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Islam and the Challenge of Civilization


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Table of Contents

Prologue 1. Religion and Violence 2. The Koran as Myth 3. The Clash of Interpretations 4. On the Arab Decline 5. Civilization or Extinction 6. Enlightenment Between High and Low Voltage 7. The Physics and Metaphysics of Nature Epilogue 8. Religion and Cosmopolitics Appendixes A. The Veil Unveiled: Dialogue with Christian Jambet B. Obama in Cairo

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Meddeb wages a war of interpretations in this book demonstrating that Muslims cannot join the concert of nations unless they set aside outmoded notions such as jihad, and realize that the feuding among monotheisms must give way to the more important issue of what it means to be a citizen in today's post-religious global setting.

About the Author

Abdelwahab Meddeb (1946-2014) was novelist and poet who taught comparative literature at the Universite Paris X (Nanterre). Meddeb published more than twenty books in French. His La maladie de l'islam, winner of the Prix Francois Mauriac, has been translated into English as The Malady of Islam.


"It is more urgent than ever to allow a voice such as Meddeb's to be heard, the voice of an Arab intellectual familiar with both Muslim civilization and Western culture. In this-and thanks to his immense knowledge and open-indedness-he is a precious translator capable of seeing both sides at the same time." -- -Marcel Henaff University of California, San Diego "The philosophy of the future will draw upon all of humanity's collective accomplishments. In Islam and the Challenge of Civilization, Abdelwahab Meddeb proposes a scriptural hermeneutics that combines Spinoza and Ibn 'Arabi, an architectural style that blends Brunilleschi and Sinan, an ethos of competition expressed by the Qur'an and Claude Levi-Strauss, and many other hybrids. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to glimpse the cosmopolitan civilization on the horizon." -- -Nicholas Tampio Fordham University "... an important contribution to knowledge because it gives eloquent voice to a modern Muslim thinker who rejects the narrow legalism of the Wahhabi tradition of Saudi Arabia or the Puritanism of the Egyptian Muslim Brethren." -- -Patrick J. Ryan S.J. Fordham University "This is the perfect handbook for deepening our understanding of both the incredible richness through time and the paradoxical present obtuseness of Islamic culture. Meddeb achieves this feat-how clear knowledge can disarm belligerent interpretations of a paradoxical faith-through his elegant and polyphonic use of Qu'ranic exegesis, advanced literary poetics, and a strong sense of democratic citizen politics, all of which are informed by a profound cosmopolitanism able to simultaneously draw on Ibn Arabi's eclectic Sufism and Voltaire's secular intellect, among many other sources. A necessary exploration,a must-read." -- -Pierre Joris author of The University of California Book of North African Literature "Bold and fresh... Those well-versed in Islamic Studies will enjoy the erudite read, masterfully rendered into English by Kuntz." -Publishers Weekly "Abdelwahab Meddeb's Islam and the Challenge of Civilization offers new perspectives on and fresh associations among historical events in a way that draws the curtain and adjusts the view among Muslim public intellectuals. Situated within the broad scholarship of Islamic thought, it engages critically and creatively with various doctrinal issues that are being manipulated by some Muslim opinion leaders to support their own bellicose positions." -American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

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