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The Rise of Islamic Capitalism: Why the New Muslim Middle Class Is the Key to Defeating Extremismby Vali Nasr
Synopses & Reviews
Renowned Middle East expert Vali Nasr's bestselling The Shia Revival profoundly transformed the debate about the Iraq War by unveiling how the Sunni-Shia rift was driving the insurgency. Now, in Forces of Fortune, Nasr presents a paradigm-changing revelation that will transform the understanding of the Muslim world at large. He reveals that there is a vital but unseen rising force in the Islamic world — a new business-minded middle class — that is building a vibrant new Muslim world economy and that holds the key to winning the cold war against Iran and extremists.
His groundbreaking analysis will utterly rewrite the wisdom about how the West can best contend with the threat of Islamic extremism, as well as about what we can expect from the Muslim world in the future. The great battle for the soul of Iran, the Arab world, Pakistan, and the entire region will be fought not over religion, Nasr reveals, but over business and capitalism.
With a deft combination of historical narrative and eye-opening contemporary on-the-ground reporting from his constant trips to the region, Nasr takes us behind the news, so dominated by the struggle against extremists and the Taliban, to introduce a Muslim world we've not seen; a Muslim world in which the balance of power is being reshaped by an upwardly mobile middle class of entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, and avid consumers — who can tip the scales away from extremist belligerence. His insights into the true situations in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the crucial bright spots of Dubai and Turkey provide a whole new way of thinking about the troubles and prospects in the region.
Drawing on his in-depth knowledge of the Muslim world's tortured history, he offers a powerful reassessment of why both extremism and anti-Americanism took hold in the region — not because of an inevitable "clash of cultures" or the nature of Islam, but because of the failure of this kind of authentic middle class to develop in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, largely due to the insidious effects first of colonialism and then of top-down dictatorial regimes, often supported by the West. He then shows that the devoutly Islamic yet highly modern Muslims of what he calls the "critical middle" — in Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and the stealth force behind the extraordinary growth of aggressively capitalist Dubai — are finally the middle class the region has desperately needed. They are building a whole new economy — as the middle classes did in both India and China — and their distinctive blending of Islam and capitalism is the key to bringing about lasting reform and to defeating fundamentalism. They are people in the region the West can and must do business with.
Forces of Fortune offers a transformative understanding of the Muslim world and its possible future that is sure to spark lively debate and to play a vital role in bringing about a sea change in thinking about the conflict with Islam.
Leading authority on the Islamic world and influential advisor to the Obama administration Vali Nasr shows that the West’s best hope of winning the battle against Islamic extremists is to foster the growth of a vibrant new Muslim middle class. This flourishing of Muslim bourgeoisie is reshaping the mind-set, politics, and even the religious values of Muslims in much the same way the Western bourgeoisie lead the capitalist and democratic revolution in Europe. Whereas extremism has grown out of the dismal economic failures of the authoritarian Islamic regimes, Nasr explains, the wealth and aspirations of this Islamic “critical middle” put them squarely at odds with extremism. They have ushered in remarkable transformations already in Dubai, Turkey, and Indonesia, and they are the key to tipping the balance in both Iran and Pakistan. As he writes “the great battle for the soul of the Muslim world will be fought not over religion but over market capitalism.”
About the Author
Born in Iran, Vali Nasr is a professor of international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a senior fellow of The Dubai Initiative at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. His book The Shia Revival was a New York Times bestseller. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time and appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, The Situation Room, Fareed Zakaria GPS, The Today Show, and
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