Author: Massad, Joseph A.
Brand: University of Chicago Press
Number Of Pages: 404
Release Date: 07-03-2016
Details: Product Description
In the popular imagination, Islam is often associated with words like oppression, totalitarianism, intolerance, cruelty, misogyny, and homophobia, while its presumed antonyms are Christianity, the West, liberalism, individualism, freedom, citizenship, and democracy. In the most alarmist views, the West’s most cherished values—freedom, equality, and tolerance—are said to be endangered by Islam worldwide. Joseph Massad’s Islam in Liberalism explores what Islam has become in today’s world, with full attention to the multiplication of its meanings and interpretations. He seeks to understand how anxieties about tyranny, intolerance, misogyny, and homophobia, seen in the politics of the Middle East, are projected onto Islam itself. Massad shows that through this projection Europe emerges as democratic and tolerant, feminist, and pro-LGBT rights—or, in short, Islam-free. Massad documents the Christian and liberal idea that we should missionize democracy, women’s rights, sexual rights, tolerance, equality, and even therapies to cure Muslims of their un-European, un-Christian, and illiberal ways. Along the way he sheds light on a variety of controversial topics, including the meanings of democracy—and the ideological assumption that Islam is not compatible with it while Christianity is—women in Islam, sexuality and sexual freedom, and the idea of Abrahamic religions valorizing an interfaith agenda. Islam in Liberalism is an unflinching critique of Western assumptions and of the liberalism that Europe and Euro-America blindly present as a type of salvation to an assumingly unenlightened Islam.
Islam in Liberalism comprises a sequence of very rich and erudite forays into pivotal discursive domains in which Western liberalism has defined itself in defining its Islamic Other (democracy, 'the woman question, ' sexuality, psychoanalysis, 'semitism'). Much of the book consists of close readings which are both illuminating (none more perhaps than his dissection of the UNDP's
Arab Human Development Report 2005) and unsparing--especially when it involves refuting his critics, which he does with a kind of philological relentlessness in expansive footnotes that I imagine will deter many a potential future critic."--Anne Norton "Alberto Toscano, Syndicate Theology"
"Islam in Liberalism is required reading for anyone invested in Muslim Studies. This book reminds us that in order to move beyond scholarship revolving around a simplistic binarism between West and non-West, we must never forget how this opposition has shaped and continues to actively influence scholarship today. Furthermore, studying 'Islam' requires unpacking this term, which has become a reified, catch-all signifier in much Western scholarship. More than that, though, it may suggest that some of what is called Muslim Studies is less about something called 'Islam' than it is about liberalism. Thus, anyone who seeks to study Islam within a Western context must also undertake, as a necessary correlate to Muslim Studies, something that might be called Liberalism Studies."--Anne Norton "Los Angeles Review of Books"
"This is a compelling work of scholarship by a committed public intellectual that is both insightful and timely, one that speaks to the general public and to academics. Massad does not deny that well intentioned struggles can be pursued under the banner of liberalism and its attendant human rights norms. He insists, however, that such struggles (for example, by activists for nongovernmental organizations) are doomed if they are not cognizant of the role of liberalism as an ideology of colonial and imperial history."--Anne Norton "Journal of Palestine Studies"
Islam in Liberalism is a timely and important book to read, particularly as it urges us to continue to reflect in new ways not only on the prevalent imperial order, intellectual and militaristic, of spreading and securing 'democracy and freedom' but also on how Islam persistently
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