The Making of the Muslim World

Malik, Kenan

Publisher:  Kenan Malik
Date Written:  12/06/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21074

Review of Christopher de Bellaigue's 'The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason', Cemil Aydin's 'The Idea of the Muslim World: A Global Intellectual History' and Tariq Ramadan's 'Islam: The Essentials'.



This sense of a fundamental separation between Islam and the West has been ex-acerbated by the rise of Islamism and the emergence of Islamic State. Some Muslims are attracted to IS because of a deep loathing for the West. Many in the West regard that support as evidence for the incompatibility of Western and Islamic values. Christopher de Bellaigue’s The Islamic Enlightenment and Cemil Aydin’s The Idea of the Muslim World, in very different ways, try to explain the historical shifts that have made what once seemed necessary and rational now appear impossible and self-deluding.

The starting point of de Bellaigue's luminous work is the oft-made claim that 'Islam needs its Enlightenment'. De Bellaigue argues, on the contrary, that for the past two centuries, 'Islam has been going through a pained yet exhilarating transformation- a Reformation, an Enlightenment and an Industrial Revolution all at once.' What is distinctive about the Islamic world today, he writes, is that it is under the heel of a counter-Enlightenment, a development visible in particular through the emergence of Islamism, of which Islamic State -- the group that has claimed responsibility for terror attacks in Europe, including the latest atrocities in London and Manchester – is the most grotesque expression.
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