Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

An unprecedented, richly, detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in European history and civilization

Tensions over Islam were escalating in Europe even before 9/11. Since then, repeated episodes of terrorism together with the refugee crisis have dramatically increased the divide between the majority population and Muslim communities, pushing the debate well beyond concerns over language and female dress. Meanwhile, the parallel rise of right-wing, nationalist political parties throughout the continent, often espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric, has shaken the foundation of the European Union to its very core.

Many Europeans see Islam as an alien, even barbaric force that threatens to overwhelm them and their societies. Muslims, by contrast, struggle to find a place in Europe in the face of increasing intolerance. In tandem, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination cause many on the continent to feel unwelcome in their European homes.

Akbar Ahmed, an internationally renowned Islamic scholar, traveled across Europe over the course of four years with his team of researchers and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to investigate questions of Islam, immigration, and identity. They spoke with some of Europe’s most prominent figures, including presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Their findings reveal a story of the place of Islam in European history and civilization that is more interwoven and complex than the reader might imagine, while exposing both the misunderstandings and the opportunities for Europe and its Muslim communities to improve their relationship. Along with an analysis of what has gone wrong and why, this urgent study, the fourth in a quartet examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, features recommendations for promoting integration and pluralism in the twenty-first century.

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About the author

Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C., and the former Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC. Among his previous books are Journey into Islam, Journey into America, and The Thistle and the Drone, all published by Brookings. He is also a published poet and playwright.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Feb 27, 2018
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Pages
591
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ISBN
9780815727590
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / World / European
Religion / Islam / General
Religion / Religious Intolerance, Persecution & Conflict
Social Science / Islamic Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Globalization, the war on terror, and Islamic fundamentalism—followed closely by a rise in Islamophobia—have escalated tensions between Western nations and the Muslim world. Yet internationally renowned Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed believes that through dialogue and understanding, these cultures can coexist peacefully and respectfully. That hope and belief result in an extraordinary journey. To learn what Muslims think and how they really view America, Ahmed traveled to the three major regions of the Muslim world the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization is the riveting story of his search for common ground. His absorbing narrative and personal photos bring the reader on a tour of Islam and its peoples. Ahmed sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of ordinary Muslims. Visiting mosques, madrassahs, and universities, he met with people ranging from Pakastan President Pervez Musharraf to prime ministers, princes, sheikhs, professors, and students. He observed, listened, and asked them questions. For example, who inspires them? What are they reading? How do the Internet and international media impact their lives? How do they view America, the West, and changes in society? Ahmed's anthropological expedition enjoyed extensive access to women and youths, revealing unique information on large yet often misunderstood populations. Lamentably, he found high levels of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and a widespread perception that Islam is under attack from the West. But he also brought back reason for hope. He returned from his groundbreaking travels both impressed with the concerned, kind nature of the individuals he encountered and invigorated with the vitality and passion they displayed. Journey into Islam makes a powerful plea for forming friendships across religion, race, and tradition to create lasting peace between Islam and the West.
Nearly seven million Muslims live in the United States today, and their relations with non-Muslims are strained. Many Americans associate Islam with figures such as Osama bin Laden, and they worry about “homegrown terrorists.” To shed light on this increasingly important religious group and counter mutual distrust, renowned scholar Akbar Ahmed conducted the most comprehensive study to date of the American Muslim community.

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