What exactly is the Qur'an? How does this extraordinary document -- literally "recitation" -- relate to the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad? And why did the religion of the Prophet, which came to be called "Islam" (or submission to God's will), at the center of which lies the Qur'an, give birth to a legacy so richly diverse in faith, law and civilization? This immaculately researched, but at the same time thoroughly accessible, book offers a journey into the full range of experience -- past and present, secular and sacred -- of the peoples and cultures that share in Islamic tradition. The volume examines a broad diversity of themes and topics. Poets, cities and the architecture of mosques are as much a part of its exploration as the role of science in belief, ways of reading scripture, the relationship of women to the faith and the emergence of a "digital community" of believers. In the aftermath of 9/11, the so-called "war on terror" and a new global geopolitics defined by reaction and response to the perils of fundamentalism and extremism, it is imperative to understand -- across all its frontiers -- what Islam is about and what Muslims believe." A Companion to the Muslim World" comprises an attractive and coherent attempt by distinguished scholars to contibute towards that vital process of comprehension.