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The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times Hardcover – April 4, 2017

4.3 out of 5 stars 122 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"Elegantly written…’The Islamic Enlightenment’ introduces us to a fascinating gallery of individuals who would grapple with reform and modernization in theory and practice…In tracking the sinews of enlightenment through the last two centuries of Islamic thinking, this brilliant and lively history deserves nothing but praise."
New York Times Book Review

"Excellent…Mr. de Bellaigue, the finest Orientalist of his generation, does the world a great service by charting the attainments of the region’s long 19th century….Focusing on Iran, Turkey and Egypt, ‘the three intellectual and political centres of the Middle East,’ Mr. de Bellaigue tells a story that is at once new, fascinating and extraordinarily important."
Bartle Bull, Wall Street Journal

"A stylishly written, surprisingly moving chronicle of intellectual and political flourishing in Egypt, Turkey, and Iran ― ‘the brain of Islam’ ― in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."

"Deeply researched . . . . Beginning with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and ending with the late 20th century, De Bellaigue shows how the cultural struggles between modernity and tradition unfolded in Istanbul, Cairo, and Tehran. . . .De Bellaigue is a knowledgeable guide through huge sweeps of cultural history"
Nick Romeo, Christian Science Monitor

"The book reads at times like a thriller―it is a tale of reform and reaction, innovation and betrayal, a struggle, as the author would put it, between faith and reason. . . . With such divisive views elevated to state policy, a book that examines the Islamic world’s liberalization process―at least until the French and the English carved up the Middle East after 1918―is welcome."
Francis Ghiles, Arab Weekly

"A highly original and informative survey of the clashes between Islam and modernity in Istanbul, Cairo, and Tehran in the last two hundred years. Brilliant!"
Orhan Pamuk, author of My Name Is Red

"An eye-opening, well-written and very timely book, which can help us understand better the complex relationship between the Muslim world and modernity. While both Islamic extremists and Western bigots find it convenient to stress the incompatibility of Islam and modernity, Christopher de Bellaigue shows that Islam is whatever Muslims make of it, and that at least some Muslims have made of it something very modern."
Yuval Harari, author of Homo Deus

"That there has been an Islamic Enlightenment at all will come as news to many. De Bellaigue’s account of the ‘very broad church’ of Islam in the modern world is splendid and timely."
Anthony Gottlieb, author of The Dream of Enlightenment

"Christopher de Bellaigue has long been one of our most resourceful and stimulating interpreters of realities veiled by fear and prejudice. In The Islamic Enlightenment, he cuts through the complacent opposition of Islam-versus-modernity to reveal a fascinating world: one in which complex human beings constantly change, improvise, and adjust under the pressures of history. It is the best sort of book for our disordered days: timely, urgent, and illuminating."
Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire

"A brilliantly learned and entertaining study of a topic that is of far more than merely antiquarian interest: the encounter between the Islamic world and the post-Enlightenment West."
Tom Holland, author of In the Shadow of the Sword

"In this expansive historical account and commentary, de Bellaigue recounts Islam's ''painful encounter with modernity'' through the history of Turkey, Egypt, and Iran. . . . This is a text that demands attention for its splendid prose, command of an entire treasury of history, and ability to undermine the misplaced patronization of Middle Eastern Muslim nations over the last 300 years."
Publisher's Weekly

"Timely, thoughtful, and provocative."
Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

About the Author

Christopher de Bellaigue has worked as a journalist in south Asia and the Middle East, writing for the Economist, the Guardian, and the New York Review of Books. He is the award-winning author of four books, has made several BBC television and radio documentaries, and has been a visiting fellow at the universities of Harvard and Oxford. He lives in London.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Liveright; 1st Edition (April 4, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 432 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0871403730
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0871403735
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.7 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 122 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
122 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on July 29, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, very factual, doesnt dissect faith vs reason in context of Islamic empires failings
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 23, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterclass on the Middle East
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 12, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good book on a subjcect that is not highly popular at this time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 24, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightened view
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entender el islam de hoy
Reviewed in Spain on July 5, 2019
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