Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East by Sami Zubaida

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By Sami Zubaida

During this magisterial paintings, Sami Zubaida attracts on a distinctive career’s worthy of experience trying to appreciate the area to handle the elemental query in heart East experiences: what's the heart East? He argues, controversially, that to work out it during the prism of Islam, because it is conventionally seen, is to fully misunderstand it. a lot of what we predict of because the "Islamic" features of the area are items of tradition and society, no longer faith. to consider Islam itself as a necessary, anti-modern strength within the quarter instead of whatever formed by way of particular historical-economic strategies is, Zubaida argues, a mistake. as an alternative, he deals us an alternate view of the area, its historical cosmopolitanism, its spiritual and cultural variety, its quick adoption of recent media cultures,  which finds a multi-faceted and complicated quarter teeming with a number of identities. Wide-ranging, erudite, and powerfully argued, Zubaida’s paintings may be crucial analyzing for destiny generations of scholars of this attention-grabbing area.

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Extra info for Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East (Library of Modern Middle East Studies)

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They are subordinate to the power of the ruling dynasty only insofar as the latter is sufficiently powerful to subdue the tribes, or sufficiently wealthy to buy them off. For much of the time, the power of the ruler over the tribes is nominal; they enjoy virtual autonomy and pose a potential threat. This threat becomes operative if and when the rulers are weakened and their forces in decline and decadence. Decadence of power is a necessary phase in the cycle supposed in this model. Dynasties that have conquered the city and its wealth do so with the militant vigour of their nomadic stock, and the solidarity (asabiyya) of their kinship bonds.

Science, or more correctly proto-science, was part of philosophy. It was carried out by individuals who may have been part of religious institutions (teachers in madrasas) – given the close affinity between mosques and literacy – but their philosophical, scientific and medical pursuits were separate from any religious functions they may have had. As I have said, the madrasas were primarily seminaries of religious learning, to which their curricula were devoted; any philosophical or mathematical subjects were at best marginal.

Indd 28 26/11/10 5:06 PM INTRODUCTION 29 This introductory chapter has advanced a number of themes and debates on the history, culture and society of the ‘Muslim world’ – more specifically its Middle East region. It has tried to demonstrate, in these various contexts, that religion is only an effective factor in those histories as part of configurations of social relations and ideologies – of economy, power and institutions. Modernity in these societies cannot be explained as a writing-out of some historical or cultural essence of Islam as religion or ‘civilization’.

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