In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power

Transaction Publishers
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Americans' awareness of Islam and Muslims rose to seemingly unprecedented heights in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, but this is not the first time they have dominated American public life. Once before, during the period of the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis of 1979 to 1981, Americans found themselves targeted as a consequence of a militant interpretation of Islam. Daniel Pipes wrote In the Path of God in response to those events, and the heightened interest in Islam they generated. His objective was to present an overview of the connection between in Islam and political power through history in a way that would explain the origins of hostility to Americans and the West. Its relevance to our understanding of contemporary events is self evident.

Muslim antagonism toward the West is deeply rooted in historical experience. In premodern times, the Islamic world enjoyed great success, being on the whole more powerful and wealthier than their neighbors. About two hundred years ago, a crisis developed, as Muslims became aware of the West's overwhelming force and economic might. While they might have found these elements attractive, Muslims found European culture largely alien and distasteful. The resulting resistance to Westernization by Muslims has deep roots, has been more persistent than that of other peoples, and goes far to explain the deep Muslim reluctance to accept modern ways. In short, Muslims saw what the West had and wanted it too, but they rejected the methods necessary to achieve this. This, the Muslim trauma, has only worsened over the years.

"Scholarly, far-ranging, and thoughtful... the debate is interesting, and Pipes has made a stimulating contribution to it."-The New Republic

"Brilliant, authoritative... demonstrates encyclopedic knowledge of Muslim intellectual history... Few other writers have explained so lucidly such complex developments in Muslim history."-The Washington Post

"He has resisted a widespread tendency to translate Muslim self-expression into social science jargon as unintelligible as any mosque harangue. His unadorned interpretation strikes a judicious balance between faithfulness to sources and clarity of presentation."-The American Spectator

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post. Among his books are The Long Shadow: Culture and Politics in the Middle East (published by Transaction), Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition, Friendly Tyrants: An American Dilemma, and The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Aftermath and the West.
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Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Pages
373
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ISBN
9781412826167
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
Political Science / General
Religion / Islam / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hailed in The New York Times Book Review as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies," Bernard Lewis has been for half a century one of the West's foremost scholars of Islamic history and culture, the author of over two dozen books, most notably The Arabs in History, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, The Political Language of Islam, and The Muslim Discovery of Europe. Eminent French historian Robert Mantran has written of Lewis's work: "How could one resist being attracted to the books of an author who opens for you the doors of an unknown or misunderstood universe, who leads you within to its innermost domains: religion, ways of thinking, conceptions of power, culture--an author who upsets notions too often fixed, fallacious, or partisan." In Islam and the West, Bernard Lewis brings together in one volume eleven essays that indeed open doors to the innermost domains of Islam. Lewis ranges far and wide in these essays. He includes long pieces, such as his capsule history of the interaction--in war and peace, in commerce and culture--between Europe and its Islamic neighbors, and shorter ones, such as his deft study of the Arabic word watan and what its linguistic history reveals about the introduction of the idea of patriotism from the West. Lewis offers a revealing look at Edward Gibbon's portrait of Muhammad in Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (unlike previous writers, Gibbon saw the rise of Islam not as something separate and isolated, nor as a regrettable aberration from the onward march of the church, but simply as a part of human history); he offers a devastating critique of Edward Said's controversial book, Orientalism; and he gives an account of the impediments to translating from classic Arabic to other languages (the old dictionaries, for one, are packed with scribal errors, misreadings, false analogies, and etymological deductions that pay little attention to the evolution of the language). And he concludes with an astute commentary on the Islamic world today, examining revivalism, fundamentalism, the role of the Shi'a, and the larger question of religious co-existence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. A matchless guide to the background of Middle East conflicts today, Islam and the West presents the seasoned reflections of an eminent authority on one of the most intriguing and little understood regions in the world.
In 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously announced the "end of history." The Berlin Wall had fallen; liberal democracy had won out. But what of illiberal democracy--the idea that popular majorities, working through the democratic process, might reject gender equality, religious freedoms, and other norms that Western democracies take for granted? Nowhere have such considerations become more relevant than in the Middle East, where the uprisings of 2011 swept the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups to power. In Temptations of Power, Shadi Hamid draws on hundreds of interviews with leaders and activists from across the region to advance a new understanding of how Islamist movements change over time. He puts forward the bold thesis that repression "forced" Islamists to moderate their politics, work in coalitions, de-emphasize Islamic law, and set aside the dream of an Islamic state. Meanwhile, democratic openings in the 1980s--and again during the Arab Spring--pushed Islamists back toward their original conservatism. With the uprisings of 2011, Islamists found themselves in an enviable position, but one for which they were unprepared. Groups like the Brotherhood combine the features of both political parties and religious movements, leading to an inherent tension they have struggled to resolve. However pragmatic they may be, their ultimate goal remains the Islamization of society. When the electorate they represent is conservative as well, they can push their own form of illiberal democracy while insisting they are carrying out the popular will. This can lead to overreach and significant backlash. Yet, while the Egyptian coup and the subsequent crackdown were a devastating blow for the Islamist "project," obituaries of political Islam are premature. As long as the battle over the role of religion in public life continues, Islamist parties in countries as diverse as Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan will remain an important force whether in the ranks of opposition or the halls of power. But what are the key factors driving their evolution? A timely and provocative reassessment, Hamid's account serves as an essential compass for those trying to understand where the region's varied Islamist groups have come from and where they might be headed.
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon left us stunned, angry, and uncomprehending. As it became clear that these horrifying acts had been committed in the name of religion, the media, the government, and ordinary citizens alike sought answers to questions about Islam and its adherents. In this level-headed and authoritative book, John L. Esposito, one of the world's most respected scholars of political Islam, provides answers. He clearly and carefully explains the teachings of Islam--the Quran, the example of the Prophet, Islamic law--about jihad or holy war, the use of violence, and terrorism. He chronicles the rise of extremist groups and examines their frightening worldview and tactics. Anti-Americanism (and anti-Europeanism), he shows, is a broad-based phenomenon that cuts across Arab and Muslim societies. It is not just driven by religious zealotry, but by frustration and anger at U.S. policy. It is vital to understand, however, that the vast majority of Muslims are appalled by the acts of violence committed in the name of their faith. It is essential that we distinguish between the religion of Islam and the actions of extremists like Osama bin Laden, who hijack Islamic discourse and belief to justify their acts of terrorism. This brief, clear-sighted book reflects twenty years of study, reflection, and experience on the part of a scholar who is equally respected in the West and in the Muslim world. It will prove to be the best single guide to the urgent questions that have recently forced themselves on the attention of the entire world.
The publication in 1988 of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses triggered a furor that pitted much of the Islamic world against the West over issues of blasphemy and freedom of expression. The controversy soon took on the aspect of a confrontation of civilizations, provoking powerful emotions on a global level. It involved censorship, protests, riots, a break in diplomatic relations, culminating in the notorious Iranian edict calling for the death of the novelist. In The Rushdie Affair, Daniel Pipes explains why the publication of The Satanic Verses became a cataclysmic event with far-reaching political and social consequences.

Pipes looks at the Rushdie affair in both its political and cultural aspects and shows in considerable detail what the fundamentalists perceived as so offensive in The Satanic Verses as against what Rushdie's novel actually said. Pipes explains how the book created a new crisis between Iran and the West at the time--disrupting international diplomacy, billions of dollars in trade, and prospects for the release of Western hostages in Lebanon.

Pipes maps out the long-term implications of the crisis. If the Ayatollah so easily intimidated the West, can others do the same? Can millions of fundamentalist Muslims now living in the United States and Europe possibly be assimilated into a culture so alien to them? Insightful and brilliantly written, this volume provides a full understanding of one of the most significant events in recent years. Koenraad Elst's postscript reviews the enduring impact of the Rushdie affair.

"The Rushdie Affair is a lucid, balanced often startling and ultimately convincing analysis....scrupulously fair, respectful of Islam yet unintimidated by the flood of threats and invective."--Mark Caldwell, Philadelphia Inquirer

"[A] work of impeccable scholarship.Pipes offers a number of conclusions that merit attention at all levels."--Amir Tahiri, Los Angeles Times

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post. Among his books are The Long Shadow: Culture and Politics in the Middle East, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (both published by Transaction), Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition, and Friendly Tyrants: An American Dilemma.

Koenraad Elst is a Belgium-based writer on comparative religion, Indian history, and Hindu-Muslim relations.

"Very highly recommended for anyone seeking a better understanding of contemporary Islam in general, and this defining controversy in particular."--Wisconsin Bookwatch
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