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Journey into Islam

Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 323
  • Book Info
    Journey into Islam
    Book Description:

    Globalization, the war on terror, and Islamic fundamentalism-followed closely by a rise in Islamophobia-have escalated tensions between Western nations and the Muslim world. Yet internationally renowned Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed believes that through dialogue and understanding, these cultures can coexist peacefully and respectfully. That hope and belief result in an extraordinary journey. To learn what Muslims think and how they really view America, Ahmed traveled to the three major regions of the Muslim world the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia.Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalizationis the riveting story of his search for common ground. His absorbing narrative and personal photos bring the reader on a tour of Islam and its peoples. Ahmed sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of ordinary Muslims. Visiting mosques, madrassahs, and universities, he met with people ranging from Pakastan President Pervez Musharraf to prime ministers, princes, sheikhs, professors, and students. He observed, listened, and asked them questions. For example, who inspires them? What are they reading? How do the Internet and international media impact their lives? How do they view America, the West, and changes in society? Ahmed's anthropological expedition enjoyed extensive access to women and youths, revealing unique information on large yet often misunderstood populations. Lamentably, he found high levels of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and a widespread perception that Islam is under attack from the West. But he also brought back reason for hope. He returned from his groundbreaking travels both impressed with the concerned, kind nature of the individuals he encountered and invigorated with the vitality and passion they displayed. Journey into Islam makes a powerful plea for forming friendships across religion, race, and tradition to create lasting peace between Islam and the West.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0133-0
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Akbar Ahmed
  4. ONE An Anthropological Excursion into the Muslim World
    (pp. 1-48)

    “The actions of Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban,even ifthey kill women and children, are perfectly justified in Islam.” These chilling words, presaging more murder and mayhem, were casually uttered on a sunny day under a blue Indian sky by the politest of young men. The speaker was our host, Aijaz Qasmi, always smiling faintly behind his thick glasses and beard, and dressed in traditional South Asian Muslim attire, white linen pants with a long coat and small white skullcap. He was escorting me and my companions to an important stop on our journey into Islam:...

  5. TWO The Struggle within Islam
    (pp. 49-82)

    August 29, 1659, was a hot and humid day in Delhi, the capital of the mighty Mughal Empire. Large throngs lined the main streets to catch a glimpse of their favorite prince, Dara Shikoh, heir apparent to Shah Jehan, who had built the celebrated Taj Mahal. But this was not a happy occasion. Dara was on his way to be executed.¹ As the crowd caught sight of him, a gasp went up. Pale, drawn, and clothed in filthy rags, Dara looked down from a ragged elephant covered in dirt. Aware that every attempt was being made to publicly humiliate him,...

  6. THREE Tribes, Women, and Honor in the Age of Globalization
    (pp. 83-126)

    After my long journey across the Atlantic en route to Doha, I boarded the connecting British Airways flight in London along with a planeload of other Western-looking passengers. I traveled in business class, watching the latest American movies on the drop-down screen in front of me, eating snacks, and drinking tea. As the tiny image of our plane on the in-flight screen gradually approached the Arabian Peninsula, the topography below us changed dramatically. The sun was setting, and from my window I could see a vast ochre desert undulating toward the horizon. Our pilot announced that we would be arriving...

  7. FOUR Who Is Defining Islam after 9/11 and Why?
    (pp. 127-192)

    Within days of returning from Bali in mid-April 2006, after a long, disorienting flight across the Pacific and the United States to Washington, D.C., I was on the road again. The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia had invited me to a major international conference on Islam and the West—the speakers included a goodly sample of America’s high and mighty: Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger, Bernard Lewis, Joe Biden Jr., and Francis Fukuyama—combined with a celebration of the ninetieth birthday of renowned Princeton history professor Bernard Lewis.¹ Because of the status of the participants, the hotel and the neighborhood in...

  8. FIVE The Clash of Civilizations?
    (pp. 193-244)

    “The Muslim situation is so desperate. I would gladly give my life for their cause.” These were the chilling words of my dinner companion on a balmy spring evening in Amman. A seasoned diplomat in smart attire, complete with pink silk tie and handkerchief, this former Iraqi ambassador, now head of a major Arab think tank, spoke in measured and quiet tones shaped by years of service, making his message all the more forlorn: “I have nothing to live for. I have lost my culture, my homeland, my honor. I have lost my religion.”

    We were at the Tannoureen, an...

  9. SIX Lifting the Veil
    (pp. 245-268)

    Who cannot marvel at the capacity of the human spirit to expand and change? When I first met Aijaz, he seemed fully set in his opinions, one whose world consisted of simple, clear-cut categories that differentiated friends from foes and good religion from bad religion. Author ofJihad and Terrorism, he seemed obsessed with “American barbarism” and “Israeli barbarism.” There were no shades of gray in his worldview. Although intensely religious in a formal and orthodox manner, he had yet to develop a spiritual expansiveness that would coincide with the Quranic vision of a common humanity. Now, before me, was...

  10. EPILOGUE: The Hope of the World
    (pp. 269-274)

    As seems fitting, our journey to the Muslim world ends at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the city where it began. One of Washington’s most recognizable and renowned monuments, the National Cathedral sits atop the highest hill in Washington, its towers visible across the Potomac in Virginia. Built of white and grey stone in the Gothic style, this magnificent and awe-inspiring structure houses dazzling stained glass windows and elaborate chapels. The windows depict American scenes, one of which displays a rock brought back from the moon.

    It was a cold February afternoon, with high clouds blocking the sunlight. Inside...

  11. APPENDIX: Analysis of the Questionnaires
    (pp. 275-286)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 287-302)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 303-324)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-325)