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Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still

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Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still Cover

ISBN13: 9780691129112
ISBN10: 0691129118
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Lost in the Sacred poses questions about the Muslim world that no other book by a Western writer has dared to ask. Focusing on the Arab Middle East, Dan Diner asks what caused the Muslim world to lag behind so dramatically. Is Western dominance to blame? Or is the problem even with Islam itself? These questions, however unsettling, need to be asked--and they are being posed all across the Muslim world today. This book provides cautious answers that are no less disturbing than the questions.

Diner argues that Islam's cultural stasis is not due to the Muslim faith itself, but to the nature of the sacred it is infused with and that penetrates every aspect of life--spiritual and material. He reveals how the sacred in Islam suspends the acceleration of social time, hinders change, and circumvents secularization and modernity. Diner takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual journey, from today's global conflicts back into the distant past. He describes the Muslim encounter with the emerging West in early modernity, the challenges Western imperial expansion posed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the time-suspending impact of Arabic as a sacred language, the prevention of print, the classical age of Islam with its dazzling heights of learning and culture--and much more. Diner traces an entangled perspective, combining the spiritual with the social, and the cultural with the political. Throughout, he draws our attention to the urgent need for secularization and modernization in Islam.

The Muslim world is in crisis. Lost in the Sacred explains why.

Review:

"Diner (Beyond the Conceivable) offers an unsettling 'intervention' into why the Middle East is 'falling behind' and deprived of 'the fruits of modernity.' While the book raises worthy questions, they are undermined by the author's apparent contempt for both Arabs and Islam. Diner's refusal to acknowledge the extent to which outside factors have played a role in the development of the modern Middle East, his apparent scorn for the faith of a billion people and his occasional lapses into ahistorical judgment (dispensing with centuries of centralized Ottoman rule, for instance, by asserting that because Turkey and the Arab countries were once part of the Ottoman Empire 'we can assume that they started out from similar, or even identical, conditions for development') mean that this book will more likely become the source of angry argument than serious deliberation. Few cultures or faith communities would take kindly to Diner's suggestion that 'the West, as a burning preoccupation, might be able to enlighten Middle Easterners about themselves.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Lost in the Sacred poses questions about the Muslim world that no other book by a Western writer has dared to ask. Focusing on the Arab Middle East, Dan Diner asks what caused the Muslim world to lag behind so dramatically. Is Western dominance to blame? Or is the problem even with Islam itself? These questions, however unsettling, need to be asked--and they are being posed all across the Muslim world today. This book provides cautious answers that are no less disturbing than the questions.

Diner argues that Islam's cultural stasis is not due to the Muslim faith itself, but to the nature of the sacred it is infused with and that penetrates every aspect of life--spiritual and material. He reveals how the sacred in Islam suspends the acceleration of social time, hinders change, and circumvents secularization and modernity. Diner takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual journey, from today's global conflicts back into the distant past. He describes the Muslim encounter with the emerging West in early modernity, the challenges Western imperial expansion posed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the time-suspending impact of Arabic as a sacred language, the prevention of print, the classical age of Islam with its dazzling heights of learning and culture--and much more. Diner traces an entangled perspective, combining the spiritual with the social, and the cultural with the political. Throughout, he draws our attention to the urgent need for secularization and modernization in Islam.

The Muslim world is in crisis. Lost in the Sacred explains why.

Synopsis:

"Dan Diner's breadth of knowledge, capacity for clear and broad interpretation, and stylistic sovereignty will no doubt make this a classic in the field."--Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

"A controversial but refreshingly un-Anglo-Saxon search for answers to some outsized questions."--Michael Cook, Princeton University

"Lost in the Sacred offers a broad synthesis on a key problem of the contemporary Middle East, hence of the world at large. It sets out to describe and account for a strange historical phenomenon: how is it that the Arab world so slowly changes--nay, came to some sort of a standstill? Diner handles the best sources and secondary literature with great skill and literary talent."--Rémi Brague, author of The Law of God

About the Author

Dan Diner is professor of modern history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig. His books include "Beyond the Conceivable: Studies on Germany, Nazism, and the Holocaust" and "Cataclysms: A History of the Twentieth Century from Europe's Edge".

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1

Chapter 1: KNOWLEDGE AND DEVELOPMENT
The State of the Arab World 11
"Orientalism" and Its Adversaries
Rifa'ah at-Tahtawi and the Arab Human Development Report
Language and Social Lifeworlds
Knowledge and Technology
Freedom and Prosperity
Power and Benefit
Military and Politics
Mehmed Ali and Gamal Abdel Nasser
Ground Rent and Productivity
Oil Wealth and Stasis

Chapter 2: GEOPOLITICS AND RELIGIOUS ZEAL
Radicalization in the Muslim East 38
Between Palestine and Kashmir
Cold War and Decolonization
England and Russia
Gladstone and Disraeli
Caliphate and Pan-Islam
Kemal Pasha and Enver Pasha
Hindus and Muslims
Colonialism and Alienation
Arabism and Islamism
Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb
Political Th eology and Civil War

Chapter 3: TEXT AND SPEECH
The Rejection of the Printing Press 69
One God, One Book
Mechanical Reproduction and Profanation
Consonants and Vowels
Arabic and Hebrew
Baruch Spinoza and Walter Benjamin
Romanization and Secularization
Recitation and Reading
Literacy and Diglossia
Fusha and Ammiya

Chapter 4: RISE AND DECLINE
Ottoman Perplexities in the Early Modern Period 96
Europe and Asia
Ottomans and the New World
Gold and Silver
Piri Reis and Selim I
Mamluks and Venetians
ThePrice Revolution and Mercantilism
Janissaries and Bureaucrats
Merchants and Craftsmen
Inflation and Rebellion
Stasis or Crisis
Mustafa Ali and Katip Çelebi

Chapter 5: POLITICAL POWER AND ECONOMIC BENEFIT
Muslim Social Environment in the Classical Age 126
Desert and Steppe
Tribute and Tax
Central Power and Urban Culture
Umayyads and Abbasids
Mercenaries and Traders
Polis and Medina
"Public" and "Private"
Benefices and Capital
Labor and Property
Time and Liturgy
Ethics and Morals
Sacred and Profane

Chapter 6: HISTORICAL THOUGHT AND DIVINE LAW
Converting Sacred into Profane Time 153
Acceleration or Deceleration
Law and History
Cyclical versus Linear Time
Ibn Khaldun and Giambattista Vico
Past Utopias and Future Worlds
Islam and Judaism
Leo Strauss and Moses Maimonides
Dual Law and Dual Time
Muhammad Asad and Moses Mendelssohn
Law of the Land and Secularization

Notes 181
Index of Proper Names 211

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

imdad132, March 15, 2011 (view all comments by imdad132)
Dan Diner has written a magnificent book on Islam, the hot topic in today's world. The author traces the history of Islam and compares it with other civilizations, and then point out that the factors hindering the course of modernity and progress in Islamic world, and especially in case of Middle East. I believe the author is bit unaware and at times unjust figuring out the real stumbling block in the advancement of Islam. I think the problem lies with political Islam and it is only because Islam like other religions did not provide any political blueprint to run the affairs of state; while Muslim rulers in the past and even today are fearful of carving out a workable political system, whose basics are laid down in Quran. Also, I understand that Islam as religion is the most modern and up to date religion, yet the most underdeveloped and faltering political system. Islam provided the essence of today's democracy that is the concept of social welfare state, fourteen hundred years ago. But with the passage of time Islamic rulers lost this treasure due to their personal weaknesses and myopic attitude.
With due apologize to the author, I believe that solution to the sorry state of affairs in today's Middle East lies inside the region and any foreign attempt to install development will impede the indigenous awakening and one tyrant will get replaced by another more cruel despot.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
imdad132, March 15, 2011 (view all comments by imdad132)
Dan Diner has written a magnificent book on Islam, the hot topic in today's world. The author traces the history of Islam and compares it with other civilizations, and then point out that the factors hindering the course of modernity and progress in Islamic world, and especially in case of Middle East. I believe the author is bit unaware and at times unjust figuring out the real stumbling block in the advancement of Islam. I think the problem lies with political Islam and it is only because Islam like other religions did not provide any political blueprint to run the affairs of state; while Muslim rulers in the past and even today are fearful of carving out a workable political system, whose basics are laid down in Quran. Also, I understand that Islam as religion is the most modern and up to date religion, yet the most underdeveloped and faltering political system. Islam provided the essence of today's democracy that is the concept of social welfare state, fourteen hundred years ago. But with the passage of time Islamic rulers lost this treasure due to their personal weaknesses and myopic attitude.
With due apologize to the author, I believe that solution to the sorry state of affairs in today's Middle East lies inside the region and any foreign attempt to install development will impede the indigenous awakening and one tyrant will get replaced by another more cruel despot.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691129112
Author:
Diner, Dan
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Translator:
Redall, Steven
Translator:
Rendall, Steven
Author:
Rendall, Steven
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
History
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
World - General
Subject:
Middle East - General
Subject:
Islam -- History.
Subject:
Islamic Studies
Subject:
Middle East
Subject:
Middle Eastern Studies
Subject:
World History/Comparative History
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Islamic countries History.
Subject:
Islamic countries Civilization.
Subject:
World History-Middle East
Copyright:
Publication Date:
February 2009
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Sociology » Islamic Studies
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East
Religion » Islam » History

Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Still New Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691129112 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Diner (Beyond the Conceivable) offers an unsettling 'intervention' into why the Middle East is 'falling behind' and deprived of 'the fruits of modernity.' While the book raises worthy questions, they are undermined by the author's apparent contempt for both Arabs and Islam. Diner's refusal to acknowledge the extent to which outside factors have played a role in the development of the modern Middle East, his apparent scorn for the faith of a billion people and his occasional lapses into ahistorical judgment (dispensing with centuries of centralized Ottoman rule, for instance, by asserting that because Turkey and the Arab countries were once part of the Ottoman Empire 'we can assume that they started out from similar, or even identical, conditions for development') mean that this book will more likely become the source of angry argument than serious deliberation. Few cultures or faith communities would take kindly to Diner's suggestion that 'the West, as a burning preoccupation, might be able to enlighten Middle Easterners about themselves.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Lost in the Sacred poses questions about the Muslim world that no other book by a Western writer has dared to ask. Focusing on the Arab Middle East, Dan Diner asks what caused the Muslim world to lag behind so dramatically. Is Western dominance to blame? Or is the problem even with Islam itself? These questions, however unsettling, need to be asked--and they are being posed all across the Muslim world today. This book provides cautious answers that are no less disturbing than the questions.

Diner argues that Islam's cultural stasis is not due to the Muslim faith itself, but to the nature of the sacred it is infused with and that penetrates every aspect of life--spiritual and material. He reveals how the sacred in Islam suspends the acceleration of social time, hinders change, and circumvents secularization and modernity. Diner takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual journey, from today's global conflicts back into the distant past. He describes the Muslim encounter with the emerging West in early modernity, the challenges Western imperial expansion posed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the time-suspending impact of Arabic as a sacred language, the prevention of print, the classical age of Islam with its dazzling heights of learning and culture--and much more. Diner traces an entangled perspective, combining the spiritual with the social, and the cultural with the political. Throughout, he draws our attention to the urgent need for secularization and modernization in Islam.

The Muslim world is in crisis. Lost in the Sacred explains why.

"Synopsis" by ,

"Dan Diner's breadth of knowledge, capacity for clear and broad interpretation, and stylistic sovereignty will no doubt make this a classic in the field."--Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

"A controversial but refreshingly un-Anglo-Saxon search for answers to some outsized questions."--Michael Cook, Princeton University

"Lost in the Sacred offers a broad synthesis on a key problem of the contemporary Middle East, hence of the world at large. It sets out to describe and account for a strange historical phenomenon: how is it that the Arab world so slowly changes--nay, came to some sort of a standstill? Diner handles the best sources and secondary literature with great skill and literary talent."--Rémi Brague, author of The Law of God

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