For Judaism, Christian, and Islam, the Orient is the center of the world. It bore witness to the birth of Jesus Christ, the sight of Mohamed's ascension to heaven, and the glory of David's kingdom of Israel. No other region possesses such religious significance for so many people.
And because of its significance, the Middle East has also witnessed centuries of conflict and feuding. We commonly associate violence with the Middle East; the Middle East with Islam; and Islam with violence, but that logic is flawed and incomplete. Despite the bloodshed we see, the Middle East has also enjoyed countless years of peace and harmony.
The books within this collection explore various aspects of religion in the Orient. Some of the accounts here are from locals, translated religious texts, the product of years of spiritual discovery and inquiry. Other books are written by outsiders, seekers of God and truth. And others are written for darker, more hateful reasons. It is vital that we understand all of these perspectives because they continue to inform our thoughts and impressions. As Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism once famously said, “If you will it, it is no dream,” and we all need to understand what exactly we are willing, and what we are imagining.
The following page showcases a representative sample of the texts that deal with religion: