Description - Islam by Vartan Gregorian
After World War II, leading western powers focused their attention on fighting the "red menace", communism. As terrorist activity is increasingly linked to militant Islamism, some western leaders and scholars fear a "green menace", a pan-Islamic totalitarian movement fuelled by monolithic Muslim ideology. Such fears have no foundation in history, according to Vartan Gregorian. In this survey of the world's fastest-growing religion, Gregorian focuses on Muslim diversity and division, portraying the faith and its people as a mosaic, not a monolith. The book begins with an overview of Islam's tenets, institutions, evolution and historical role. Gregorian traces its origins and fundamental principles, from Muhammad's call to faith nearly 1400 years ago to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and the subsequent abolition of the Caliphate.
He focuses particular attention on the intense struggle between modernists and traditionalists, interaction between religion and nationalism, and key developments that have caused bitter divisions among Muslim nations and states: the partition of Palestine, the break up and Islamization of Pakistan, the 1978 revolution in Iran, and the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In the 21st century, Islamist views range across the entire spectrum of religious and political thought, and Islamism is anything but a unified movement. While religious extremists have attempted to form a confederacy of like-minded radicals in many countries, much of the Muslim population lives in relatively modern secular states. Gregorian urges Westerners to distinguish between activist Islamist parties, which promote - sometimes violently - Islam as an ideology in a theocratic state, and Islamist parties, whose traditional members want their secular political systems to coexist with the moral principles of their religion. Gregorian insists that US cities cannot afford to remain ignorant about a faith shared by nearly one-fifth of the world's population.
He recommends continuing dialogues between modernist and traditionalist Muslims, as well as among the educated, secular elite and their clerical counterparts. He also urges US-led efforts to engage and better understand the diversity of Muslim communities in the United States and in the world.
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Publisher: Brookings Institution
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Author Biography - Vartan Gregorian
Vartan Gregorian is president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Born in Tabriz, Iran of Armenian parents, he received his elementary education in Iran, secondary education in Lebanon, and higher education in the United States. He has served as president of Brown University, president of the New York Public Library, and founding dean and provost of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. President Clinton awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 1998.