In this impassioned, erudite, and deeply moving book, Abdelwahab Meddeb, born and raised in Tunis and now living in Paris, details the breadth and scope of the Arab intellectual tradition and dismantles common preconceptions held by the Islamic and Western worlds. He describes the growing resentment between the West and the Islamic world as being due, in large part, to Islam's drift away from its own pluralist tradition. Tracing the history of the "conquering" of the Arab world by the West, he provides a detailed history of the ways in which Islamic fundamentalism has come to compensate for Western dominance. Directly addressing the terrorist attacks of September 11, he challenges us to reconsider the presumption that the gulf between the Islamic world and the West is too wide to breach.The "malady" of Islam lies in its alienation from the West and the corrosive influence that fundamentalism has wrought. This book is a correction of the historical record, a passionate description of the best of Islamic thought and culture, and an absolutely necessary read for those seeking a better understanding not only of Islam but also ourselves.
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