Faith and Power Religion and Politics in the Middle East

Review :

One of the West's foremost scholars of the Islamic world, Bernard Lewis's "Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East// collects a series of essays and speeches, many never before published. While all of the entries fit into the broad category reflected by the title, they cover a range of topics. Some familiar with Lewis's previous excellent works on the relationship between Europe and the Islamic world, may find a few repetitive. A few essays stand out as particularly insightful, such as one on historic gender roles in Ottoman and Arab culture and another on the sources of historical political legitimacy in the Islamic tradition. Another chapter on the relationship between religion and the potential for democracy in the Middle East also makes for thought provoking reading.

Of late there has been a great and continuing effort to pigeonhole Lewis, both by his academic rivals and those with a political axe to grind. What comes across clearly in these essays, however, is instead the work of a complex intellectual with an impressive command of facts, a nuanced analysis of the region and its history, and an abiding admiration for his subject.


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