Although a considerable literature exists on the Middle East and it has occupied center stage in world politics for the past two centuries, the Middle East has remained an enigma for those who study and formulate policies regarding the region. The ruling circles and the mass of the populations within these Muslim countries are themselves not fully aware of what is happening in their societies or why certain things are happening or not happening. Therefore, the functioning and state of the societies remain largely misunderstood by the societies themselves. The scores of books and articles written on the Middle East, though useful in some ways, generally lack explanatory value. Most works describe how things are, or have been, in the Middle East; they do not explain, in a real sense, the "why." It is for this reason that the enigma of the Middle East persists, both for the societies of the region and for analysts at large. In this book, by examining the role of Islam in the modernization efforts of Pakistan, Egypt, and Turkey, we analyze issues that have hitherto not been fully studied, nor are their implications generally understood.
The argument presented in this book is that the issue of development or modernization of Islamic countries cannot be analyzed, explained and addressed in terms of the existing paradigms in the discipline formulated to analyze and explain the issues involved in the development and modernization processes of developing countries as a whole. My argument is that a fundamental issue in Muslim countries--that of the prevalent ideas about Islam, and the so-called Islamic traditions which affect every aspect of life in a Muslim society--has been largely left out of the study. This is understandable for two reasons. First, the study of developing countries has been undertaken mainly by Western scholars, who approached the issue of development and modernization through their understanding of the structures and processes in the Western experience, and their emphasis tended to be on the more recent experience of the West. Of course, they have known that the Western process of modernization originated