The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times

By | October 8, 2017
The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times Author Christopher de Bellaigue
ISBN-10 0871403730
ISBN-13 9780871403735
Year 2017-04-04
Pages 432
Language English
Publisher Liveright
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A revelatory and game changing narrative that rewrites everything we thought we knew about the modern history of the Islamic world With majestic prose Christopher de Bellaigue presents an absorbing account of the political and social reformations that transformed the lands of Islam in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Flying in the face of everything we thought we knew The Islamic Enlightenment becomes an astonishing and revelatory history that offers a game changing assessment of the Middle East since the Napoleonic Wars Beginning his account in 1798 de Bellaigue demonstrates how Middle Eastern heartlands have long welcomed modern ideals and practices including the adoption of modern medicine the emergence of women from seclusion and the development of democracy With trenchant political and historical insight de Bellaigue further shows how the violence of an infinitesimally small minority is in fact the tragic blowback from these modernizing processes Structuring his groundbreaking history around Istanbul Cairo and Tehran the three main loci of Islamic culture de Bellaigue directly challenges ossified perceptions of a supposedly benighted Muslim world through the forgotten and inspiring stories of philosophers anti clerics journalists and feminists who opened up their societies to political and intellectual emancipation His sweeping and vivid account includes remarkable men and women from across the Muslim world including Ibrahim Sinasi who brought newspapers to Istanbul Mirza Saleh Shirzi whose Persian memoirs describe how the Turkish harems were finally shuttered and Qurrat al Ayn an Iranian noble woman who defied her husband to become a charismatic prophet What makes The Islamic Enlightenment particularly germane is that non Muslim pundits in the post 9 11 erahave repeatedly called for Islam to subject itself to the transformations that the West has already achieved since the Enlightenmentthe absurd implication being that if Muslims do not stop reading or following the tenets of the Quran and other holy books they will never emerge from a benighted state of backwardness The Islamic Enlightenment with its revolutionary argument completely refutes this view and in the process reveals the folly of Westerners demanding modernity from those whose lives are already drenched in it 8 pages of color and 8 pages of black and white illustrations

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