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Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey Paperback – July 12, 1982

64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'The edgy exactitude of Naipaul's writing is both effortlessly classical and yet at the same time brilliantly contemporary, as sharp and lucid as a spear of glass... He is inimitable, truly great and truly deserving of the Nobel' Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at Oxford he began to write, and since then he has followed no other profession. He is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction and the recipient of numerous honors, including the Nobel Prize in 2001, the Booker Prize in 1971, and a knighthood for services to literature in 1990. He lives in Wiltshire, England.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (July 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394711955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394711959
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Mohit Dubey on January 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised with the sincerity and honesty with which Naipaul engages his subjects, especially towards the end of the book and his journey, when his conclusions have started to form and he is looking for reaffirmation of his earlier impressions. He knows that the pattern that is emerging is critical of the people he is talking to, yet he listens to each person earnestly, trying to understand how they see themselves and the world around them. Sometimes he is merely an interviewer, yet to the main characters through whom the story evolves, he is like a friend, telling them when he disagrees with them and making them think through their own feelings.
I do not see any hate or malice in this book, either towards 'the believers' or Islam. He is definitely sympathetic towards the believers he talks to, which should not and does not prevent him from criticizing their human frailties just as he celebrates their strengths. His critique of Islam too, follows from his analysis and should be refuted similarly. Coming back to read these reviews after reading the book, I find that some of the emotions expressed in the severest reviews fit the pattern described by the author. Ironic!
There is a natural flow in the narrative in moving from Iran through Pakistan and Malaysia to Indonesia. Was that a deliberate choice ?
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138 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on February 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 assault, America, egged on by its liberal intelligentsia, went through a typically oversensitive and
overgenerous phase of wondering what we had done to cause such hatred of us in the Middle East. However, the level of public anger that the
murders awoke greatly shortened this period of angst and left only a few inveterate self-haters asking these questions...Meanwhile, the rest of
America quickly moved on to the more accurate question of..."What Went Wrong?" with Islam to
reduce a once great religion to an ideology of little more than hatred of the West. Oddly enough, the search for answers to this question sent us
scurrying back twenty years, to a couple of books and essays by V. S. Naipaul that were roundly condemned at the time they were written,
particularly in the Muslim world, but which can now be recognized as brilliant and prophetic...
Among the Believers recounts the author's seven month sojourn across Muslim Asia, from Iran to Pakistan to Malaysia to Indonesia and back
again to Iran. It should be remembered that he traveled in the immediate wake of the Iranian fundamentalist revolution that had overthrown the
Shah, with at least implicit approval from Western intellectual elites, and ushered in a supposed new dawn of reform. But instead of finding
cause for hope in the post-Colonial muscle flexing of Islamic regimes, Mr. Naipaul warned instead that the Islamic world was unreconciled to
modernity and perhaps irreconcilable.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By wiseprof on December 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Naipaul's treatment of a what has now become a very contemporary issue is definitely commendable. He asks all the questions you'd like to ask and then some. While many have called this an opinionated piece of work, after reading the book I am truly surprised about such conclusions. Mr. Naipaul takes the reader on a journey through some of the bedrock Islamic societies to winnow fact from fiction and in doing so sets forth the state of affairs with remarkable practicality, bereft of either political correctness or feigned understanding of the tortuous evolution of religion and its convenient interpretation. What a refreshing change compared to the politically correct drivel we read everyday in the papers!!
The dialogs with everyday folk in Iran right after the revolution, the description of the abject conditions in Pakistan are indeed illuminating. The book has much to offer by way of insights especially into the Islamic way of life and origins of Islamic societies in Malaysia and Indonesia (e.g., the "statistical Muslim"). I only wish he had included the Middle Eastern countries in his book. It would have been quiet interesting to read what he has to say about the virulent strains of Islamic fundamentalism that has risen in those parts of the world.
In sum, the book is definitely a good read. I would ask the reader to set aside any prejudiced reviews before reading this book. For the most part Mr. Naipaul adopts a descriptive style of writing and lets the reader connect the dots and draw conclusions. Of course the book is peppered with the author's own interpretations but I did not find them overbearing in any way. It still comes across as a very balanced look at some parts of the Islamic world.
I would strongly recommend the reader to visit view/listen/read Sir Vidia's Nobel lecture. It offers interesting insights into the writer's journey.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Maayavan on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Among the believers" stands in same league with Naipaul's famed trilogy on India, replete with glimpses of history, critical perspectives and thought-stirring (unanswered) questions.
As Paul Theroux pointed once, Naipaul never uses any word without exercising forethought, and his usual diligence in presenting sensitive subjects without even trace amounts of exaggeration applies to this book too. It will be a travesty of truth if people liken his writings to anti-Islamic bigotry or stance. I think such allegations are nefarious and conspiratory to discredit the momentous work he has done. He has been equally critical/questioning of the (Hindu) civilizational millstones that beseige India.
If at all one could ascribe any pre-determined judgement that Naipaul makes in this book, it is his unequivocal committment to the superiority of (current) Western traditions like Democracy, Individualism, Freewill, Science, Market Economics etc. He does not exhibit any particular preference among the Eastern civilizations. His predeliction toward Hindu-Buddhist civilization, if at all, is due to the apparent space these cultures provide to accommodate western values and certainly not because Naipaul derives solace from the theism/morality of these religions.
In sum, "Among the believers" is as honest an inquiry into the predicaments of tumultuous Islamic revival as much as his other travelogues are about other geographies. A must read for all (Muslims and Non-Muslims) those who want to enter into a transparent and protracted dialogue to contain Muslim disgruntlement in different quarters.
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