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Prominent Christian theologian Küng completes his trilogy on the world's three monotheistic faiths with this lengthy analysis of Islam's 1,400-year history. As in his previous volumes, he speaks against the clash of civilizations and for peace through inter-religious dialogue. He sees each faith as having had major paradigm shifts that have moved it forward, and, in fact, praises Islam for advancing the Arab people quite rapidly, in some cases much faster than similar periods for Christianity. Nevertheless, he claims the Muslim world has neglected to move to its next paradigm due to various failures: arrogant ulama (religious scholars), greed among the wealthy, and the lack of health care and education. Equally critical of Christianity and Judaism, Küng is a lone, profound voice searching for greater understanding through asking difficult questions. He is intuitively confident that Muslims are ready to revitalize their religion, hungry for such rethinking through new Qur'anic interpretations that are already underway. Although the thousand-page book is overblown and could use some stringent editing, it contains insightful ideas and worthwhile commentary. Those intimidated by the lengthy volume may prefer to peruse the fascinating maps and tables throughout, which neatly and graphically summarize the book's major points. (May)
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