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  1. Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples | Foreign Affairs
  2. In the Empire of Islam
  3. Beyond Belief : Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples
  4. Write a Review

He started this mixture of travel and oral history in his book about the southern United States, A Turn in the South , and continued in the same vein in his last book on India, A Million Mutinies Now. There are risks involved. Voices taken down verbatim, often in translation, can become wearisome. In Beyond Belief , I think he has got the balance about right.

Naipaul explains his technique in the beginning. His aim is not to offer his theories or political opinions.

Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples | Foreign Affairs

He said his task as a traveler and writer was to expose himself to new people. Far from…. The alternating between people and their stories like an original Pakistani Marxist, hidden love stories between peasants puting a whole lot at stake, and Nomadic people in Baluchistan makes the book interesting and keeps the reader alerted.

Put to the point as a criticism of Islam one could say Naipaul get to the point when he quote Saleem, the grandson of a rich farmer and cricket enthusiast, whom is able to name drop several Trinidadian cricket players states "there is no free will in Islam, Islam meant obedience, submission".

One of the strongest arguments Naipaul presents are the fact that the converted people must forget and wipe their own past once they have converted. The reader might not totally agree on all of the authors arguments, as when he presents the link between honour and poverty for reasoning about killing for honour. Naispaul is left with a quite shallow argument which could be more in depth as regarding logic and diversity.

But it is as stated, a religion well for the people in position to misconduct their power and live an unmoral life, immoral maybe to the principles of Islam. The link between Islam and Arabic culture needs to be more thorough. But Naispaul statement is quite clear as he sees Islam as Arabic imperalism, because everything in Islam is founded out from Arabic culture and always looks in that direction. The non fiction book is also about people, their lives, their stories, and their hopes, whom despite religion are recognizable in everyone of us, as a human with compassion, self respeckt and knowledge.

Mar 14, Katie rated it it was amazing Shelves: travel. Naipaul has an amazing ability to get people to reveal intimate details of their life stories - and then to thread the stories together to reveal deeper truths about a particular society.

In the Empire of Islam

The section on Indonesia where I live was good, but the sections on Iran and Pakistan were particularly thought provoking and kept me reading late into the night. View all 3 comments. Apr 05, Christopher rated it really liked it. In , Naipaul traveled through the four non-Arab Islamic countries Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia to explore how life has changed since the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini. His portraits are riviting and beautiful, though one must keep in mind Naipauls very conservative politics back home in India.

Feb 18, Dmitri rated it liked it Shelves: islam , travel.

Beyond Belief : Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples

The countries are portrayed as wounded survivors of past empires, subjected to 'the most uncompromising kind of imperialism', Islamic rule. The thesis drew howls of rage from defenders of the faith and apologists for theocracy. A new millennium and the spread of Islamist militancy lent credibility to his concerns, however. Naipaul was never political, and spoke only of his personal experiences. In his earlier non-fiction books Naipaul was part of the story, participating in the exploration of people and places that he encountered.

Here, he stays in the background, yet the analysis of what he sees is more pronounced. In Islam as with India, an initial cultural shock was replaced by a reaching out to understand. Naipaul guides the reader through a landscape of late 20th century parables. A Muslim scientist is persecuted by a secular regime, an Indonesian poet is troubled by his return to the countryside, an Iranian newspaper publisher struggles during the hostage crisis, a Pakistani guerrilla fights against the Zia military junta, a Malaysian son turns away from the shamanism of his father.

Each story augments a mosaic of people who lost their native identity in the currents of Pan-Islamism. He sees a culture imported from Arabia, a land distant to their home. In his thesis Naipaul conflates 7thth century conversions with a modern rejection of local customs and beliefs in favor of Islam. The possibility that Islam has become indigenous to many areas in the world, or that people's beliefs are no longer limited by regional boundaries does not seem to occur to him.

In this regard Islam is closer to Christianity or Communism, existing as an international ideology. For Naipaul there is a longing to return to a purity of place and culture, undisturbed by the displacement of modernity; to the homeland that was once lost to him. Feb 27, Drayton Bird rated it it was amazing. I got this book out of the library and put off reading it as it sounded like it might be hard work.

How wrong I was. Once I started I couldn't stop. If you want to know why Islam has grown, and how and why so many happily kill themselves for it, this tells you - even though it was written well before the current lunacy.


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That sounds a rather depressing recommendation, but the book is utterly fascinating - and made me understand why Naipaul won the Nobel Prize. He I got this book out of the library and put off reading it as it sounded like it might be hard work. He goes into prodigious detail, never criticizes, only describes people's astonishing lives with a quiet but sympathetic irony.

As it happens I have spent time in three of the four countries he covers - Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia - and recognised many of the things he talks about. His description of what had happened in the one I don't know - Pakistan - was deeply disturbing. It makes you realise what a disaster partition was -with the most appalling consequences, many surely yet to unfold. Sep 28, William rated it it was amazing Shelves: islam-western-views. Terrific, sequel to Among the Believers Naipaul revisits, over a decade later, some of the men and women he interviewed for his first book, and many others, living in Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

He reports on the pro-Westerners, followers of Islam all, as being if anything more embattled, while the Islamists are still more incongruous in their strenuous, sometimes hypocritical, attempts to follow and apply the admonitions of a fifth century book of spoken religious poetr Terrific, sequel to Among the Believers He reports on the pro-Westerners, followers of Islam all, as being if anything more embattled, while the Islamists are still more incongruous in their strenuous, sometimes hypocritical, attempts to follow and apply the admonitions of a fifth century book of spoken religious poetry literally to their own lives and behavior within the modernizing world.

His depictions of Iran are a bit sad, but his observations of Indonesia, where the regime is more tolerant, can be quite comical.

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His observations of Islam in general, arriving as they did immediately prior to Al Quaeda's attack on America, I found chilling. Jan 23, Patrick added it. I only read the section on Iran, but much of that section -"Justice of Ali" - was fascinating despite my reservations about Naipaul going into the book. It is extremely moving in its discussion of the 8 yr. My big complaint is that Naipaul does not give Iranian women a voice. He only includes the voices of the men he has interviewed, and though he has the opportunity to interview women, he inexplicably chooses to leave their voices out even as he acknowledges throug I only read the section on Iran, but much of that section -"Justice of Ali" - was fascinating despite my reservations about Naipaul going into the book.

He only includes the voices of the men he has interviewed, and though he has the opportunity to interview women, he inexplicably chooses to leave their voices out even as he acknowledges throughout the oppression and silencing of women in Iran. Terrific look at Islam's effect on non-Arab countries that previously had different histories and cultures e.

Iran, Indonesia. Naipaul is a tremendous observer of the human condition and above all, a true humanist. Hard to disagree with his conclusion that Islam is the most comprehensive form of imperialism, in that it erases any history that precedes it. The chapter on Pakistan is devastating, and that was written over ten years ago. View 1 comment.

If I had read this book a couple of years ago, I would absolutely disagree with Naipaul's observations. Now, I am not so sure. What has changed? This quote sums up the main premise of the book: "The cruelty of Islamic fundamentalism is that it allows only to one people - the Arabs, the original people of the Prophet - a past, and sacred places, pilgrimages and earth reverences.

These sacred Arab places have to be If I had read this book a couple of years ago, I would absolutely disagree with Naipaul's observations. These sacred Arab places have to be the sacred places of all the converted peoples.


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  • Converted peoples have to strip themselves of their past; of converted peoples nothing is required but the purest faith if such a thing can be arrived at , Islam, submission. It is the most uncompromising kind of imperialism". While reading this book, I was trying to steer clear of my own personal experiences and my interactions with Arab Muslim people. Looking back, I think I was asking too much of myself. This means that my review is dripping with bias and possibly resentment.

    I never doubted that how non-Arabs such as I practiced Islam was wrong until disagreements revealed otherwise. So, I can feel the pain of people who shared their experiences with Naipaul. I think Arab Muslims have an image of what a good Muslim should look and act like - given our geographical dispersion and our genetic differences, non-Arabs can never be 'good' Muslims.

    Such a shame, me think. In saying that, I think Naipaul misinterpreted conditions to suit the premise of this book. At the beginning he mentions that this book is not about opinions but personal stories. Few chapters or pages , he verbalises very strong opinions about all the four non-Arab countries he visited Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia.

    After reading the whole book, I feel his negative remarks were not only directed towards the Arab Muslims but the Non-Arab Muslims too. How he laid down history, he favoured the white man colonisation over the Arab Muslims. Not cool. Oct 08, Jonathan rated it really liked it Shelves: islam.

    The stories are really interesting. I don't think Naipaul's thesis is as accurate as he supposes at least as he believed at the time he wrote the book. But there is truth there, I think, too. I think the religions and cultural heritages pre-Islam were probably quite as bad in some ways as Naipaul believes Islam is. But I don't think he takes this into account as much as he should. In any event, I believe Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead years ago, so I believ The stories are really interesting.

    In any event, I believe Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead years ago, so I believe in one truth, one reality, and my interpretation is going to be very different from Naipaul's and different from those of many of his critics. I believe all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we have all gone our own way.

    Every single one of us. This means that we need God's grace and this grace has come in and through His Son, who is God, through his dying for sins and His rising to new life.