Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lost in the Sacred: Why the Muslim World Stood Stiill -- a look at a Muslim World in crisis

LOST IN THE SACRED explains why.

“A controversial but refreshingly un-Anglo-Saxon search for answers to some outsized questions.”—Michael Cook, Princeton University

In LOST IN THE SACRED: Why the Muslim World Stood Still (Cloth $29.95 ISBN: 978-0-691-12911-2 Pub date: February 25, 2009), Dan Diner takes readers on an unforgettable intellectual journey, from today’s global conflicts to the distant past in an attempt to answer one daring and all-important question: What is the reason for the Muslim world’s hampered development?

Drawing careful distinctions between the Muslim faith itself and the nature of the sacred that is infused into every aspect of life, Diner argues that the meaning and impact of the sacred is the main cause of the Muslim world’s slow growth. To reach this controversial conclusion, Diner first examines the Arab Human Development Report (2002)—”a meticulous, unsparing, and comprehensive account of the lamentable state of the Arab world”—before delving into the past.

In subsequent chapters, Diner discusses the creation of the Turkish Republic and the accompanying abolishment of Islamic institutions, the different trajectories taken by the West and the Muslim world in the early modern era, and how Islam’s classical era created institutions and legal ordinances that were imbued with the sacred. He also asks specific questions like—did the delay in the introduction of the printing press in the Muslim world impede the spread of knowledge and development? Does Islam’s understanding of time and history prevent the linear development we’ve seen in the West? Did the division of language into high Arabic and colloquial Arabic hinder the dissemination of knowledge?

LOST IN THE SACRED is written with deep sympathy for the Arab and Muslim world, while simultaneously illustrating the urgent need for secularization and modernization in Islam.

“Dan Diner’s breadth of knowledge, capacity for clear and broad interpretation, and stylistic sovereignty will no doubt make this a classic in the field.”—Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

“Lost in the Sacred offers a broad synthesis on a key problem of the contemporary Middle East, hence of the world at large.”—Rémi Brague, author of The Law of God

About the Author:
Dan Diner is professor of modern history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig. His books include Beyond the Conceivable: Studies on Germany, Nazism, and the Holocaust and Cataclysms: A History of the Twentieth Century from Europe’s Edge.

Why the Muslim World Stood Still
Dan Diner
Translated by Steven Rendall
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-691-12911-2 $29.95 / £17.95
226 pp. 6 x 9
Pub date: February 25, 2009

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