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Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey Paperback – July 12, 1982
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ?
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.Read more ›
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.
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 ...to view/listen/read Sir Vidia's Nobel lecture. It offers interesting insights into the writer's journey.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book provides an objective look at the regular people living in some of the Islamic cultures that are very mysterious to many Westerners. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Art Vanderleigh
A must read for anyone willing to understand a society governed espiritually, socially and politically by IslamPublished 20 months ago by Newton de Souza
The beauty of this book is that you can substitute "Islam" for any religion and its fundamentalist offshoots. Southern Baptist fundamentalists, Hasidim … fill in the blank. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Seth Davidson
Very insightful travelogue from Iran to Indonesia. Naipaul offers a unique voice, as Hindu born agonistic from the West Indies who balances a sympathetic yet critical perspective... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Gabriel Fuqua
"Among the Believers" recounts Naipaul's impressions as he travels through four Islamic countries -- Iran, Pakistan, Mayasia, and Indonesia. Read morePublished 22 months ago by %%%%
If you stick with this book you will get an invaluable insight into the islamic drive and fundamentalism in places like Iran and Pakistan (Malaysia
and Indonesia). Read more
V. S. Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. He is a British national, and resident of Britain, of Indian extraction, growing up as a third generation resident... Read morePublished on June 28, 2013 by John P. Jones III
I read this book in one sitting. A revealing thriller where you gain knowledge about these unknown countries.The prose is elegant and well written. Read morePublished on June 5, 2012 by Shailesh
Writers share their experiences and observations of cultures, religions or civilizations in an unbiased manner, so that the readers can form their own opinions. Read morePublished on January 8, 2012 by ZH0606