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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East Paperback – 24 Jan 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris; Revised edition edition (24 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860648681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860648687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.2 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 201,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'The first balanced and sober analysis of the new anti-Islamic tendency... In a detailed and rational exposition of the evidence, Halliday emphasizes the extraordinary diversity of the Islamic world. A brave and important book.' - The Observer Listed as one of The Guardian's top 10 Middle East Books, 6 April 2002 'Fred Halliday's Islam and the Myth of Confrontation should be welcomed by both specialists and non-specialists alike... I would highly recommend the book for undergraduates... it offers many opportunities for spirited debate and alternative constructions of the complexities of the region...a successful and useful contribution to the scholarly literature.' -John Curry, Digest of Middle East Studies

About the Author

Fred Halliday is Professor of International Relations at the LSE, author of many books, including Two Hours that Shook the World.

Inside This Book

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The chapters that follow are part of the long process of reflection on the contemporary Middle East and on the various ways of thinking about and analysing that region. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By 1Lit.co.uk Inc. on 12 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
This collection of previously published essays by one of Britain's most original thinkers on the Middle East covers a wide range of topics, from the Iranian revolution to human rights in Islam. One of the best chapters deals with Orientalism and its critics, in which Halliday intelligently tackles both sides of this rather tiresome debate. Throughout, he upholds a belief in the value of approaching the Middle East with the normal standards of social science in mind; he treats it not as some exotic, unchanging terrain, but as a complex region that can be best understood by asking the right questions and looking hard enough for evidence. A breath of fresh air.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Istor on 8 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
This book was among the essential readings for my course of World History, and frankly I found the chapter about Iran the part worth reading(Khomeini's reign of terror etc) still the author's basic thesis is a flawed one when it comes to the question whether Islam and democracy are incompatible, as he spuriously argues that democracy is possible only with secularism. The ironic thing is that while he says Islamism is a form of nationalism(which of course just like any other form of nationalism is constructed through what have been selected, written, pictured, popularized and repressed by its architects i.e. Mawdudi, Khomeini and Qutb) the issue is that when he speaks about the supposed incompatibility of Islam and democracy, he tends to forget that just as Islamism is constructed ideology, so it is not impossible to reconstruct and reinterpret Islam to fit into the democracy realm. Take the fatwas of Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq as an excellent example of effort.

Another place that I am at odd with Halliday is his portrait of the Gulf War just one kind of a `just war", I was not against pushing Saddam out of Kuwait, nor had the slightest illusion that sanctions will make him back off, but my issue is the belligerent and morally bank corrupt policy of George Bush the father, that favoured and to a great extend helped the dictator to stay in power in the aftermath of the war for another decade. We might have had totally a different situation in Iraq altogether, given that the fact that all the neighboring countries were in favour of removing him from power and the possibility of using the defeated Iraq as a buffer zone, as it has been since 2003, would have been much less likely.

I think that there are better works in the market that shed the light on the resurgent of political Islam. I would particularly recommend Karen Armstrong's The Battle for God.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
islam and politics 26 Oct. 2000
By nasser momayezi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Over the last two decades, Islamic revivalism in the Muslim world has been the subject of heated debates among academicians and policy makers. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam has often been perceived as a world-wide menace and the major threat to the West. Some scholars have directed attention to a large scale confrontation between Islam and the West that they call a "clash of civilization." Fred Halliday sets out to reject such interpretations. He provides an alternative, critical but cautious reassessment.
Halliday asserts that the Islamic threat to the West is propagated from two contradictory sides--from the West that seeks to turn the Muslim world into another enemy, and from the camp of those within the Islamic countries who advocate contadiction with the Western world in order to remain in power. Halliday contends that the idea of a prennial conflict with West is not just an invention of European or American demagogues. "As communism collapsed, and with it the range of parties and movements in the Third World that associated with it, some in the Islamic world appeared to confirm Western prejudices by affirming that they would indeed replace Bolshevism as the major challenge to the West, and would do so more effectively because their challenge was inspired by God."
"Isam and the Myth of Confrontation" is a scholarly contribution and extremely insightful book that sheds new light on a very complex issues involving the Middle East. General readers as well as experts on the Midlle East are certain to be enlightened by this excellent book.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Thoughful essays by a scholar deserve attention 24 Mar. 2005
By L. F Sherman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Halliday's title "Myth of Confrontation" has thrown off more than one reviewer and probably left some potential readers to dismiss the book entirely. (It is ironic and also unfortunate, that another book more shallow and less valuable became a big seller because it's title appeared to be confirmed by 9-11 shortly after it was completed, "What Went Wrong?" - such are the fates and irrationality of opinion formation.)

Readers should start with the new Preface written a year after 9-11 and be prepared to work a little harder to think rather than merely find simplistic confirmation of bias they may have. This is not to say one always agrees - only that Halliday has worthwhile things to say to those with an open mind.

The first section has chapters on the Middle East in International Relations reminding us that similar drives apply as elsewhere in the world and that it is not totally and mystically unique. An interesting essay on the Iranian Revolution is followed by another on the Gulf War.

Part two provides mature reflections on select issues: "Islam and the West" and the validity of their mutual threats; human rights issues; and many sources of anti-Muslimism (one might wryly comment that his oversight misses Amazon reviewers and the darker side of the US Media). The conclusion critiques both Said and the Orientalists although it is not terribly satisfying and not really tightly constructed conclusion for the book so much as another essay.

Some general readers may find the analytical style a bit tough going built as it is on more than the flaccid assertions of some other more popular books. Yet the case that Islam is too varied, focus too much centered on domestic concerns, and conflicts of interest and character of various Muslim regimes and Fundamentalist groups too considerable for a meaningful interpretation based on Islam's "confrontation" or "civilizational clash" to really explain anything worth explaining is made - however indirectly. Conspiratorial theorists, paranoids, and Crusaders will be disappointed - but probably would not think their way through the book anyway (fundamentally convinced of their own just truth already).

Huntington's thesis is not directly addressed here but is, and should be, discredited by the discussion of particulars. (For a more direct analysis of that one should see such things as relevant chapter's of "Why America's Top Pundit's Are Wrong".) This book draws from specific analysis, Huntington's from broad generalization and assertions. Halliday is a scholar of Muslim themes, Huntington read Lewis's essay on "Rage" and not a whole lot more. Pundits, politicians, polemicists, press people have climbed on Huntington's bandwagon and policy has been effected - it is a pity that few have honestly considered alternatives. But then "60 million Americans can't be wrong" - no that was `Frenchmen'.
3 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Misses the point 20 April 2004
By Hassan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Halliday argues that there is no 'one' Islam but doesn't address the factors that necessitate the clash of civilisations.
Islam cannot happily exist in a secular framework as it has its own framework which is mutually exclusive.
Huntingdon's initial prediction of a clash was shallow but ultimately correct and Halliday's cultural discussion ignores the essence of the debate.
3 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Ooops 20 Sept. 2001
By Jaim Azhar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Given recent events, Freddy must be looking for work. Institutions as reputable as the LSE tend to demand that their faculty keep at least marginally in touch with the real world.
In seriousness, this book is poorly written, apologetic tripe. Those seriously interested in ME criticism should consult Ajami or Lewis, not hack journalists like Halliday (or Thomas Friedman, for that matter).
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