It is Michelle Alexander's experience as a lawyer which makes this such a successful piece. It is not novelty that makes this book so profound, but thIt is Michelle Alexander's experience as a lawyer which makes this such a successful piece. It is not novelty that makes this book so profound, but the authority upon which the argument is made: simple statistics and inarguable facts. In the very beginning, Mrs. Alexander states for whom this book was written: people who have a hard time convincing friends, neighbors and others that there is something oddly familiar with the current order. She has done this perfectly and thus I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a hard time convincing others that the current state of Blackamerica is not due to a mortal/cultural flaw, but instead stems from a perfect storm of institutional control that perhaps was initially well-intended, but at present insist upon maintaining a status quo that has decimated the African-American community and is doing the same to our Latino brothers and sisters.
I was both vindicated and saddened in finding evidence from a lawyer in confirmation of my understanding that the United States Supreme Court, particularly the current make-up, has been a friend to the political and economic elite of this country, an enemy to the politically impotent masses and a main obstacle against any meaningful change in society at large. It was both shocking and appauling to see that the chief justices in the land acknowledging the existence of corrosive racism that has become inherent in the criminal "justice" system, while refusing to do anything but maintain the status quo since the only viable solution would be to dismantle the system - something which they deemed impossible. Once we reach that level of protectionism by the very same institution that is supposed to be the ultimate check on executive and legislative authority, what is left but a complete overhaul of the system - dare I say "revolution"?
The only criticism I have is that in her initial summary of the chapter contents, she seems to often have simply copied key sentences word for word, which is rather annoying, but minimal (and easily forgotten). Stylistically, it made for a redundancy and the book perhaps would have been better off without any foreshadowing summaries at all (current and future authors take note).
It has always been my person theory that most conspiracies are not concocted in smokey backrooms, but simply come into existence when particular interests converge and work towards the same goal in a previously established order. In short, what you have before you is the anatomy of just such a conspiracy and an uncomfortable reality that needs to be first acknowledged before we can ever begin to talk about social, racial and economic justice in the United States in any meaningful way. ...more
It reads like a textbook and is an obvious Oriental work of scholarship, hence in regards to religious themes, works off of a few questionable premiseIt reads like a textbook and is an obvious Oriental work of scholarship, hence in regards to religious themes, works off of a few questionable premises (e.g. the alleged agreed upon closure of the gate of ijtihad, the Hanbali school being the premier Traditionalist school that is more faithful to the sources of Islamic law than the others, popular Sufism being tied to "Orthodox" Sufism - though the distinction is made, constant references to saint worship, etc.). I imagine much of this is based on the perceptions of the writers Lapidus relied upon (the bibliography alone is about 60 pages). That being said, I believe the book is unparalleled in the scope and encylopedic amount of informative it gives. Ira Lapidus seeks to weave socio-political backdrops into his telling of history and generally avoids making judgments on purely religious matters and for that reason, the book is quite tolerable and is about as objective as a Western scholar can possibly be. It is not a religious history and someone looking or expecting such will be disappointed. Pre-Islamic Arabia, the Prophetic Era and age of the Rightly-Guided Successors are a chapter each and span a mere 50 pages total. Given the period of which he is covering (which represents 800 pages in 10 pt font) one would have to refer to supplemental material to get alternative views on some of the debatable details he mentions.
For example, Abdal Hakim Murad's article "The Spiritual Life of Ottoman Turkey" provides some missing information and clarifications in respect to the strands and role of Sufism in the Ottoman Empire. Ira Lapidus has a very positive view of the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of the Naqshbandi Order - presumably because of the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi role in hadith scholarship during the modern Reform era. Others, however, are not described as frequently in the same light and often little distinction is made between groups like the Qalandariya (which Abdal Hakim Murad clarifies was a heterodox synergic popular movement) and the Shadhilis of North Africa. For instance, the Darqawa are claimed to have had little regard for the "repetition of prayers" (which is presumably dhikr), in favor of Sufic dancing and singing, and are purported to have a legacy of the charismatic strain of Sufi influence. It seems unclear whether or not Ira Lapidus properly understood the relationship between the various personalities. He credits Abu Madyan with reforming Sufism in North Africa, proliferating what he calls the "Sunni-shari'a-Sufi" model, declares Abul Hasan al-Shadhili to be his main heir, and then describes the Darqawa as I have mentioned, implying that they were a shrine-centered popular Berber expression at varous places - perhaps confusing the esteem in which certain Sufis were held by rural populations to be the mark of shrine-worship and popular religion. Even a cursory read of Mawlay al-Arabi's Rasa'il will demonstrate how off such a description is. Though I clearly have personal reasons and biases (or first-hand knowledge depending on your point of view) to be so annoyed at such a characterization, my greater concern is that someone who already has a distorted or ideological view of Sufism and its people will only walk away with increased disgust and/or confirmation.
All that being said, minus an equally comprehensive English alternative amongst Muslim literature, it is indespensible to any student of Muslim history. I gave it a star automatically for the sheer magnitude of what he accomplished, despite mistakes such as the above.
This is my second read (I don't think I completed a first one as I was looking for a more religiously oriented history at the time) and it was recommended to me by a dear friend (along with A History of Arab Peoples - another book which has collected dust on my various book shelves). It is an excellent starting point, but given its length and academic/collegiate style, people who are not interested in history as a discipline may have trouble completing the work and will feel the effects of boredom rather quickly. It isn't one of those books that you can breeze through. His aims in not to entertain, but to inform and I believe the book was written with the specific intention to serve as a university textbook. Of note is his description of the geo-political circumstances which lead to the eventual eclipse of Muslim dominance by a progressive European hegemeny, which seems to be the springboard by which he takes the reader through the rise and fall of the various empires. There is a great deal of emphasis on political and institutional foundations - which again makes the book more of a political science textbook. I imagine that this makes the chapters on the contemporary Muslim world all the more relevant, but that will have to wait until I reach the sections which discuss the contemporary world - God willing....more
It has actually been a while since I read this book, but it is a thorough description of the attitude that students should have with teachers. AnyoneIt has actually been a while since I read this book, but it is a thorough description of the attitude that students should have with teachers. Anyone who is interested in acquiring knowledge from classically trained scholars should begin with this book....more
This is what happens when a realized gnostic and spiritual guide writes a book about the relationship and aims between a murid and his/her shaykh. ItThis is what happens when a realized gnostic and spiritual guide writes a book about the relationship and aims between a murid and his/her shaykh. It speaks to his spiritual station and the strength of his experience. Its small size conceals its weightiness and Sidi Mokrane (the translator and note-taker) adds nur upon nur by completing it with selections from his Adab al-Mardiyya and a few of his rasa'il to his students. The notes themselves are amazing, as they are primarily translations from relevant secondary sources by authors just as powerful as Sidi al-Buzaydi. No one affiliated to the author should be without this book and the only thing that can be said is that I wish the first appendix was a full translation and even more letters were included. When one considers that Sidi al-Buzaydi was not a "scholar" in the formal sense of the word, it is nothing short of a proof establishing the veracity and precious nature of Orthodox Sufism....more
I was first referred to Fethullah Gulen by Sh. Faraz Rabbani during a SunniPath seerah class after previously been completely clueless to his name. ThI was first referred to Fethullah Gulen by Sh. Faraz Rabbani during a SunniPath seerah class after previously been completely clueless to his name. This is one of the best contemporary books that I have read on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is not a work of seerah, rather, it is more along the lines of the Shifa` of al-Qadi `Iyad, in describing the personality of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his functions, as opposed to giving a chronological view of his life.
Gulen gives a literary presentation of the topics discussed in the nubawwat section of any `aqida text and he clarifies a number of issues with a specific audience in mind. This book is a must read for new converts, as it addresses many mistaken notions and intentional lies/distortions that almost everyone is subject to. After discussing the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and a wide array of subjects related to him and his public functions, he then gives a very well written, extremely accessible defense of the hadith corpus AND the necessity of following the Sunna for everyone who claims to love the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
I regret waiting so long to read this book, as the introduction includes a description of Fethullah Gulen's interfaith outreach and I have developed a great deal of skepticism towards such activities, as it typically involves placing Islam on the buffet table of religious ideologies, as someone once put it. Far from that, Gulen not only is someone with complete conviction in the Prophet's (Allah bless him and give him peace) mission, status and rank before God, but he also is clearly a lover of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the entire book is an attempt to instill this love in the minds and hearts of the reader. I also admit that it was rather refreshing to see an author unapologetically and lovingly mention the names of the heads of several Sufi orders in a work about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
I believe it was Sh. Abd al-Hakim Murad who said that the Islamic revival will more than likely be lead by Turkish intellectuals and after reading this book, I can only hope such a prediction comes true. The modern Turks (who are not military secularists) do not seem to have the hang-ups that the modern Arabs have and had it been the former instead of the latter who currently enjoys a leadership role in the religious psyche of the ummah, I would imagine that things would be much different.
It is only because this book is better suited for people who have not had much reading/study in Islamic theology that I have not given it 5 stars. For people whom fit that category, it goes in my required reading list....more
One of the best and most comprehensive statements of Islamic creed currently in the English language. As such, it may be a bit much for those who haveOne of the best and most comprehensive statements of Islamic creed currently in the English language. As such, it may be a bit much for those who have not already studied the basics of creed and rational thought. It also is one of the best testimonies of Abu Hanifa's true beliefs and the subsequent faithfulness and orthodoxy of the Maturidi school of thought. For a more introductory exposition of mainstream Islamic creed according to Abu Hanifa's school, please see: The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi....more
A very concise, well written, practical summary of naturopathic wisdom regarding nutrition and health. 95% of the exercises need nothing more than a bA very concise, well written, practical summary of naturopathic wisdom regarding nutrition and health. 95% of the exercises need nothing more than a ball or set of steps. Tai Chi facial exercises aside, I highly recommend the book and there is no recommendation that is not supported by traditional medicine practioners. If you are not willing to completely change your eating, shopping and overall lifestyle habits, then go buy a Men's Health magazine. If you want to feel better and take control back over your body, then take a trip to Amazon.com...more