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The Crisis of Islamic Civilization (edition 2010)

by Ali A. Allawi

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Member:alu042
Title:The Crisis of Islamic Civilization
Authors:Ali A. Allawi
Info:Yale University Press (2010), Edition: 0, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:eBooks, Your library (inactive)
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The Crisis of Islamic Civilization by Ali A. Allawi

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Allawi dismisses the Western Enlightenment and the Renaissance with a wave of the hand but it would have been intriguing if he had considered Mu'tazila rationalism and the questioning of the Koranic text in light of historical-critical methods, and modern skepticism. He argued in contrast that there was no need of reform in Islam since the over-arching view of all Islamic reformers is the all-encompassing divine plan of Islam. He criticizes reformers who posited a golden and often mythical age of early Islam but he seems to fall into the same trap himself. He does not seem able to deconstruct Islamic civilization objectively. The eminent historian Bernard Lewis is summarily dismissed as the "once distinguished historian" (p. 23) simply because Allawi disagrees with him. He does address Lewis at several points throughout the work and yet there is no serious consideration of Lewis' important thesis about the crisis in Islamic civilization, Allawi's interest, in What Went Wrong? by Lewis. Allawi might have at least considered Lewis' arguments. He notes some figures that support Lewis' thesis. Sayyid Jamaluddin al-Afghani for example wrote "It is clear that wherever it [Islam] became established, this religion tried to stifle the sciences" (p. 33). Al-Afghani's one-time follower, Muhammad Abduh, advocated Ijtihad--"independent reasoning to reach juridical conclusions" and even stretched this idea way beyond its original intent to include "interest-free banking," (p. 35) in opposition to sharia law (cf. p. 66) but this legitimized Western, modern-style financing which could have fostered economic growth (Neill Ferguson, The Ascent of Money).

Rightfully so though the sultanate and the caliphate are endemic to Islamic civilization hence their incompatibility to the nation-state (p. 20). Even more regressive along these lines then is the retarding force of sharia law as advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood (p. 66).

One Islamic thinker or intellectual movement after another was repressed or did not lead to productive results. One progressive element, the science of tafsir, re-interprets the Koran in the light of modernity. Tafsir, coupled with Mu'tazila, might be an enlightened path away from the confines of the Koran. Although tafsir interpreters vary in their political goals it is a promising development to update the Koran. Muhammad Asad, in The Message of the Quran, was "an innovative attempt to convey a rationalist interpretation of the the Quran in a more accessible and persuasive way to modern readers" (p. 79). Although the work has been influential in many circles Asad did run afoul of Saudi authorities. ISTAC, an attempt to produce credible Islamic academic work, ending up repressed and in fact never developed beyond sectarian thinking in any case (p. 100). Mahmoud Muhammad Taha developed an interesting notion of fardiyya, the individual (p. 129). He questioned the applicability of sharia law, and split the Koran into prescriptive and non-prescriptive elements which may have liberated modern Muslims from the past (pp. 129-131).
  gmicksmith | Aug 12, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300139314, Hardcover)

Islam as a religion is central to the lives of over a billion people, but its outer expression as a distinctive civilization has been undergoing a monumental crisis. Buffeted by powerful adverse currents, Islamic civilization today is a shadow of its former self. The most disturbing and possibly fatal of these currents—the imperial expansion of the West into Muslim lands and the blast of modernity that accompanied it—are now compounded by a third giant wave, globalization.

These forces have increasingly tested Islam and Islamic civilization for validity, adaptability, and the ability to hold on to the loyalty of Muslims, says Ali A. Allawi in his provocative new book. While the faith has proved resilient in the face of these challenges, other aspects of Islamic civilization have atrophied or died, Allawi contends, and Islamic civilization is now undergoing its last crisis.

The book explores how Islamic civilization began to unravel under colonial rule, as its institutions, laws, and economies were often replaced by inadequate modern equivalents. Allawi also examines the backlash expressed through the increasing religiosity of Muslim societies and the spectacular rise of political Islam and its terrorist offshoots. Assessing the status of each of the building blocks of Islamic civilization, the author concludes that Islamic civilization cannot survive without the vital spirituality that underpinned it in the past. He identifies a key set of principles for moving forward, principles that will surprise some and anger others, yet clearly must be considered.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Islam as a religion is central to the lives of over a billion people, but its outer expression as a distinctive civilization has been undergoing a monumental crisis. Buffeted by powerful adverse currents, Islamic civilization today is a shadow of its former self. The most disturbing and possibly fatal of these currents - the imperial expansion of the West into Muslim lands and the blast of modernity that accompanied it - are now compounded by a third giant wave, globalization. These forces have increasingly tested Islam and Islamic civilization for validity, adaptability, and the ability to hold on to the loyalty of Muslims, says Ali A. Allawi in his provocative new book. While the faith has proved resilient in the face of these challenges, other aspects of Islamic civilization have atrophied or died, Allawi contends, and Islamic civilization is now undergoing its last crisis. The book explores how Islamic civilization began to unravel under colonial rule, as its institutions, laws, and economies were often replaced by inadequate modern equivalents. Allawi also examines the backlash expressed through the increasing religiosity of Muslim societies and the spectacular rise of political Islam and its terrorist offshoots. Assessing the status of each of the building blocks of Islamic civilization, the author concludes that Islamic civilization cannot survive without the vital spirituality that underpinned it in the past. He identifies a key set of principles for moving forward, principles that will surprise some and anger others, yet clearly must be considered" -- www.yalepress.yale.edu… (more)

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300139314, 0300164068

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