Globalization, the war on terror, and Islamic fundamentalism—followed closely by a rise in Islamophobia—have escalated tensions between Western nations and the Muslim world. Yet internationally renowned Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed believes that through dialogue and understanding, these cultures can coexist peacefully and respectfully. That hope and belief result in an extraordinary journey. To learn what Muslims think and how they really view America, Ahmed traveled to the three major regions of the Muslim world the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization is the riveting story of his search for common ground. His absorbing narrative and personal photos bring the reader on a tour of Islam and its peoples. Ahmed sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of ordinary Muslims. Visiting mosques, madrassahs, and universities, he met with people ranging from Pakastan President Pervez Musharraf to prime ministers, princes, sheikhs, professors, and students. He observed, listened, and asked them questions. For example, who inspires them? What are they reading? How do the Internet and international media impact their lives? How do they view America, the West, and changes in society? Ahmed's anthropological expedition enjoyed extensive access to women and youths, revealing unique information on large yet often misunderstood populations. Lamentably, he found high levels of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and a widespread perception that Islam is under attack from the West. But he also brought back reason for hope. He returned from his groundbreaking travels both impressed with the concerned, kind nature of the individuals he encountered and invigorated with the vitality and passion they displayed. Journey into Islam makes a powerful plea for forming friendships across religion, race, and tradition to create lasting peace between Islam and the West.
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Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is former high commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, and he has taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities.From Publishers Weekly:
In response to the events of September 11, 2001, Ahmed, Islamic studies professor at American University in Washington, D.C., set out last year to visit Muslim nations in the Middle East, South Asia and Far East Asia. Accompanied the entire way by two non-Islamic American students and occasionally by others—including one American student who was Islamic—the Pakistani-born professor hoped to improve his understanding of the contemporary Muslim realm in all its diversity. Not so incidentally, Ahmed also wanted to shatter the stereotype of the U.S. as a warmongering, Islam-hating nation. The result is a fascinating account of how he and his students braved danger to build mutual understanding in Pakistan, India, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, Malaysia and Indonesia. As academics, they administered detailed questionnaires to Muslims in each nation, while as social creatures, they sat through seminars, luncheons, dinners and casual conversations looking for a candid exchange of ideas about religious, political and cultural differences. Occasionally Ahmed lapses into academese, loses his humility or generalizes beyond what the evidence seems to support. But mostly he comes across as an honorable man who believes that the future of the human race depends on international dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. (June)
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