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BOOKS

Living Islam: From Samarkand to Stornoway
Akbar Ahmed
Adjunct Scholar

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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