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Product Details

  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815701314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815701316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Akbar Ahmed's voice needs to be heard, and his courage strengthened." —Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate



"In Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization [Ahmed] invites us to listen to the many voices of Muslims today as they face a confusing and often threatening world. It is essential reading, wise, literate, insightful, optimistic, honest and humane, the work of one of the great religious sages of our time." —Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth



"A fascinating personal account of his travels last year into the heart of Islam, spanning the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. Through in-depth discussions with high-level officials and religious figures as well as ordinary people, Ahmed offers a nuanced picture of a complex world that alternatively fears and misunderstands America." —Juliana Geran Pilon, World Politics Review, 5/31/2007



"Akbar Ahmed's Journey into Islam is, no doubt, a labour of love. Akbar has made a sterling contribution to the inescapable need for a rational, cool and un-phlegmatic dialogue between the denizens of the Islamic world and their western detractors. His is a voice of reason and rationality." —Karamatullah K. Ghori, DAWN Books & Authors, 5/13/2007



"A deeply moral work, informed by profound commitment to universal values of knowledge, justice, and compassion, all of which work to confirm Ahmed's position as preeminent Muslim public intellectual. Ultimately, a generous and empowering work which allows the kind of understanding that is transformative, Journey into Islam is as an extraordinary venture for its readers as it was for the students involved in its making." —Tamara Sonn, College of William & Mary, Emel Magazine



" Journey into Islam is not only a treasure chest of information for the specialist and non-specialist alike: it is also a how-to manual on fostering peace and mutual respect...a penetrating analysis of relations between America and the Islamic world." —Omar Sacirbey, Religion News Service, 6/19/2007



"A deep and penetrating look at the Islamic world through the prism of history, both current and remote." —S. Amjad Hussain, Toledo Blade, 7/8/2007



" Journey into Islam is not only a treasure chest of information for the specialist and non-specialist alike: it is also a how-to manual on fostering peace and mutual respect. The book stands in a category by itself. It is refreshingly devoid of specialist terminology, eloquently written, and should be essential reading for anyone interested in making the world a better place." —Khaleel Mohammed, The Star, 6/30/2007



"An insightful book." —Ziauddin Sardar, The Independent, 6/1/2007



"Washington policy-makers and journalists should read this book." —Tony Blankley, Washington Times, 6/20/2007



"Professor Akbar Ahmed has written a book of extraordinary insight. There are few people in the world with such an intimate understanding of America, Europe and Islam. Equally there are few who have the experience and knowledge to interpret the one to the other. This is a book which exposes the full seriousness of current tensions but one which is full of hope because it not only deepens understanding but charts a better way. I am delighted that he will be in the United Kingdom sharing his wisdom. Politicians, Faith, and Community Leaders will benefit greatly from his perceptive analysis and his constructive proposals." — Lord Bishop James Jones, 5/1/2007



"I started reading Dr. Akbar Ahmed's new book Journey into Islam yesterday and have not been able to put it down! The book is so eloquently written and beautifully explained...it brought tears to my eyes." —Blair Mersinger, Pakistan Link, 6/5/2007



" Journey into Islam is an incredible book with an incredible experiment that you under[took] with a group of students you [took] around the world." —Leon Harris, Capital Sunday, 6/1/2007



"Pull[s] together history, politics, religious scholarship and personal narrative into a coherent framework which can counter the force of inevitability with the power of possibility." —Eboo Patel, On Faith, blog from Washington Post & Newsweek, 6/4/2007



"Akbar Ahmed takes us on a passionate and ambitious journey towards understanding the contemporary Muslim world." —Tasleem Shakur, Times Higher Education Supplement, 9/21/2007



"This book is a break-through in our understanding of the complex relationship between globalization and Islam... an essential resource for anyone interested in some of the key questions of our time, concerning not just the role of Islam in world society, but differing concepts of religiosity." —Lord Anthony Giddens, House of Lords and former director, London School of Economics



"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." — Publishers Weekly, 2/12/2007



"the most important book published this year on the topic of avoiding a clash of civilizations....This is an important book about the possibility of building bridges and the hope that change is possible with dialogue and mutual understanding....This book should be in the library of every mosque in the U.S. and a dialogue topic in every interfaith dialogue group. It should also be read and carefully and acted upon by politicians and diplomats." —Sheila Musaji, The American Muslim, 6/28/2007



"When I finished Akbar Ahmed's Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, I wanted to shout from the San Juan mountaintops that everyone has to read this book. I can't remember when I learned so much about a topic that I thought, mistakenly, I already knew about." —Barbara Meade, 8/10/2007



"This book is an indispensable source for those who want to learn about new trends impacting the Muslim world." — The Financial Express, 10/28/2007



"Imbued with extraordinary wisdom and compassion." — Biblio: A Review of Books (India), 9/1/2007



" Journey into Islam offers a role each one of us can personally play to catalyze peace, understanding and hope in the world. Listen to his voice today. Read this book!" — OurVoicesTogether.com, 4/26/2007



" Journey into Islam is an informative primer on Islamic history, an astute diplomatic analysis of US-Islamic relations over the last century and a deeply personal journal." — Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions



"Ahmed's latest work takes a deep and penetrating look at the Islamic world through the prism of history, both current and remote." — Decan Herald, 11/18/2007



"A marvellous, moving, sobering, troubling, and compelling insight into a religion which is scarcely out of the media limelight." —Alan Race, Pakistan Link, 11/9/2007



"Intellectually engaging and passionately written... Journey into Islam is an informative primer on Islamic history, an astute analysis of U.S. relations with the Islamic world over the last century and the deeply personal journal of the man the BBC calls 'the world's best-known scholar on contemporary Islam'." — The Christian Century



"A profoundly personal and moving analysis of the anguish and ideological deformations through which the Islamic world is currently passing. Journey into Islam is a spiritual Odyssey reaching far back into Professor Ahmed's own past while detailing his dreams for the Muslim world of today and tomorrow." — Middle East Policy



"Should be a must read for any person wishing to get a deep understanding of the current confrontation between the Islamic and Western worlds.... Ahmed's book is not just a treasure chest of information; it is also a how-to manual of fostering peace and mutual respect. Would that Journey into Islam were essential reading for every government official, every university researcher, and every person interested in learning about Islam and finding a recipe for peaceful coexistence." —Khaleel Mohammed, Islamic Studies



"In this day and age, with alliances between countries constantly being built only to be broken, with the waging of wars in dozens of nations, and most importantly with the spread of globalization, there has arisen a dire need for understanding and resolution across the globe and Akbar Ahmed provides just such a solution for the tensions between the United States and the Middle East in his book Journey into Islam.... [It] is informative and thought provoking no matter what one's race, religion, nationality, or political views." — Reason & Respect: A Journal of Civil Discourse



"[An] excellent book. Highly recommended." —Elizabeth Agnvall, Star-Telegram



"Those seeking an illustrative examination of the relationship between Islam and globalization in an international milieu often beset by misunderstandings will find this book a useful tool in examining important questions as well as answers about Islam today." — Round Table



"A fascinating personal account of his travels last year into the heart of Islam, spanning the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. Through in-depth discussions with high-level officials and religious figures as well as ordinary people, Ahmed offers a nuanced picture of a complex world that alternately fears and misunderstands America, yet seems eager to engage with us if give a chance." — World Politics Review



"Grounded in history, inclusive in its understanding of volatile interfaith religious issues, Journey into Islam is a cornerstone book, a reflective, economically written work for those who would engage in the interfaith journey." —Frederick Quinn, Anglican Theological Review


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I read this book in just two sittings.
Cedric Smith
This book describes his extending that mission from the lofty halls of diplomacy to places where ordinary people live.
Brian Forst
The book highlights the changes that could be adopted by the US government to ease tension with the middle-east.
VJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Brian Forst on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Akbar Ahmed is a welcome departure from the roar of Muslim rage. Journey into Islam, his latest book, is an anthropological account of his 2006 travel with a team of research assistants to the three major regions of the Muslim world: the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. It tells of mutual suspicions between the West and Islam, fed by stereotypes of the other, and how those perceptions can be reversed through direct personal exchange, how conversations even with extremists can change minds. It offers Ahmed's wise observations and reflections, documented in prose and photographs, and it has powerful implications for all of us.

I must put my cards on the table: Akbar is my friend and colleague. I was a skeptic when I first heard him in 2001, but I found the potency, eloquence and courage of his message irresistible, a vital counterpoint to the drumbeat of clash and turmoil. His central point is that civil dialogue, aimed at listening and learning -- without stifling one's own perspectives and concerns -- allows each side to understand the other, discover a common humanity, and sometimes even to develop friendships.

For Journey into Islam, Ahmed and his research team interviewed some 120 people in each of nine countries at universities, hotels and cafes, madrassahs and mosques. Ahmed had access to people that most non-Muslims would not have, including prime ministers and presidents, princes and sheikhs, but mostly ordinary Muslims. The team asked what they read, what changes they had witnessed in their communities and societies, the nature and extent of their access to technology and the news, people they regarded as role models, both contemporary and historical, and how they viewed America.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Cedric Smith on June 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in just two sittings. I did not want it to end. The author covers so much and weaves an incredible and hopeful story throughout the deep analysis of contemporary Muslim culture and world politics. Ahmed introduces us a a real "extremist" or "jihadist" in the first pages and we see his remarkable transformation throughout the book. He is not the caricature that we see on the news or in Hollywood. Journey into Islam gives us a nuanced look into the mind of Muslims around the world ranging from fundamentalists like the one described above to modernists like President Musharraf and others to Sufi mystics. Combining history, personal narrative and jaw-dropping access to every sector of Muslim society, this book, for the first time, gives the reader an understanding of what is happening in the world today and why. I have read a lot of books on the subject but I can honestly say that I was clueless before I read this one. Extraordinary.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Curious Senior on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent, thoughtful study of the Islamic world and the impact globalization and our "war on terror" is having on these societies, by a professor of anthropology who has devoted his career to helping the west understand Islam. I strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to get behind the rhetoric which we are getting from the media and our government these days.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B.R.B on December 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
In his book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization Akbar Ahmed attempts to serve as the Muslim World's ambassador to the Western mind and discern their common grounds of justice, compassion and knowledge (47). Despite his intentions, Ahmed's final product insults the party he tries to appeal to and does a disservice to the Muslim people he tries to represent.

Ahmed's most immediate problem is his vague and biased terminology. As previously noted, he appeals to "compassion" and "justice," but never defines these terms. More unnerving however, is that he seems to frame them in such a way that always portrays the West as a bully and reduces the Islamic world to a quivering, passive victim. For example, America's retaliatory strike against Afghanistan and Iraq is seen as an act of vengeful rage (11) while the Danish cartoon riot is explained away as a demonstration of the Muslims' love of their Prophet (217). He never allows for the possibility that the wars following 9/11 were a demonstration of love for American victims rather than a hatred of Muslims.

Despite the fact that the Muslim world threw the first punch in the War on Terror, it is America whom Ahmed blames for "driving the world...toward an apocalypse" with its reactions (129). Additionally, the greatest evils to come out of the Muslim world are downplayed, as demonstrated by Ahmed's assessment of Saddam Hussein as a man who was "allegedly" guilty of barbarism and a victim of "cruel taunting" (166). Conversely, he characterizes President Bush as a raging madman seeking to destroy the feeble states of Afghanistan and Iraq who are portrayed as peace-seeking victims (259).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fabrizio C. Celentano on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was much needed. Unfortunately it is only a book, a drop of water in the desert, although we should never forget that single drops added up to dig the desert canyons. Much more must be done, and this requires confronting a problem not addressed by the Author.
Why are we, people of the western countries, making such a confusion between politics and religion and why, anyhow, religion appears to be the key to peace within the people referring to the three Abrahamic religions?
As modern people, living in a western democracy, we should be bound to separate Church and State. Which is not exactly achieved in too many of the western countries, USA included, and surely, despite the presence of Ahmed's Aligarh model, is not the case in the Islamic countries. Thus it appears that using a language to be appreciated by our Islamic travel mates means speaking a language that is not properly our own, although it is becoming increasingly popular in some countries having a Christian tradition.
There is a contradiction that needs been solved. I hope that our Author and other serious scholars show us how.
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