Dr Rachel Woodlock is an academic and writer who researches and teaches about Islam and Muslims. She co-edited Fear of Muslims? International Perspectives on Islamophobia with Professor Douglas Pratt (Springer, 2016), an evidenced-based examination of Islamophobia in both 'old-world' Europe and the 'new-world' of America and Australia, and also Southeast Asia. She also co-wrote For God's Sake: An Atheist, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim Debate Religion (Pan MacMillan, 2013), discussing some of life's biggest questions.
She completed a Bachelor of Arts (Arabic & Islamic Studies) and a Master of Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, and her doctoral research undertaken at Monash University looked at the social integration of religious Muslims in Australia. Dr Woodlock has lectured widely and taught subjects on Islam and Muslims at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her area interests include religio-political interpretations of Islam; Muslims in Australia; Islamophobia; Islam and gender; and Islamic heterodoxy.
This book introduces the general reader to the history, beliefs and practices of Islam with a particular focus on the Irish experience. It is divided into six sections covering Islam's history, civilisations, ideas, people, issues and future. As well as describing what unifies Muslims in 'what Islam teaches', it also emphasises the vast diversity that exists among Muslims.
It covers the early history, rise and expansion of Islam at a time when Christianity was beginning to mature in Ireland, and looks at the rise of Islamic dynasties and Muslim conquests—including into Europe—that resulted in cross-cultural exchanges between Christendom and the Islamic world, as well as the Crusades and the arrival of modernity, colonisation and Westernisation in the modern period. Of particular relevance to the Irish reader, it covers the Irish historical encounter with Islam both overseas and as Muslims began to settle here.
As well as an overview of Islam's major beliefs and practices, it examines the debates and diversity that exist in the Muslim world, as well as in Ireland, over who can 'speak' for Islam, which are more fully elaborated upon in sections dealing with lifecycle rituals and sensitive issues surrounding family, healthcare, education and employment as Muslims try to implement Islam (in varying degrees) in their lives in a Catholic-majority context.
In the concluding chapter, Irish attitudes towards Muslims are discussed, as are potential demographic trends both in Europe and Ireland specifically. It introduces the idea of 'kaleidoculture' first defined by Bruce Lawrence in considering the American experience. This heralds a potential future in which Irish Muslims make a unique and valuable contribution to Ireland, and develop a specifically Irish way of being Muslim.
This book gives the general reader a thorough overview and understanding of the religion of Islam and its followers, framed for the first time within the modern Irish context.
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