Islamic Exceptionalism

Islamic Exceptionalism

How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World

Book - 2016
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In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, "exceptional" in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren't just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state - and the vexing problem of religion's role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying - and alarmingly successful - example of ISIS. With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region's descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam's past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don't have to like it, but we have to understand it - because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
Publisher: New York :, St. Martin's Press,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250061010
Branch Call Number: 320.557 HAM
Characteristics: xiii, 306 pages ; 25 cm


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Apr 01, 2017

Very interesting survey of current Islamist groups: Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, ISIS. Author claims to be a liberal (presumably secular) but seems to be rather pro-Islamist. Near the end of the book he mentions Kissinger's World Order, which I have happened to read. In World Order Kissinger says that while others have accepted the Westphalian order Islam hasn't and instead believes that peace will come only when Islam conquers the World. Of course, this is clearly in the Quran as well and the Islamist movements including the Muslim Brotherhood still believe this. While he discusses Kissinger's World Order the author totally skips this central point.

The author promotes the idea that Brotherhood initiatives toward democracy are the path forward in the Middle East. This supremacist notion would seem to cause this path to only end in conflict. (If one were suspicious one might think that he is a secret Muslim Brotherhood operative embedded in the Brookings Institute promoting Islamist doctrine.)

Jul 27, 2016

There were things about the book I found very confusing. Hamid refers to the Muslim Brotherhood as “moderate” and amicable to democracy. Indeed, he calls this form of Islam the most modern religion. He acknowledges the foundations of Muslim Brotherhood properly as being Hassan al-Banna. This is also the intellectual foundation of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, ISIS and the other jihadist groups want to establish a caliphate based on Sharia law for the entire world. Hamid attempted to separate the groups and explain the different interpretations of Sharia law. His arguments were interesting and, for me, different, but I was not convinced.

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