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The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Hardcover – May 17, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 1st Edition edition (May 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859910
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert R. Reilly is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, and National Review, among many other publications. A former director of the Voice of America, he has taught at the National Defense University and served in the White House and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Reilly is a member of the board of the Middle East Media Research Institute and lives near Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

Very interesting book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more that what happened in the Muslim world.
It was reason versus power exercised by pure will.
Edmund Jimenez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 159 people found the following review helpful By Henry Kadoch on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In tracing the historical evolution of Islam into the backward and calcified state it now finds itself in, Reilly has done us great service.

The most important point, implicit in this work for those willing to self-examine, is that most of us in the West stubbornly continue to try to understand and explain the Muslim world through the eyes of our own experience and evolution, refusing to see that it cannot be explained by our logic and reason, that it can only be explained by theirs. And theirs is an entirely different worldview, arising from an entirely different history in both thought and in action.

Being originally from a Latin American country, I have always found that most Americans cannot fathom some of what goes on in other countries, and cannot conceive of other peoples' having different values and worldviews upon which they base their actions and thought, and which necessarily do not fit into the rational mold of Westerners and Americans.

This is why we continue to ignore their own words and deeds as they relate to their seemingly irrational and destructive actions, and why we continually try to find "excuses" for them; we just cannot imagine people thinking differently from ourselves and having motivations which seem self-destructive to us. This is best expressed by Hussein Massawi, a Hezbollah leader: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." And yet we persist in trying to find something to "offer", believing that we have something to offer that they want and will stop them. We don't. And not everyone wants freedom and democracy.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Steve Summers VINE VOICE on July 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bookstores are lately full of obituaries for Muslim civilization describing its decline. (We have a surviving Muslim culture, but the civilization is a faded memory.) Most analyses (like Bernard Lewis's "What Went Wrong") are quite good, but Robert Reilly's highly readable "The Closing of the Muslim Mind" is the best of a good lot. It takes you further, describing the original ideas that inspired Islam's self-inflicted intellectual decapitation--not simply tracing the social the social eruptions which followed.

You might well expect that a book focusing on the intricacies of arguments between Medieval Quranic scholars would be a suffocatingly tedious read, but it's not. The theological hairs these gentlemen sought to split were large and had far larger consequences. The modern Islamic world (make that the anti-modern Islamic world) is largely the product of a thousand years of bad ideas--mixed with oil. (Quick note: this book is about Sunni Islam. Shi'a Islam explicitly excluded.)

It's hard to recall that Islamic civ was once far ahead of Western civ. Early in Islamic history Arab conquests took them into captured libraries full of Greek philosophy, science, mathematics and culture and Islamic intellectual life expanded suddenly and exponentially. Many seminal works the West claims today as its own originally arrived as translations from Arabic. The numbers we use today, "Arabic" (actually Indian) numerals came in on a tide of Arabic words like algebra and algorithm. Arab civilization in the 10th seemed to have a bright future. Then, in the 11th century Islam reversed course. The pendulum swung so far away from the rationalism of Greek philosophy it never came back.

The linchpin of this change was over the alleged power of Allah.
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101 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Edmund Jimenez on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A few years ago Bernard Lewis wrote a short book titled "What Went Wrong"--with Islamic countries, that is. As expected of Dr. Lewis' work, it was excellent, but the book never answered the question posed in its title. Amazingly, and beautifully, Mr. Reilly's book does explain what went wrong with Sunni (and to some extent Shia) Islam.

In about a two-hundred-year period (9th through the 11th centuries, A.D./C.E.), the intellectual ferment having to do with Islamic theological issues, and how to examine those issues, ripped through the Islamic world. On one side were those Islamic thinkers whose logical tools derived from Greek philosophy; The other side was made up of those who insisted that the Koran was eternal, and must be simply accepted without question. In fact, for this latter group, the very act of questioning was blasphemous--a capital crime.

Despite the Hellenistic intellectual outlook actually being supported and adopted by three Caliphs, the argument was eventually won by the literalists. It was reason versus power exercised by pure will. Reason lost, and the results are painfully still evident.

Mr. Reilly carries us along from the 9th century up to the present, and his writing is elegantly precise. His book is very clear about the dangers Islam poses to the West and to Islam itself. Despite the war in which we are engaged, in the best sense of the Western Tradition, Mr. Reilly's words will give the reader an appreciation and respect for those ancient (and modern) men of Islam who chose humanity over tyranny. Sadly, of course, they lost.
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