilgrimage sites that includes Rome, Jerusalem, Lalibela in Ethiopia, the Buddha Trail in northern India, Shikoku in Japan and the self-styled 'power place' of Machu Picchu in Peru, Peter Stanford draws on his own experience as a pilgrim to argue that something more complex and challenging is going on. Financial crises, increasing inequality, climate change and worldwide pandemics are causing people to question the very foundations on which their post religion, twenty-first-century lives are built. This book considers how pilgrimage, with its long history, essential intertwining of arduous journey and openness to personal transformation, is providing the modern age with a means to take a longer, slower and hence more profound look at life, stretching all the way back to when the first pilgrim put one foot in front of another.