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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

Add a comment for a chance to win!
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:
Rendall, Steven
Translator:
Redall, 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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