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Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I do have to give the author a good amount of credibility for writing this book. There is a substantial amount of historic information and historic leaders mentioned throughout the... Read morePublished on February 2, 2009 by M. Afshar
Written as a response to 9/11 the author sets out to separate the disinformation from the actual conduct of Muslims in contemporary Central Asia. Read morePublished on January 28, 2009 by L. Curtis