Modernization, Democracy, and Islam

By Shireen T. Hunter; Huma Malik | Go to book overview

Foreword

Debate about Islam is not new in the West. But in the last few years, there has been a proliferation of writings on Islam. In particular, since September 11, 2001, much has been said and written on terrorism and its connection to Islam. Islam has become the subject of hundreds of books, articles, and conferences, thus providing opportunities for instant "specialists" to add their fresh "expertise" to the established knowledge of academics, travelers, and seasoned diplomats who have lived and worked with and among Muslims.

No doubt, some valuable work has been done on Islam, Islamic culture, and Islamic values. But a great many works are one-sided, inflammatory, and infused with emotions and ideological undertones. Indeed, at present impartiality seems a rare commodity when discussing Islam, and most discussions have become politicized and subjective. However, a fundamental question remains: namely, how to live with the more than 1.2 billion Muslims spread throughout the world.

Modernization, Democracy, and Islam is a remarkable contribution to the ongoing debate about Islam, Islamists, and Muslims. This wide-ranging book, incorporating politics, history, economics, and development issues, makes commendable efforts to explain intricate issues and their interconnections. It does so in a noncontroversial manner, educating readers and reminding them to put things into their multiple contexts. This approach, however, does not excuse or defend governments in the Muslim world. On the contrary, Muslim leaders are invited to note that "after more than five decades of efforts at modernization, the Muslim world still lags behind not only the advanced Western countries but also a number of East Asian states." The book goes further with an analysis of the "Muslim world's modernization and democracy gap." The consequences of this deficit, including its security implications, have become a preoccupation for policy makers, especially

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