|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
Indic cultural region, the Buddhist/Confucian, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim regions, and the African cultural region. In each section an introductory essay discusses the social development of that religious tradition historically. The other essays cover the basic social factsthe communitys
size, location, organizational and pilgrimage centers, authority figures, patterns of governance, major subgroups and schismsas well as issues regarding boundary maintenance, political involvement, role in providing cultural identity, and encounters with modernity. Communities in the diaspora and at
the periphery are covered, as well as the central geographic regions of the religious traditions. Thus, for example, Islamic communities in Asia and the United States are included along with Islamic societies in the Middle East. The contributors are leading scholars of world religions, many of whom
are also members of the communities they study. The essays are written to be informative and accessible to the educated public, and to be respectful of the viewpoints of the communities analyzed.