Understanding Arabs: A Guide for Westerners (The Interact Series)

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By Margaret K. Nydell
Publisher: Intercultural Press
Number Of Pages: 174
Publication Date: 1996-08
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 1877864463

Description: This guide is designed for Westerners planning to visit, live or work in the Maghreb and the Middle East. The author has great experience of Arab culture and describes the patterns of change that have influenced the Arab world in recent times. She also analyzes basic Arab values religious beliefs and self-perceptions.

The opening chapters of the book examine the Arab personality in a cultural context that is comprehensible to non-Arabs, yet not stereotypical. The author examines friendship patterns, attitudes towards strangers, hospitality, differences in ways of thinking, the value placed upon the expression of emotion, and relationships between men and women. Later chapters deal with broad societal structures, including social classes, the family, religion, language and communication.

This book is two books into one. The first book is essentially how to get along in Arabic countries. The second book is on geopolitics.

When the author writes about Arabic social customs and misunderstanding between Arabs and Westerners, she is more often than not right on the mark. The two populations are obviously very different in their overall behavior and approach to many aspects of life. In a sense it is an extrapolation of the North/South behavioral axis you find in many countries. If you meet a Northern French or Italian, he typically will be more reserved, more serious, and somewhat introverted than his Southern counterpart who will be more joyful, louder, extrovert.

The North/South behavioral axis is not so pronounced in the U.S., as it is in many European countries. In any case, take this North/South axis and compound it several times, and you get an idea of the gulf between the typical Western behavior and the Arabic one. The author does an excellent job at explaining the differences between these two cultures. And, the information she imparts on this subject is truly useful for anyone traveling, working, or living in Arabic countries.

When the author shares her opinion about geopolitics, she is on quick sand. Her views on this subject are full of fallacies, contradictions, and errors. The author has no credentials and knowledge to support any of her subjective opinions. After all, her academic background is as an Arabic teacher. She has no academic degree in political science, international economics, demographics, or any other relevant discipline. And, it really shows.

Had she stuck to Arabic customs, her book would have been so much better.
There are many authors who will shed much light on the subjects of Arabs, Islam, and their relationship to the Western World. Some of the luminaries in this field include Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Friedman, and Robert Kaplan.

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Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (International Library of Iranian Studies)

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By Touraj Daryaee
Publisher: I. B. Tauris
Number Of Pages: 256
Publication Date: 2009-01-15
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 1850438986

Description: The Sasanians were the last of the ancient Persian dynasties, and the largest empire to espouse Zoroastrianism, before the encounter with the Arabs swept away the pre-Islamic institutions.

Using new sources, Touraj Daryaee provides a portrait of the empire’s often negelcted social history, exploring the development of political and administrative institutions from foundation by Ardashir I to the last king, Yasdegerd III, and the attempts of his descendants to re-estabish a second state for almost a century after.

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The Gülen Movement: A Sociological Analysis of a Civic Movement Rooted in Moderate Islam

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By Helen Rose Ebaugh
Publisher: Springer
Number Of Pages: 134
Publication Date: 2010-01-01
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 1402098936
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Description: This is one of the first academic books about Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish scholar and preacher, and the civic movement he inspired in Turkey and ultimately throughout the world. The movement is rooted in moderate Islam and is committed to educating youth, fostering interfaith and intercultural dialog, assisting the needy in society and contributing to global peace. Based on interview data and visits to Gülen-inspired institutions, the book describes the movement from a sociological perspective, especially through the lens of social movement theory.

It is the first book, grounded in empirical methodology, to describe the movement to a Western audience. It will be of special interest to social scientists interested in religious movements, religious scholars seeking information on Islamic movements and the general public eager to discover a moderate Islam that promotes humanitarian projects.

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Pandemic

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By Daniel Kalla
Publisher: Forge Books
Number Of Pages: 416
Publication Date: 2005-02-01
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 076535084X
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Pandemic thrillers appear to be one of the popular subjects for today's thrillers. Though published in 2005, this issue will contine to resonate.

Well-research and written, I believe the fear of a pandemic is real despite the probability being low. The fear is captured as well as the potential. What I did not like was the connection to, and blame on, Islamic terrorists. What could have been a decent thriller ala Outbreak turns into a predictable, cliche-riddle, well, terrorist story. Post 9/11 terrorism connections appear to be the rage as well and I wish today's authors would stay away from it like they would stay away from the flu described in this book. Though relevant, it has become common place and unoriginal.
I have not read Kalla's Resistance but after reviewing the notes for it, I fear it will be the same as Pandemic, only with a bacteria vice a virus.

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Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

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By Marnia Lazreg
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Number Of Pages: 184
Publication Date: 2009-08-16
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0691138184
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This was a common sense account of the writer's experience with family and friends who were constrained to wear the veil (generic term for Islamic covering)
from one who grew up with this question as part of the culture in Algeria, but was educated enough to know its history . Her decison to present the case histories, so to speak,in the form of letters gave the account an immediacy which brought thte issues to life. as letters gives the book an immediacy and personal feeling which brought the issues to life.
Description:
Across much of the world today, Muslim women of all ages are increasingly turning to wearing the veil. Is this trend a sign of rising piety or a way of asserting Muslim pride? And does the veil really provide women freedom from sexual harassment? Written in the form of letters addressing all those interested in this issue, Questioning the Veil examines the inconsistent and inadequate reasons given for the veil, and points to the dangers and limitations of this highly questionable cultural practice.

Marnia Lazreg, a preeminent authority in Middle East women's studies, combines her own experiences growing up in a Muslim family in Algeria with interviews and the real-life stories of other Muslim women to produce this nuanced argument for doing away with the veil.

Lazreg stresses that the veil is not included in the five pillars of Islam, asks whether piety sufficiently justifies veiling, explores the adverse psychological effects of the practice on the wearer and those around her, and pays special attention to the negative impact of veiling for young girls. Lazreg's provocative findings indicate that far from being spontaneous, the trend toward wearing the veil has been driven by an organized and growing campaign that includes literature, DVDs, YouTube videos, and courses designed by some Muslim men to teach women about their presumed rights under the veil.

An incisive mix of the personal and political, supported by meticulous research, Questioning the Veil will compel all readers to reconsider their views of this controversial and sensitive topic.

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Religion and Spirituality in Psychiatry

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By Philippe Huguelet MD, Harold G. Koenig MD


Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Number Of Pages: 384
Publication Date: 2009-03-30
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0521889529
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Although medicine is practiced in a secular setting, religious and spiritual issues have an impact on patient perspectives regarding their health and the management of any disorders that may afflict them.
This is especially true in psychiatry, as feelings of spirituality and religiousness are very prevalent among the mentally ill. Clinicians are rarely aware of the importance of religion and understand little of its value as a mediating force for coping with mental illness.

This monograph addresses various issues concerning mental illness in psychiatry: the relation of religious issues to mental health; the tension between a theoretical approach to problems and psychiatric approaches; the importance of addressing these varying approaches in patient care and how to do so; and differing ways to approach Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist patients.

This is the first book to specifically cover the impact of religion and spirituality on mental illness.

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British Muslims, Media Guide

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By Ehsan Masood


Publisher: The British Council, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists
Number Of Pages: 76
Publication Date: April 2006
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0863555691
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Acknowledgements
We would like to thank all those people and institutions who have supported the publishing of this book. Individuals whose contribution has been particularly significant are of course the author, Ehsan Masood and those who have helped with research, drafting and editorial advice at the various stages.
These include Fauzia Ahmad, Madeleine Bunting, Fuad Nahdi, Urmee Khan, Seema Khan, Samia Rahman, Shazia Khan, Shiraz Khan, Mohammed Siddique Seddon, Chris Allen, Ginny Marriott and Rachel Stevens.

The Muslim College, the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism, FED2000 and the International Institute of Islamic Thought have supported the project from the outset; and Dr Zaki Badawi was, until his death, a strong advocate.

The photographs are by Tim Smith (www.timsmithphotos.com) and Jak Kilby (jkilby@ukonline.co.uk) The British Council and its partners are not responsible for the contents of any external website referred to in this publication.
Design by Brahm © Copyright British Council 2006

from the back cover:

"This book describes Britain's Muslim communities, their history, present and future. The British Council, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists and partners are publishing it to strengthen international understanding of the diverse nature of British society, as a resource for journalists and others.

It is published in the belief that a detailed and many-sided understanding of communities within British society gives us all a fuller, more subtle, and more accurate picture of Britain, its faiths and its cultures."

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Classic Issues in Islamic Philosophy and Theology Today (Islamic Philosophy and Occidental Phenomenology in Dialogue)

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By A-T. Tymieniecka, Nazif Muhtaroglu
Publisher:   Springer
Number Of Pages:   188
Publication Date:   2009-12-02
ISBN-10 / ASIN:   9048135729
File : PDF - 1 Mb
 

Description: This collection of classic issues in Islamic theology and philosophy, authored by young Islamic scholars, is for Islamic and Occidental readers alike. While the questions are classic, these studies are not focused on historical matters.
They proceed from the authors’ personal quest, prompted by contemporary concerns as they seek to understand the old themes afresh as relevant to inherited Islamic wisdom. These studies strike us as initiating its contribution to the New Enlightenment, which emerges from the technologico-pragmatic turn of today’s universal situation, loosening its grip. 

Firstly, by their response to the present day call to revivify metaphysics, benefitting from the evolution of knowledge.
 

Secondly, the search for renewed Islamic illumination is manifested in our authors’ sharing their reflection in encounters with Occidental thinkers, renewing the precious ties between East and West that were formed in the Middle Ages and then disrupted.


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Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi'ism (Library of Modern Religion)

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By Abbas Amanat
Publisher :   I. B. Tauris
Pages:  304 |Publication Date:  2009-03-15
ISBN-10 / ASIN:  1845119819
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Description: Interest in Shi'i Islam is running at unprecedented levels. International tensions over Iran, where the largest number of Shi'i Muslims live, as well as the political resurgence of the Shi'i in Iraq and Lebanon, have created an urgent need to understand the background, beliefs and motivations of this dynamic vision of Islam. Abbas Amanat is one of the leading scholars of Shi'ism.
And in this powerful book, a showcase for some of his most influential writing in the field, he addresses the colorful and diverse history of Shi' Islam in both premodern and contemporary times. Focusing specifically on the importance of apocalypticism in the development of modern Shi'i theology, he shows how an immersion in messianic ideas has shaped the conservative character of much Shi'i thinking, and has prevented it from taking a more progressive course.

Tracing the continuity of apocalyptic trends from the Middle Ages to the present, Amanat addresses such topics as the early influence on Shi'ism of Zoroastrianism; manifestations of apocalyptic ideology during the Iranian Revolution of 1979; and the rise of the Shi'i clerical establishment during the 19th and 20th centuries.
His book will be an essential resource for students and scholars of both religious studies and Middle Eastern history.

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Medieval Cities: Their Origins and the Revival of Trade

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By Henri Pirenne

Publisher: Princeton University Press
Number Of Pages: 253 Publication Date: 1946
ISBN-10 / ASIN: B000RQMNTS
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In this classic book written in the 1920s, Belgian medieval historian Henri Pirenne tracks the revival of European cities in the Middle Ages. The first chapters lay out what would later be known as the Pirenne thesis: that the classical civilizations of the west were not destroyed by the Germanic invasions of the 5th century, but by the closing of Mediterranean trade in the 7th century, after the Arab conquest of North Africa and the Levant.

To defend his thesis, Pirenne shows how significant trade existed in the Mediterranean in the 5th and 6th century. Here I wonder whether it is not possible to adhere to an intermediate position, in the sense that the classical world received two blows (one from the germanic invaders, another from the arab expansion), from which it would not recover. In any case, there is little doubt that urban civilization had virtually disappeared in Western Europe by the 8th century.

The Carolingian renaissance of the 9th century was a very modest affair, and Europe would descend back into rural autarchy in the 9th and 10th century with the Viking invasions. It was only after the millenium, that Western European civilization started on its way to recovery, which Pirenne documents in the later chapters dealing with the revival of trade and urban civilization. By the mid 1300s, not even the terrible black death could hold urban civilization in Europe back. All in all, one of the greatest books about medieval economic life.


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The Jew, the Arab: A History of the Enemy (Cultural Memory in the Present)

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By Gil Anidjar


Publisher: Stanford University Press
Pages: 296 Publication Date: 2003-06-11
ISBN-10 / ASIN: 0804748233
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This is a remarkable book, complex and impossible to grasp fully at first reading. It is well worth perservering. Anidjar writes well and lucidly, but the ideas with which he is working are difficult and often intractable. His extraordinary skill is to bring together concepts rarely connected, and makes sense of the connection.

The book is part philosophy, part literary analysis, and embroidered with a very small element of 'history', as traditionally conceived. Although his subtitle is 'a history of the enemy' his whole work is to destabilise any clear idea of who the enemy actually is. Is he (or she) the enemy of the nation; or my brother or sister, or -even- am I my own enemy. Who knows better the dark secrets of the heart, the invisible fears, the unknown dark deeds ? Enemy, as Anidjar reveals, is so loaded with deeper connections and meanings, that we should not use it carelessly.

So, the title The Jew, the Arab, indicates another kind of enmity, and one we need to think about. One of the most tantalising elements of this book, and one of its greatest strengths is that the author never imposes himself on the reader, tells you what conclusions you need to draw. This is one reason to come back to it again and again. I am now reading it for the fifth time, disagreeing with much of it, but constantly stimulated and re-thinking what I thought before. This is the antidote to sound-bite culture, a book that is hard, provocative, thrilling, and above all, worth reading


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