Islam — The Straight Path: Islam Interpreted by Muslims

by Kenneth W. Morgan

Kenneth W. Morgan is Professor of history and comparative religions at Colgate University.

Published by The Ronald Press Company, New York 1958. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) A collection of essays written by Islamic leaders for Western readers. Chapters describe Islam’s origin, ideas, movements and beliefs, and its different manifestations in Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, India, China and Indonesia.


  • Preface

    The faith of Islam, and the consequences of that faith, are described in this book by devout Muslim scholars. This is not a comparative study, nor an attempt to defend Islam against what Muslims consider to be Western misunderstandings of their religion. It is simply a concise presentation of the history and spread of Islam and of the beliefs and obligations of Muslims as interpreted by outstanding Muslim scholars of our time.

  • Chapter 1: The Origin of Islam by Mohammad Abd Allah Draz

    The straight path of Islam requires submission to the will of God as revealed in the Qur’an, and recognition of Muhammad as the Messenger of God who in his daily life interpreted and exemplified that divine revelation which was given through him. The believer who follows that straight path is a Muslim.

  • Chapter 2: Ideas and Movements in Islamic History, by Shafik Ghorbal

    The author describes the history and problems of the Islamic society from the time of the prophet Mohammad as it matures to modern times. Statistical compilations of the numbers of Muslims in various countries are listed.

  • Chapter 3: Islamic Beliefs and Code of Laws by Mahmud Shaltout

    The author holds that it has been proven that the Qur’an could not possibly be the work of Muhammad or of any other human being, but has been given to the Prophet by Holy Revelation. Of this there is no doubt whatsoever. Thus, the beliefs of Islam are True.

  • Chapter 4: The Rational and Mystical Interpretations of Islam by A. E. Affifi

    This chapter discusses the interpretations gleaned from the writings of the old schools of Muslims — mystics and rationalists, including both the theologians and the philosophers — who are not usually regarded by the orthodox school as strict Muslims, but whose influence on Muslim thought and practical religious life is felt even today.

  • Chapter 5: Shi‘a, by Mahmood Shehabi

    Religion is a set of rules, regulations, and plans which God has set up to guide man’s life in such a way that he will become happy in both worlds. The religious man is one who submits himself to God’s rules and obeys them.

  • Chapter 6: Islamic Culture in Arab and African Countries by Ishak M. Husaini

    The interaction between groups of Islamic people has been influenced by the wide cultural varieties of different Islamic countries. These diversities are not due to variations in geographic environments or to different civilizations, but are due only to recognized sectarian differences.

  • Chapter 7: Islamic Culture in Turkish Areas by Hasan Basri Çantay

    An excellent summary of the history, beliefs and diversity of Islam, particularly in Turkish areas. The author answers the question: “Why is Islam so backward today?”

  • Chapter 8: Muslim Culture in Pakistan and India by Mazheruddin Siddiqi

    The history of Islam in Pakistan and India – its growth and retrenchment – and the situation today. Islam, with its simplicity of faith and clarity of doctrine, made a tremendous impression on the Hindu mind, and within the first twenty-five years after its arrival in the seventh century A.D.

  • Chapter 9: Islamic Culture in China by Dawood C. M. Ting

    The rise and fall of Islam in China. Most Chinese Muslims are descendants of Arabian, Iranian, or Turkish parents who came to China by the various trade routes, intermarried with the Chinese and adopted Han customs. Thus, both cultures are mixed which has led to many unique contributions from China. Islam interacted with Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

  • Chapter 10: Islam in Indonesia by P. A. Hoesein Djajadiningrat

    The earliest historical record of Islam in Indonesia comes from Marco Polo (A.D. 1292) when he took a sojourn in Perlack on the north coast of Sumatra while he was on his way back to Venice. He found the people there had been converted to Islam by “Saracene” merchants. Today Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims, mostly Sufi, with its distinctive mysticism.

  • Chapter 11: Unity and Diversity in Islam by Mohammad Rasjidi

    The texts of the Qur’an are still and will always be valid, but we should understand them in the light of present knowledge. At the present time, there are four major tendencies in the Islamic world — orthodoxy, reform, Sufism, and Shi’a. One of the great tasks facing religious scholars in our time is the re-examination of the jurisprudence of Islam in the light of reason and modern knowledge.

  • Bibliography
  • Glossary of Islamic Terms