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Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia 1st Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520249271
ISBN-10: 0520249275
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Khalid’s work is an important contribution to an understanding of the increasingly plural character of Islamic societies and how political Islam should be understood in particular regional and societal contexts.”
(Johan Saravanamuttu Journal Of Contemporary Asia 2009-01-12)

“Clear and well-researched. . . . Khalid’s book is a very helpful aid in understanding the complexities of today’s Central Asia.”
(Intl Journal Of Middle East Stds (Ijmes) 2010-07-15)

From the Inside Flap

"I know of no competing work that comes close to covering this material. Khalid's nuanced and sophisticated analysis offers superior treatment of the diversity of Muslim societies and the history of Islamic thought in Central Asia. America is heavily involved in this region, and this book is a powerful reminder of the possible costs of unthinking U.S. support of current regimes—it should be required reading for American politicians and concerned citizens."—Carl Ernst, author of Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (January 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520249275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520249271
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
[*Note: The following review is of select portions of the book, Islam after Communism, by Adeeb Khalid. It takes into account the Introduction, Chapters 1-3 and 5, and the Conclusion]

Islam after Communism is an attempt to convince the reader that the notion of "Islam" as a fixed set of (1) rules, (2) practices, (3) ideas--indeed, a fixed anything--that exists independent of political, economical, and other historical changes, is a fallacious assumption. The author, Adeeb Khalid, attempts to accomplish this feat primarily through the examples of the profound transformations the seventy-three-year period (1918-1991) of Soviet authority rendered in the religious, political, educational, and cultural understandings of Islam by the Muslim populations of Central Asia. His basic concern seems to be the deconstruction of the "Western essentialist" view of Islam: That it is (1) political by nature, (2) intolerant of other ideologies (religious, economic, and political), (3) oppressive to women, (4) militant in achieving its aims, and (5) that the most important thing to EVERY Muslim is that the tenets of Islam be upheld at ALL costs.

Although the author is rather opinionated (and repetitive), he is a good story teller. The book is an interesting, smooth read. I recommend it for anybody interested in the history of the Soviet Union, the Communist influence in Central Asia and on Central Asian Muslims, and/or the history of the Muslim peoples. This is a history book, not a book about Islamic religion per se.
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Format: Paperback
Being a grandson for a man who suffered from the Bolshevik revolution and a man who left his country for the sake of his faith, I consider myself as a part of this book.

I have not finished the book yet, but until now what I have gained from this book are three things:
1- New information about the hidden history of central Asia at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. And the role of the Muslim scholars "the Ulama" at that time.
2- A refreshment of what I have been told by grandparents about the soviet assault on Islam and the way they fought to keep it.
3- A new and clear picture of Islam and its meaning in central Asia nowadays.

If you want to know what Islam is to Central Asians I recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
This short book is a brief history of Islam in Central Asia, and a longer argument about the nature of Islam in Central Asia (by which he primarily means Uzbekistan). Specifically, Prof. Khalid argues that Uzbek Islam is different from Islam in other regions (such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia) because of its very different history. Decades of Soviet control, he argues, has had a profound effect on the way Uzbeks view their religion. The writing is sometimes choppy, and the historical sections assume a certain amount of background knowledge. I recommend this book to specialists or to college students with at least a minimal knowledge of Central Asian history and geography. It is too dense and obscure for more casual readers.

In the rest of this review, I address some more specific points.

1. Prof. Khalid does not shy away from attacking other authors. Salman Rushdie's views are "particularly pompous" (p. 208, n. 14). Ahmed Rashid mixes "arrogance and ignorance in equal measure" in describing Central Asia (p. 3). See also p. 209, n.20; p. 210, n. 4. Even where I agree with Prof. Khalid's conclusions, his arrogant tone does not help him persuade.

2. Specifically, Prof. Khalid spends a great deal of time attacking "essentialism" and its proponents, like Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis. "Essentialism" is the view, in this context, that a "pure" or "true" Islam exists, and that to the extent that cultures or sects deviate from the pure form, they are not really Muslim. Essentialism, in Prof. Khalid's view, is historically baseless, and also irresponsible because it creates and "us versus them" attitude that, in turn, leads to conflict. "Islam, for Lewis, is immutable and impervious to change brought about by history or society. ...
Read more ›
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This is a thorough book. The content is processed and presented in a scholarly way, accessible also for non-scholars. The emphasis is on historical, political and social aspects of Islam in the area. I would have wished more on individual spirituality and belief system.
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Format: Paperback
Adeeb Khalid provides an overview of the role of Islam in Central Asian, attempts to dispel misconceptions propagated by western scholars, and highlights the impact of communism on Islamic traditions and society. While "Islam after Communism" offers outstanding arguments and analysis, its impact is diminished because of the author's lack of objectivity and his inability to more clearly organize the material. I would recommend this book only for students of Islam or the history of Central Asia who are specifically interested in how Communism has affected the region or religion. However, I would advise readers of this book to be wary of Khalid's arguments because, in my opinion, he is (whether justified or not) extremely bitter and resentful of the way Western writers have portrayed Islam. This resentment simmers just below the surface of many of his arguments and seeps through in different parts of the book. That being said, if you can differentiate between his emotionally driven opinions and his historically accurate insights, Adeeb Khalid offers a sophisticated analysis of the Communist influence on Islam in Central Asia.
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