Islam Through Western Eyes
Columbia University Press
Publication date: February 2012
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
You save: $3.00 (12%)
Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens to curb any prospect of East-West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in a dangerous, dead-end politics that it cannot afford in a rapidly globalizing world.A critically acclaimed author on the Middle East and its relationship with the West, Jonathan Lyons unpacks Western habits of thinking and writing about Islam, conducting a careful analysis of the West's grand totalizing narrative of Islam across one thousand years of history. He observes the discourse's corrosive effects on the social sciences, including sociology, politics, philosophy, theology, international relations, security studies, and even human rights scholarship. He follows its influence on research, speeches, political strategy, and government policy, preventing the West from responding effectively to its most significant twenty-first-century challenges—the rise of Islamic power, the emergence of religious violence, and the growing tension between established social values and multicultural rights among Muslim immigrant populations. Lyons applies the intellectual "archaeology" of Michel Foucault to reveal the workings of the discourse and its underlying impact on our social, intellectual, and political life. He then addresses issues of deep concern to Western readers—Islam and modernity, Islam and violence, and Islam and women—and proposes new ways of thinking about the Western relationship to the Islamic world.