Synopses & Reviews
Bernard Lewis is recognized around the globe as one of the leading authorities on Islam. Hailed as "the world's foremost Islamic scholar" (Wall Street Journal ), as "a towering figure among experts on the culture and religion of the Muslim world" (Baltimore Sun ), and as "the doyen of Middle Eastern studies" (New York Times ), Lewis is nothing less than a national treasure, a trusted voice that politicians, journalists, historians, and the general public have all turned to for insight into the Middle East.
Now, Lewis has brought together writings on religion and government in the Middle East, so different than in the Western world. The collection includes previously unpublished writings, English originals of articles published before only in foreign languages, and an introduction to the book by Lewis.
Acclaim for What Went Wrong?
A New York Times Bestseller
"Replete with the exceptional historical insight that one has come to expect from the world's foremost Islamic scholar."
--Karen Elliott House, Wall Street Journal
Lewis has done us all--Muslim and non-Muslim alike--a remarkable service.... The book's great strength, and its claim upon our attention, [is that] it offers a long view in the midst of so much short-term and confusing punditry on television, in the op-ed pages, on campuses and in strategic studies think tanks."
--Paul Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review
Acclaim for From Babel to Dragomans
"Lewis has long been considered the West's leading interpreter of Mideast culture and history, and this collection only solidifies his reputation."--National Review
"For more than four decades, Lewis has been one of the most respected scholars and prolific writers on the history and politics of the Middle East. In this compilation of more than 50 journal articles and essays, he displays the full range of his eloquence, knowledge, and insight regarding this pivotal and volatile region."--Booklist
"Well-known Middle East historian and analyst Lewis collects essays and speeches in his latest book, rather incoherently organized around the titular theme of 'faith and power.' Since the text lacks footnotes, the reader may wonder if Lewis is presenting historical fact or his own opinions, weighted toward a dark view of Islam, which could explain his appeal to neoconservatives. His assertions, for instance, that early Muslims had no respect for or understanding of Christianity and that Muhammad 'conquered' Mecca run contrary to what many other scholars, as well as practicing Muslims, write and believe. His understanding of the Qur'an is shallow; he criticizes the Muslim term khalifa, meaning caliph or leader, as showing Muslim ambition because of the term's vagueness, but the Qur'an specifically cites the term khalifa in a well-known verse enjoining Muslims to be the vice-regents or 'khalifas' of God on Earth. In his chapter analyzing Osama bin Ladin's fatwa against the United States, he fails to mention that fatwas are not binding on Muslims, misleading the reader into believing that Muslims, on the whole, abide by them. His obstinately Eurocentric view has him criticizing Muslims for all manner of far-flung vices, such as failing to learn European languages and music. Readers looking to learn more about Islam and the Middle East should seek a less rigid text." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
and#8220;Professor Gregg has produced a highly accessible contribution to an important and contentious area of study. Highlighting the interpretive enterprise, she explores the complex variables at play in the relationship between religion and violence on a global scale, while giving special attention to notions of salvation (both otherworldly and worldly) in five major religious traditions. Her nuanced and even-handed approach to this charged topic must be commended.and#8221;and#8212;Jeffry R. Halverson, author of Searching for a King: Muslim Nonviolence and the Future of Islam
and#8220;Anyone wishing to understand the phenomenon of Al-Qaand#8217;ida and other Muslim extremist groups will definitely profit from Dr. Greggand#8217;s deeply reasoned comparisons of violence and extremist views common to all religions which she assures us are the exception, not the norm.and#8221;and#8212;Robert Brenton Betts, author of The Druze and The Southern Portals of Byzantiumand#160;
and#8220;The dark attraction between religion and violence is probed in this intriguing analysis that sees violence justified as a means of salvation by religious activists defending their faith and communities. It examines case studies from the Christian crusades to Jewish Zionist extremism, from Islamic Jihad movements to the Hindu far right. This penetrating and comprehensive study is a significant contribution to the growing literature on religion and violence.and#8221;and#8212;Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence
In the wake of 9/11, policy analysts, journalists, and academics have tried to make sense of the rise of militant Islam, particularly its role as a motivating and legitimating force for violence against the United States. The general perception is that Islam is more violence-prone than other religions and that scripture and beliefs within the faith, such as the doctrines of jihad and martyrdom, demonstrate the inherently violent nature of Islam.
and#160;Here, however, Heather Selma Gregg draws comparisons across religious traditions to investigate common causes of religious violence. The author sets side-by-side examples of current and historic Islamic violence with similar acts by Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu adherents.
and#160;Based on her findings, Gregg challenges the assumption that religious violence stems from a faithand#8217;s scriptures. Instead, Gregg argues that religious violence is the result of interpretations of a religionand#8217;s beliefs and scriptures. Interpretations calling for violence in the name of a faith are the product of individuals, but it is important to understand the conditions under which these violent interpretations of a religion occur. These conditions must be considered by identifying who is interpreting the religion and by what authority; the social, political, and economic circumstances surrounding these violent interpretations; and the believability of these interpretations by members of religious communities.
About the Author
HEATHER SELMA GREGG is an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate Schooland#8217;s Department of Defense Analysis. Prior to joining the faculty at NPS, she was an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. In addition to academic experience, she has spent time in several regions of conflict including Palestine/West Bank, Croatia, and Bosnia.
Table of Contents
Tentative TOC (final contents and order TK)
Propaganda in the Middle East
Democracy and Religion in the Middle East
Peace and Freedom in the Middle East
Democracy, Legitimacy and Succession in the Middle East
Europe and Islam
Religion and Politics in Islam and Judaism
Gender and the Clash of Civilizations
Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East