The world´s second largest religion, Islam is also one of the fastest growing and most politically potent, yet its nature remains obscure to many westerners despite its common theological and historical roots with Judaism and Christianity. Combining the finest Western scholarship with an insider´s understanding of the Muslim world, this book provides a brief, yet comprehensive, introduction to the faith, belief, and practice of Islam from the seventh century to the contemporary resurgence. Drawing on his extensive experience traveling, researching, and teaching in the Muslim world, John L. Esposito records the struggle of Muslims to define and follow their way of life through the development of Islamic law, theology, mysticism, and philosophy, bringing his discussion to life with excerpts from a wide range of original sources. Written for a broad audience, Islam: The StraightPath addresses the powerful and pervasive role of Islam in modern Muslim life and the issues that Islam faces, avoiding simplified political generalizations about the contemporary scene. Completely up-to-date, this book is indispensable to understanding the Islamic world during this turbulent and important period in its history.