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Beyond Belief (original 1998; edition 1999)
by V.S. Naipaul
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375706488, Paperback)Acclaimed writer V.S. Naipaul has the eye of a novelist, the fearless curiosity of a 2-year-old, and the tenacity of a cornered badger. In Beyond Belief, he puts these three attributes to use in delving into the secrets of Islam--the other Islam, that is. Journeying into the non-Arab Islamic countries of Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia, Naipaul wonders about how these young nations are absorbing a resurgent Islam into their ancient societies and where it might lead them. His exploration is at the grassroots level, through the people living and breathing Islam today. Naipaul illustrates his points with vignettes about characters he meets, by both happenstance and calculation, along the way. We learn about their histories, their families' histories, their motivations, and their dreams. The mosaic that materializes is not always appealing, for Naipaul is a sensitive but disinterested observer, more a watcher than a champion. Islam, we learn, is a font of hope for the converted peoples, sweet when taken in gulps but often bearing an acrid aftertaste. It buries traditional cultures under promising new foundations, indirectly encourages broken families through polygamy, and turns only tentatively to face the issues of modernity. From beginning to end, we find ourselves empathizing with Naipaul's subjects, seeing ourselves in their struggles with family, religion, and nation, feeling their drive to create a fresh world of virtue and prosperity. --Brian Bruya
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:38 -0400)
Revisiting Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia, the countries through which he travelled for his momentous Among the believers, V. S. Naipaul here - sixteen critical years later - reviews his impressions of the Islamic world.
(summary from another edition)
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