- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Edition edition (27 Mar. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300139314
- ISBN-13: 978-0300139310
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Crisis of Islamic Civilization Hardcover – 27 Mar 2009
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"... a wide-ranging, readable and endlessly thought-provoking essay." -- Scotsman, 18th May 2009
"...an engaged work, diagnostic and...prescriptive...to enrich our contemporary debate about religion in the public sphere." -- Sajjad H Rizvi, The Middle East in London, July-August 2009
"As elegant and erudite as one might expect, this book makes a vital contribution to this most vexed of subjects."
-- Good Book Guide, July 2009
"...an engaged work, diagnostic and...prescriptive...to enrich our contemporary debate about religion in the public sphere."See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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What this book is not, is a diatribe on Western Imperialism, or any other kind of foreign involvement in Muslim countries. Though the book does feature such discussions, Allawi takes the reader through numerous examples of how Islam as a civilization, not as a faith, has come loose of its moorings.
In Allawi's analysis, Islam is not simply a faith practiced individually or amongst communities, rather it is a way of life and worldview, with organizational answers to many aspects of life. These, according to Allawi, have been lost, and the attempts of Wahabbis, Salafists, or other aspects of what Allawi terms "the Islamic revolt" do not provide the answer, rather they exacerbate the problem.
Allawi often alludes to the Sharia as the organizing aspect of Islamic civilization, a word that is undoubtedly loaded and misunderstood. Rather than being a penal code with draconian punishments, the Sharia as understood by Allawi, is a complete system governing community relations, science, art, architecture, and many other areas that are in decline within the Islamic world.
Toward the end, Allawi provides examples of the underperformance of Muslim countries, save those of the Gulf, and how examples of financial reform along Islamic lines, such as Mahathir Bin Mohammad's proposal of an Islamic currency for trading purposes, were both opposed by Washington Consensus Financial Institutions, and received lackluster support among Muslim countries.
Allawi's solutions for the civilizational malaise are not quite clear, at least not from one's first reading, but he correctly demonstrates how Islam has wrongly entered the demonology of Western thinking. Allawi (rightly) contends that the Islamic world was a poor substitute for the Eastern Bloc when the West looked for a new threat to identify following the demise of the old one. Islam lacks no core state, unlike the communist world, is widely fractured and disunited, and many of the accusations in the Western mind are unfounded.
One civilizational flashpoint, for example, the Rushdie affair, and other similar incidents such as the Danish Cartoons, highlight a Western insistence on total freedom of speech. Such a thing is nonexistent even in the West, for example Holocaust denial, and this along with other aspects demonstrate a lack of understanding on behalf of the West.
Allawi's position on Islamic reformers is not quite clear, though it is clear that he has no sympathy for Salafists and other reactionaries.
The final chapter is an examination of the spiritual aspect of Islam, particularly with regard to the Sufi orders, something that is also in decline, and Allawi contends that there is not only inadequate understanding toward such movements in both the Islamic World and the West, but also that Islam's spirituality is decidedly different from the West in the sense that it is not divorced from Monotheism, the way how other New Age movements are in the West.
Allawi's work is not only a more in depth, scholarly, and broad range analysis of Islam's civilizational malaise, it is also a work that treats Islam through the proper aspect of what it is, a way of life, rather than what the West intends it to be, a faith relegated to the personal domain.
Extra praise is due to the Kindle edition, which features a much more attractive Font, in contrast to the standard Typeset of Kindle Ebooks, along with a very navigable layout.
In short, Allawi's work is a startling treatise on Islam as a civilization that stands head and shoulders above its crowded field, and deserves to be both read, and re-read.
Ali A. Allawi
This is an extremely well researched and precisely argued contribution to contemporary debate on the crisis which has shaped the evolution of Islam, particularly over recent decades. Its strength lies both in the author's prodigious and fascinating account of the cultural, historical and political factors that form the context for this crisis and the refreshingly progressive political stand he adopts.
As a democratic socialist with a keen developing interest in Islamic studies, the sophistication of Ali Allawi's discourse is very much appreciated. Here, at last is a writer who provides a cogent argument that Islam has within it the seeds that will ensure the survival of the religion in a progressive form in the modern world, if only they are allowed to flourish. The Crisis of Islamic Civilisation is a heroic undertaking, given the breadth and depth of the subject matter, but the author retains impressive control of the material throughout the book. There is much here to be absorbed and it is set out in a way that is constantly thought provoking and intriguing. Highly recommended.
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