Unlike many "Islam 101" books published since September 11, 2001, Following Muhammad avoids the traps of sensational political exposé and specialized scholarly Orientalism. Carl Ernst introduces readers to the profound spiritual resources of Islam while clarifying diversity and debate within the tradition.
One out of five people in the world is Muslim; only 18 percent of those, however, are Arab. Ernst moves away from a Middle Eastern bias, addressing the pluralistic nature of Muslim societies and thought. Framing his argument in terms of religious studies, Ernst describes how Protestant definitions of religion and anti-Muslim prejudice have affected views of Islam in Europe and America. Ernst also covers the contemporary importance of Islam in both its traditional settings and its new locations and provides a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism.