This is the first ebook that I bought. I bought an ereader to read all those PDFs that I have on my computer, but when I noticed that there are also ebooks that I want to read and the prices are better than I thought and I was looking for a Traditionalist title anyway, I got myself this famous book by Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998). The book was initially written in French (“Comprendre l’Islam” 1976), has been published in English before, but in 2011 became available in a new English translation and was expanded with letters and other short writings of Schuon. I must say that I am relatively happy ‘reading e’. When there is a note, I can read it in a popup without having to page to the notes and even when a note is too long for the popup, the jumping to the note and back to where I was reading goes with one click. The ereader keeps track of where I am in which book as well, so I can read several books without having to finish each of them first and the dictionary function is great. I was afraid that reviewing an ebook would be a pain, because when reviewing a book, I am constantly flipping through it which is not ‘doable’ on the ereader, but the software that I need to put books on the device, also acts like a reader and on the computer navigation goes well enough. I guess that the choice between buying a physical book and a digital one will be the question if I want to put it in my library for referential purposes.
In any case, in his preface Schuon says that he did not want to write another book about what Muslims believe, but why. Perhaps this is why I am not really sure if I understand Islam better after reading this book. The book reads more like a Traditionalistic work (of course Schuon was a Traditionalist and Muslim) and a deeply religious one, making cross-references to other religions and speaking about Muslim concepts, but it is not like he sets out to explain these concepts. It is more like a long text in which those different concepts are touched upon in the light of the larger story. “Understanding Islam” certainly is a great book if you want to read a religious work of a Traditionalist, but perhaps there are better books to answer your questions about the religion of Islam. The remark: “A masterpiece of comparative religion” (Islamic Quarterly about the book) descries what I mean. Of course, since the book is about Islam afterall, you will learn about it, but just different from what I expected I guess.
2011 World Wisdom, isbn 0941532240