Introduction: Presenting and Representing Islam

in Varieties of Muslim Experience

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780226726168
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226726182 | DOI:
Introduction: Presenting and Representing Islam

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Ethnocentrism is a dirty word. To approach another culture solely from the judgmental perspective of one's own is both unwise and immoral. However, one cannot throw context out the door and not expect it to rush back in through the window. Indeed, once we recognize that it is from some particular place that, in the best of circumstances, we try to make sense of other cultures, we can actually use that stance to advantage. The essays in this book address questions in a way that acknowledges some of the starting points from which the sympathetic Western reader may approach the variety of Muslim experience. The book frequently refers to Islam and Muslims rather than just Arabs. It discusses the problematic elements of Western encounters with Arab culture and examines what is it that makes reading the Quran such a difficult and even boring prospect for most Westerners. The last section of the book raises several aspects of political culture, focusing on why some Arabs with training in science would be attracted to fundamentalism.

Keywords: ethnocentrism; Muslim experience; Muslims; Arabs; Islam; Arab culture; political culture; fundamentalism; Quran

Chapter.  2890 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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