The terrorist attacks of September 11 have focused the world's attention on Islamic fundamentalism. We are told that we are witnessing a 'clash of civilizations' between a secular, modern 'West' and a backward-looking 'Islam'. This short, accessible book rebuts the misconceptions about Islam articulated by many European intellectuals down the centuries, which for non-Muslims still obstruct a clear understanding of both the nature of Islam and the history of Christian-Muslim interactions. It also shows the politically motivated and theologically dubious nature of recent assertions by so-called Islamic fundamentalist movements, and contrasts them with those socially progressive Muslim thinkers who have addressed the inescapable questions thrown up for believers by the modern world. A.G. Noorani provides us with an understanding of certain basic concepts needed to counteract the recent upsurge of ill-informed prejudice against Muslims, and to see through any tendency to romanticize the crude and un-Islamic brutalities of fundamentalists, whom he argues are impostors misusing the faith as a political weapon.