Recent political upheavals such as the disintegration of the Soviet
Union and international crises such as the Salman Rushdie affair, the
collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the
Gulf War and 'ethnic cleansing' in Bosnia raise questions about the
nature of Islam and its relationship with the West that need urgent
consideration. Islam is the dominant world religion, followed by more
than a fifth of the world's population, and Muslims today cover the
world, from Samarkand in Central Asia to Stornoway in Scotland. But
what is Islam? Its history? Its culture? Its values? Akbar S. Ahmed,
one of the world's leading scholars on Islam, answers these fundamental
questions. He examines the conflict between Islam and the ideologies of
the West and the particular problems Muslims face in the modern world.
He considers three great Muslim empires, the Ottomans, the Safavids and
the Mughals, and three modern Muslim nations, Turkey, Iran and
Pakistan, which are inspired by them. He looks at the pressures,
conflicts and practices of Muslims living as minorities, whether in
India, Israel, the USA or the United Kingdom, including the impassioned
issue of racism. The grounding upon which the Muslim family, the key
element in Islamic life, is built, and the biased portrayal in the West
of Muslim women's subjugated position, are comprehensively discussed.
In the final chapter, he looks at the future of Islam and considers
where the key to a more peaceful and co-operative future lies. Living
Islam is a deeply thoughtful and accessible book which will help to
dispel Western prejudices and lead to a much greater understanding of
and respect for Islam.
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