BooksPath Reviews


Religion And Politics In Muslim Society By Akbar S. Ahmed

Posted in Politics by bookspath on March 13, 2007

Religion And Politics In Muslim SocietyThis analysis of Muslim unrest is based on an extended case study of northwestern Pakistan. Professor Ahmed examines power, authority, and religious status as the critical intermediary level of society: that of the district or Agency, which was the key unit of administration in British India. Amhed has joined his insights as anthropologist with his experience as a political agent in Waziristan to produce an innovative and detailed work. The book focuses on the emergence of a mullah in Waziristan who challenges the state. A religious leader’s challenge of the state is not new; but contemporary Muslim society’s widespread concern over these conflicts reveals that the influence of religion in a traditional society undergoing modernization is greater than many scholars have assumed. The author identifies three types of leaders: traditional leaders, usually elders; representatives of the established state authority; and religious functionaries. From this analysis he constructs an ‘Islamic district paradigm,’ which he uses not only in making sense of contemporary Muslim society, but also in understanding some aspects of the legacy of the colonial encounter.

After Terror: Promoting Dialogue among Civilizations By Akbar Ahmed, Brian Forst

Posted in Religious by bookspath on March 13, 2007

Promoting Dialogue among CivilizationsAfter Terror presents sustained reflections by some of the world’s most celebrated thinkers on the most pressing question of our time: how can we find ways to defuse the ticking bombs of terrorism and excessive interventions against it? It offers an antidote to the fatalistic global holy war perspective that afflicts much contemporary thought, focusing instead on the principles, issues, and acts needed to shift course from alienation and conflict to a path of sanity and goodwill among cultures and civilizations.The central aim of the book is to advance contemporary thinking on the causes and implications of 9/11 and thus provide the essential elements of a blueprint for humanity. It features 28 original essays by some of the world’s leading public figures, scholars, and religious leaders, including Benjamin Barber, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Amitai Etzioni, Bernard Lewis, Martin Marty, Queen Noor, Joseph Nye, Judea Pearl, Jonathan Sacks, Ravi Shankar, Bishop Desmond Tutu, E.O. Wilson and James D. Wolfensohn.After Terror attests to the power of dialogue and mutual understanding and the possibility of tolerance, respect, cooperation, and commitment. Without ignoring the dangers of the modern world, it points to a future in which people can celebrate both the fundamental sentiments and interests that we share and the diversities that make us human.

Happy Death By Albert Camus

Posted in Philosophy by bookspath on March 12, 2007

Happy Death

In his first novel, A Happy Death, written when he was in his early twenties and retrieved from his private papers following his death in I960, Albert Camus laid the foundation for The Stranger, focusing in both works on an Algerian clerk who kills a man in cold blood. But he also revealed himself to an extent that he never would in his later fiction. For if A Happy Death is the study of a rule-bound being shattering the fetters of his existence, it is also a remarkably candid portrait of its author as a young man.

As the novel follows the protagonist, Patrice Mersault, to his victim’s house — and then, fleeing, in a journey that takes him through stages of exile, hedonism, privation, and death -it gives us a glimpse into the imagination of one of the great writers of the twentieth century. For here is the young Camus himself, in love with the sea and sun, enraptured by women yet disdainful of romantic love, and already formulating the philosophy of action and moral responsibility that would make him central to the thought of our time.

Translated from the French by Richard Howard

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Islam and the Challenge of Democracy: A “Boston Review” Book (Boston Review Book)By Khaled Abou El Fadl

Posted in Religious by bookspath on March 12, 2007

The events of September 11 and the subsequent war on terrorism have provoked widespread discussion about the possibility of democracy in the Islamic world. Such topics as the meaning of jihad, the role of clerics as authoritative interpreters, and the place of human rights and toleration in Islam have become subjects of urgent public debate around the world. With few exceptions, however, this debate has proceeded in isolation from the vibrant traditions of argument within Islamic theology, philosophy, and law.

Islam and the Challenge of Democracy aims to correct this deficiency. The book engages the reader in a rich discourse on the challenges of democracy in contemporary Islam. The collection begins with a lead essay by Khaled Abou El Fadl, who argues that democracy, especially a constitutional democracy that protects basic individual rights, is the form of government best suited to promoting a set of social and political values central to Islam. Because Islam is about submission to God and about each individual’s responsibility to serve as His agent on Earth, Abou El Fadl argues, there is no place for the subjugation to human authority demanded by authoritarian regimes. The lead essay is followed by eleven others from internationally respected specialists in democracy and religion. They address, challenge, and engage Abou El Fadl’s work. The contributors include John Esposito, Muhammad Fadel, Noah Feldman, Nader Hashemi, Bernard Haykel, Muqtedar Khan, Saba Mahmood, David Novak, William Quandt, Kevin Reinhart, and Jeremy Waldron.

Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism (Religion and Global Politics) By Azzam, S. Tamimi

Posted in Politics,Religious by bookspath on March 11, 2007

A Democrat within Islamism (Religion and Global Politics)Review
“The face of nonviolent Islamic democracy has long been associated with the writings of the Tunisian political philosopher and activist Rachid Ghannouchi. Yet, not until the work of Azzam Tamimi has the Western world been exposed to the complexity of Ghannouchis argumentsintertwined as they are with a subtle appreciation of democracys political imperative and Islams moral authority. Through a careful use of original and secondary sources, Tamimi has provided the most detailed and fair-minded analysis of one of the Muslim worlds most articulatealbeit controversialinterpreters of political Islam and its relationship to modern democracy.” –John Entelis, Professor of Political Science, Fordham University

“This book is a serious contribution to the literature on liberal (and illiberal) trends in contemporary political Islam, and will be a useful reference.” — Middle East Journal

“This brilliant intellectual biography of a very influential Islamist thinker of our times cannot be ignored by anyone interested in the vexed question of the relationship between Islam and democracy.”–The Muslim World Book Review

Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam By Talal Asad

Posted in Religious by bookspath on March 11, 2007

Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam“This eloquent, lucid, and complex work is the product of remarkable intelligence and erudition; it is a profound contribution to the understanding of the cultural hegemony of the West.”–Ralph M. Coury, Religious Studies Review.

“All articles are extremely well written, exhibit impressive scholarship, and are thoughtful and are thoughtful and stimulating. Asad’s criticisms are neither judgmental nor self-righteous but are generally driven by the will to understand.”–James R. Wood, Contemporary Sociology.

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