Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World
by Akbar S. Ahmed
American University, Washington DC, USA
(See also SARID People)
Polity Press, UK, May 2003,
ISBN hardback 0745622097, 224 pp, $ 54.95, £45.00
ISBN paperback 0745622100, 224 pp, $19.95, £12.99
Table of Contents
Other Works on & about Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: God’s Gamble
Chapter 1. Islam under Siege
i The Return of Anthropology and the Final Crusade
ii The Sense of Muslim Siege
Chapter 2. What is Going Wrong?
i Is it about Islam or is it Globalization?
ii A Post-Honor World?
Chapter 3. Ibn Khaldun and Social Cohesion
i The Khaldunian Breakdown
ii The Man in the Iron Cage
Chapter 4. The Failure of Muslim Leadership
i. Muslim Leaders
ii. Veiled Truth: Women in Islam
Chapter 5. Searching for a Muslim Ideal:
i Case Study One: The Scholarship of Inclusion
ii Inclusivists in America: Islam in Toledo, Ohio
Chapter 6. Searching for a Muslim Ideal: Exclusion
i Case Study Two: The Scholarship of Exclusion
ii Exclusivists in America: The Debate in Cleveland, Ohio
Chapter .7 Toward a Global Paradigm
i The Challenge for Islam
ii Questions for our Time
Polity Press, UK
In this groundbreaking book, Akbar Ahmed, one of the world’s
leading authorities on Islam, who has worked in the Muslim world
but lives in the West, explains what is going wrong in his society
by referring to Islamic history and beliefs. Employing theological
and anthropological perspectives, he attempts to answer the
questions that people in the West are asking about Islam: "Why
do they hate us?" "Is Islam compatible with democracy?"
"Does Islam subjugate women?" "Does the Quran
preach violence?" These important questions are of relevance
to Muslims and to non-Muslims alike. Islam Under Siege points
out the need for, and provides the route to, the dialogue of
September 11, 2001, underlined the role of Islam in our time.
In its demographic spread, its political span, and its religious
commitment, Islam will be an increasingly forceful presence
on the world stage in the twenty-first century. While some scholars
predict that there will be a clash of civilizations, others
see a need for a dialogue of civilizations.
This book will help students, scholars of politics, sociology,
international relations, and cultural studies, and reporters
as well as a more general audience interested in some of the
most important issues of our time.
"The 21st century will be the century of Islam," writes
Ahmed, who holds a chair in Islamic Studies at American University
in Washington, D.C. Moreover, the 21st century may be "a
time of war between Islam and... other world civilizations."
Ahmed resists easy characterizations of Islam, always striving
to offer a balanced depiction: Islam is both exclusivist and
inclusivist, respectful of women but also mired in some cultural
traditions that oppress them. Some portions of the book are
dry and theoretical, and the academic jargon makes for slow
reading. Other sections are fascinating and engaging--particularly
Ahmed's ethnographic explorations of different pockets of Muslim
life. He shares his difficult personal experiences as a scholar
who spearheaded a controversial film study of Pakistan founder
M.A. Jinnah, and concludes: "Looking at the breakdown of
society for a Muslim scholar is like staring into the face of
despair." In the next section, however, he communicates
his optimism after visiting the inclusive, tolerant Muslim community
in Toledo, Ohio.
USA, June 3, 2003
A new book by Muslim scholar Akbar S. Ahmed, examines the turmoil
currently facing Islam around the globe. In Islam Under Siege,
Ahmed explains what is going wrong in the Muslim world, why
it is going wrong and how Muslims and non-Muslims can work together
to create global stability.
According to Ahmed, one of the principal culprits behind the
misunderstanding between Islam and the West is the media. Ahmed
criticizes how the media portray the debate on Islam. He writes
that the debate is “too often little more than a parading
of deep-rooted prejudices.”...
Asia Times, Hongkong, June 28, 2003 - by Ahmed Faruki
Professor Akbar Ahmed's latest book, Islam Under Siege, takes
head on the challenges facing the Muslims in the aftermath of
the events of September 11. The book deals with the plights
of Muslims from the vantage point of reflexive sociology, and
certain parts of it constitute an ambassador's memoir.
After reviewing the driving forces that have placed the Muslims
and the West in conflict with each other, he argues that a just,
compassionate and peaceful global order would be created if
both parties would become inclusive in their thinking, and engage
in a dialogue of civilizations.
Ahmed has penned a must-read book. Part memoir and part exposition
in social science, it should be required reading for scholars,
policy makers and opinion leaders in both the Muslim world and
Dawn, Karachi, June
28, 2003 - by Bapsi Sidhwa
Islam Under Siege is a compelling and cogent book, and most
importantly, given the current misrepresentation surrounding
Islam, written in a language that is understood in the west,
and respected by its intellectuals.
He explains convincingly the moral collapse of societies in
what he calls our "Post-Honor World" in which the
Muslims feel that the west has humiliated them and stripped
them of dignity and honour. The equation of honour with violence
is one consequence of this confusion.
He addresses many of the key issues surrounding western perceptions
of Islam: Islamic attitudes toward Christianity and the West,
Islam and democracy, Islamic attitudes toward women, and the
Quran's stance on violence. These issues are enormously significant
to Muslims and non-Muslims alike and, with this in mind, Ahmed
points out the need for, and provides the route to, the dialogue
This book will appeal to all those interested in the future
of the complex relationship between East and West and its implications
for both cultures.
Asia Tribune , August 24, 2003
Prof. Ahmed's lucid and sensitive work has most brilliantly
put an end to any simplistic concepts that have long viewed
all Muslims as "terrorists" or Islam as the "enemy
of the West.
"This brief but brilliant book should be required reading
for all Members of Congress and our Nation's Cabinet, as well
as for most of the Pentagon's top brass. Prof. Ahmed has shed
light on a subject too long dealt with in doomsday cliches that
he has most wisely dispelled, giving us hope for a brighter
future of Peace and civilized reconciliation rather than endless
War and violent hatred. He has left all literate people the
world over in his debt. more
Johnstone, August 26, 2003
For all the scholarship and pseudo-scholarship that
has been written about Islam in the two years since September
11th, there are many fundamental questions about the state of
the world and the cause for the violence of that day that remain
unanswered. Perhaps no question has been more tortured than
President Bush’s now famous rhetorical muse: “why
do they hate us?” The plethora of answers from all corners
has provided little solace, and even less peace.
September 11, 2003
Two years after that fateful day that unsettled American lives
and radically shifted national priorities, it appears that little
has been accomplished in one area crucial to shaping a secure
future: Even as the country's resources are focused on the war
on terrorism and rebuilding Iraq, 68 percent of Americans say
they know little or nothing at all about Islam. Yet rising numbers
(44 percent, up from 25 percent in March 2002) say that Islam
is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among
its followers, according to a Pew Research Center poll released
last week. Americans seem willing to reach conclusions, though
admittedly with little knowledge.
Islam has been an almost endless topic of discussion since 9/11,
through a multitude of parallel (yet independent) discourses.
Rare has been the project that attempts to document these various
perspectives and simultaneously rise above them. This is precisely
what Akbar Ahmed succeeds in doing, and he does so brilliantly.
"This is the most important book to date on life in the
post 9/11 world. Islam Under Siege goes beyond assigning guilt,
to understanding the world that has produced such hatred and
misunderstanding. In this sometimes personal and consistently
courageous meditation on the uncertainties of our time, Akbar
Ahmed offers hope by focusing on shared notions of honor and
Tamara Sonn, President of the American Council for the Study
of Islamic Societies
“Akbar Ahmed is one of the wisest and bravest writers
on Islam. This work confirms his reputation as a savant in the
field.” Chris Rojek, Nottingham Trent University
“Akbar Ahmed’s understanding of the relationship
between politics and culture sets him apart from other analysts
of contemporary Islam.”
Louis W. Goodman, Dean, School of International Service,
Professor Akbar Ahmed is probably the world's best known scholar
on contemporary Islam. He is the former High Commissioner of
Pakistan to Great Britain, and has advised Prince Charles and
met with President George W. Bush on Islam. He is now Ibn Khaldun
Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of International Relations
at American University in Washington, DC.
Dr. Ahmed is the author of many books on contemporary Islam,
including Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History
and Society, which was the basis of the BBC six-part TV series
called Living Islam. His Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament
and Promise was nominated for the Amalfi Award, and his "Jinnah
Quartet," a four-part project on Pakistan's founding father,
M.A. Jinnah, has won numerous international awards.
Other works by & on Akbar Ahmed
(See SARID People,
Religious Dimension: Interfaith Dialogue)