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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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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.
Top customer reviews
Overall, the book deserves a read and makes plenty of valid points.
In the 8th through the 10th centuries, Islamic thought was a vital, vibrant part of the world intellectual history. Islamic writers, philosophers and historians not only preserved the writings of classic Greeks and acted as a transmission belt between East and West, they also produced a host of original works in everything from science, mathematics and philosophy to travelers' accounts of the world outside Islam. Islam in the golden age was tolerant and progressive (by the standards of the day, anyway
Then came the counter-reformation. The intellectual tradition was mostly the product of courtly and urban circles. There was a strong tide of narrow-minded, intolerant and ignorant popular religion that was set against this. Eventually the forces of ignorance and intolerance at first blunted and then destroyed the Islamic intellectual tradition. The final blow came in the 1260s when the Mongols sacked Baghdad and destroyed the intellectual and cultural center of Islam.
The lights didn't completely go out. Peoples like the Ottomans and Mughals kept some of the spirit alive, but progress on all fronts was greatly retarded.
One of the most ferocious ironies of modern Islam is that the most conservative forces in Islam hold up the golden age of the caliphate for admiration and example. Despite the fact that their intellectual ancestors were the ones who destroyed it.
This is a good general survey of the intellectual currents of the caliphate and how the darkness descended in Islam.
This book takes us back to the tenth century when the battle for rationality in Islam was fought - and lost. Islam, it shows us, would be ruled from that point forward largely by those who believe that you have to completely abandon rational, logical thought to be a devout Muslim. To the Ash'arite school of thinking, there was no logic in Allah - Allah was pure will, pure power, without logic or reason. Therefore, to attempt to understand Allah through reason or even to use reason in everyday life was un-Islamic. God's will was to be interpreted purely by imams - holy men - who would explain to you what was right or wrong in any circumstance. (Hence the TV call in shows, referenced on page 76.)
The author also shows the relationship between this "un-reasoning" of Islam and totalitarian governments, the lack of scientific accomplishment in the Muslim world since the tenth century, and many other modern dilemmas that face Islam and the West - together and separately.
Highly recommended for anyone who wishes to be educated on this subject.