The Early Days of a Better Nation

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Informed Book

Juan Cole's blog Informed Comment has been a voice of reason, and an indispensable news portal, on the Middle East for the past six years. Cole's new book, Engaging the Muslim World, deals with the issues in greater depth. Cole's approach and recommendations are far from radical, being pitched as advice to the new US administration, but his arguments and evidence amount to a serious and sustained demolition of the commonplace notion that what's going on is a war between 'the West' and Islam.


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Thanks Ken. I will ask the nice people at the University Library to order it.

That's just the kind of response I'd hoped for. Dear readers, if you can't afford the hardback, ask your libraries to order this book and wait for the paperback.

Who has the best price on this book?

For my own sake, I had been planning on reading up on the softer side of islam, the sufis, through Inayat Khan's books.

As for muslims and muslims and other muslims again, I wonder why the media and government listen so much to imams and radicals when all (with possibly one exception) of the muslims I know "off the street" have opinions not even close to those of these "media jockeys of islam"?

Solan, I don't know about best price for the book. Re radicals not being representative of most Muslims, there's quite a lot about that in Cole's book. Kenan Malik has an interesting take on why the media and government listen so much to radical or very conservative figures. You can probably find a lot about his views on spiked.

Since we are talking about books with opinions and data on quite topical subjects, it might be worth one's while to look at this handy page that I just received from the Book Depository: .


I have been skimming trough the book. I was particularly interested in the chapter "The Wahhabhi myth: from Riyadh to Doha".

Studying Islam has been my main hobby for the past 8 years, I started doing so in Novemebr 2001.
And I have also lived in some muslim countries.

I strongly disagree with Mr. Juan Cole on the matter of Wahhabhism/Salafism not being the root cause of the conflict on the Islamic side. This ideology is not only endangering the Western civilization it is also holding the vast majority of the Muslim world as hostages. His analysis are quite shallow on the matter and his attempt to differentiate the Wahhabhi groups and Shia groups as something else and as a different ideology on its own are mind numbing. Not to mention that the Shia cause stems from oppression and not from political motives.

In fact what bothers me the most is that Mr. Juan Cole uses the same apologetic methodology as many Wahhabhi/Salafi clerics and followers, when they wish to disguise their teachings and ideology in order to justify their beliefs and ways. And especially when they wish to distance them selves from their "cousins", whom they trained and breed.

Mr. Juan Cole`s chapter 5 "Pakistan and Afghanistan: Beyond the Taliban". Is useless, in my opinion. I do not have to explain that, just see how the events will fold out over time.

For me the whole deal is simple, in order "To engage the Muslim world" one has to understand what makes them Muslim, namely their religion Islam. And one cannot understand Islam unless one studies how, when and why Islam spread trough out the world. One must also study the personalities whom spread Islam.

Other books which are better to read on the topic are :

The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power
by As`ad AbuKhalil

Bin Laden, Islam, and America's New "War on Terrorism"
by As`ad Abu Khalil

Terrorism: Theirs and Ours
by Eqbal Ahmad

Both these authors are atheists and leftist. (I am neither an theist or a leftist. But these two authors display understanding beyond the vast majority of the scholars whom have written to subject).

Posted above, I should mention that I am a Muslim and have lived in Pakistan. (Sorry for all the mistakes!)

Anon, I'm sure the best place to take up these issues is at Dr Cole's blog. Pakistan is a hot topic at the moment.

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