Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

#1 New York Times Bestseller 

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From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that calls into question everything we thought we knew about Jesus of Nazareth.

Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

Two decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God. 

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs traipse through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This is the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan explores this diverse and turbulent age and, in doing so, challenges the conventional portraits of Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction: a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately, the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity. 

Zealot questions what we thought we knew about Jesus of Nazareth—even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of his life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.

“Riveting . . . Aslan synthesizes Scripture and scholarship to create an original account.”The  New Yorker

“A lucid, intelligent page-turner.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn .”The Seattle Times
 
“[Aslan’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait.”Salon
 
“This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process.”San Francisco Chronicle

 

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

International Bestseller

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Farsi version

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexityThis updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times

“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”The Independent (U.K.)
 
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian

 

Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East

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The countries that stretch along the broad horizons of the Middle East—from Morocco to Iran, from Turkey to Pakistan—boast different cultures, different languages, and different religions. Yet the literary landscape of this dynamic part of the world has been bound together not by borders and nationalities, but by a common experience of Western imperialism. Keenly aware of the collected scars left by a legacy of colonial rule, the acclaimed writer Reza Aslan, with a team of four regional editors and seventy-seven translators, cogently demonstrates with Tablet and Pen how literature can, in fact, be used to form identity and serve as an extraordinary chronicle of the disrupted histories of the region. 

Acting with Words Without Borders, which fosters international exchange through translation and publication of the world’s finest literature, Aslan has purposefully situated this volume in the twentieth century, beyond the familiar confines of the Ottoman past, believing that the writers who have emerged in the last hundred years have not received their full due. This monumental collection, therefore, of nearly two hundred pieces, including short stories, novels, memoirs, essays and works of drama—many of them presented in English for the first time—features translated works from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Turkish. Organized chronologically, the volume spans a century of literature—from the famed Arab poet Khalil Gibran to the Nobel laureates Naguib Mahfouz and Orhan Pamuk, from the great Syrian-Lebanese poet Adonis to the grand dame of Urdu fiction, Ismat Chughtai—connected by the extraordinarily rich tradition of resplendent cultures that have been all too often ignored by the Western canon. 

By shifting America’s perception of the Middle Eastern world away from religion and politics, Tablet and Pen evokes the splendors of a region through the voices of its writers and poets, whose literature tells an urgent and liberating story. With a wealth of contextual information that places the writing within the historical, political, and cultural breadth of the region, Tablet & Pen is transcendent, a book to be devoured as a single sustained narrative, from the first page to the last. Creating a vital bridge between two estranged cultures, "this is that rare anthology: cohesive, affecting, and informing" (Publishers Weekly). 

Includes the writings of Kahlil Gibran, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Nâzim Hikmet, Ismat Chughtai, Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Forugh Farrokhzad, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Yaşar Kemal, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Ahmad Shamloo, Naguib Mahfouz, Orhan Pamuk, and more.

“Remarkable . . . a triumph . . . connects us at the level of our humanity, no matter where we may be from.”—Los Angeles Times

“This is a treasure house; a worthwhile attempt at canonizing 20th-century central-Islamicate writing.... It’s a physically beautiful book which is also compulsively readable.” Financial Times

“A stunning rebuke to the argument that there's a clash of civilizations [and] shows how we can move beyond politics.” The Daily Beast

“Provocative and illuminating . . . a literary banquet with so many astonishing dishes that we can hardly complain there are not yet more on the table.” The Jewish Journal

… among the finds (at least to this reader) is Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (1901-1962), a Turk represented by a smart, sensitive excerpt from one of his novels, A Mind at Peace. " —The Washington Post

How to Win a Cosmic War

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The wars in the Middle East have become religious wars in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. The hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting in the name of God. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with its own religiously polarizing rhetoric, is fighting a similar war—a war that can’t be won.  

The book is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At a time when religion and politics increasingly share the same vocabulary and function in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie at its root. 

How do you win a religious war? By refusing to fight in one.

Featuring new content and updated analysis. Originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War. Published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism.

“[A] thoughtful analysis of America’s War on Terror.” The New Yorker
 
“Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism.” The Washington Post

“[Reza] Aslan dissects a complex subject (terrorism and globalization) and distills it with a mix of narrative writing, personal anecdotes, reportage and historical analysis.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad.” Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] meaty analysis of the rise of Jihadism . . . dispels common misconceptions of the War on Terror age.” San Jose Mercury News
 

“It is Aslan’s great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think.” —Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion