Islam and the Arab Awakening

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One of the most important developments in the modern history of the Middle East, the so-called Arab Spring began in Tunisia in December 2010, bringing down dictators, sparking a civil war in Libya, and igniting a bloody uprising in Syria. Its long-term repercussions in Egypt and elsewhere remain unclear. Now one of the world's leading Islamic thinkers examines and explains it, in this searching, provocative, and necessary book.

Time Magazine named Tariq Ramadan one of the most important innovators of the twenty-first century. A Muslim intellectual and prolific author, he has won global renown for his reflections on Islam and the contemporary challenges in both the Muslim majority societies and the West. In Islam and the Arab Awakening, he explores the uprisings, offering rare insight into their origin, significance, and possible futures. As early as 2003, he writes, there had been talk of democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government and private organizations set up networks and provided training for young leaders, especially in the use of the Internet and social media, and the West abandoned its unconditional support of authoritarian governments. But the West did not create the uprisings. Indeed, one lesson Ramadan presents is that these mass movements and their consequences cannot be totally controlled. Something irreversible has taken place: dictators have been overthrown without weapons. But, he writes, democratic processes are only beginning to emerge, and unanswered questions remain. What role will religion play? How should Islamic principles and goals be rethought? Can a sterile, polarizing debate between Islamism and secularism be avoided?

Avoiding both naive confidence and conspiratorial paranoia, Ramadan voices a tentative optimism. If a true civil society can be established, he argues, this moment's fragile hope will live.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The prolific Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, assesses the Arab Spring with a multilayered approach. The iconoclastic scholar, who was refused admission to the United States under the George W. Bush administration, all but credits Bush, citing that president’s focus on the liberation of Iraq, coupled with his administration’s funding of nonviolent, social media training (often in the U.S. through NGOs) of many of the key Arab cyber-dissidents, who also received assistance from corporate giants like Google and Yahoo. As is Ramadan’s wont, he calls on Muslims, particularly those in Arab countries, to move past the repetitive justification of colonialism for their ills (which he argues results in an ill-advised favoring of Islamist parties) and rejection of all things Western. Ramadan further asserts that without robust development of Arab civil societies and unique Muslim cultural identities, and absent the liberation of Palestine and serious Muslim introspection, the Arab Spring will passively yield to essentially dictatorial governments once again. While not a light read, an armchair historian or newshound will enjoy keeping pace with Ramadan’s pinball analysis of the Arab Spring, which dings, beeps, and zings through the historic events of 2011 with fast aplomb. Ramadan’s various op-eds and writings in the Arab Spring period, some previously published only abroad, are all reprinted as appendixes. Agent: Felicity Bryan. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim Martin Luther."—Paul Donnelly, The Washington Post

"Tariq Ramadan, one of the foremost Muslim intellectuals...comes into his own as a historian and provoker of ideas. He notes how, in their Western representation, Muslim Arabs have shifted from the benighted, terrorist 'other' to the 'alter ego of the Western Universal."—The Independent

"Whether you agree with Ramadan's interpretation of events or vision for the future of the Muslim-majority nations, Islam and the Arab Awakening is a thoughtful and nuanced examination of the events others have termed the 'Arab Spring.' There is no question that Ramadan supports the rule of law, freedom of religion, and the right of self-determination for all peoples...If you are looking for a straightforward history, or want simple answers to complex problems, this book is not for you. But if you are trying to understand the issues facing the Muslim-majority nations today, Islam and the Arab Awakening is a good place to start."—CultureMob

"Ramadan has started to pave out the road to reform and changes in the understanding of Islam in Muslim communities in the West."—Le Monde Diplomatique

"Tariq Ramadan, a prominent intellectual-activist in Europe and America, represents a new generation of Islamic reformers."—John L. Esposito, author of Unholy War and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199933730
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 484,994
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University, and is President of the European Muslim Network in Brussels. His books include What I Believe, Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation, In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, and Islam, the West, and the Challenges of Modernity.

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Table of Contents


Part 1: The Thick of Things
1. A matter of terminology: revolution/uprising/spring?
2. Predictable, unpredictable?
3. Not Islamist, but Islamic
4. When the other ceases to be the other

Part 2: Cautiously optimistic
1. Understanding: conspiracy or liberation
2. Differentiated Treatments
3. The role of the media
4. Bin Laden's death
5. On the West, Politics and Economy
6. The Challenges of the Arab World

Part 3: Islam, Secularization and Islamism
1. Islam and Islamism
2. Secularization
3. False debates, true debates
4. Two interacting crises a. Proponents of secularization and secularity b. Proponents of tradition, Conservatives and Islamism

Part 4: The Islamic reference
1. The End of political Islam?
2. Towards the''Civil State''
3. In the Name of Justice: Thinking out the alternative
4. Social and political issues
5. Economic issues
6. Culture


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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 2, 2013

    I think this was a very good book.It gives you an excelent repor

    I think this was a very good book.It gives you an excelent report on the situation with the arab awaking. He writes very well and always keeps you interested, also clear and based on facts. I recommend this book to everyone who want to know more about this topic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    The ideas are great ... the style ...

    As regards ideas, pretty good. As regards style, BADLY professorial & in need of strict editing. Could have been 1/3 shorter with no loss to reader. Wanted to see why he's well-regarded, & his ideas justify that.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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