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November 19, 1982 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-11-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

36 Friday, November 19, 1982

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

THE CLOCK
557-4324

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A New Book Explains `Politics of Islam'

By CHARLES MADISON

Edward Mortimer, an
English journalist specializ-
ing in Middle East politics,
has written a clear and
clarifying book on the Pro-
tean nature of Islam, de-
scribing its historic spread
over three continents and
its current position in Mus-
lim countries.
It makes evident "what
Muslims think, and say,
and do . . . in what ways
political problems look
different to Muslims than to
other people, and why." It is
titled "Faith and Power:
The Politics of Islam" (Vin-
tage Books).
The introductory part
provides the historical
background, explains the
Muslim traditional attitude
toward political power, and
indicates the division of
Islam adherents over the
centuries. -
Stress is placed on the
cultural development of
Muslims during the early
Middle Ages, and their
decline as a result of the
invasions of the Mongols

and the Turks. The Mus-
lims therefore consid-
ered themselves superior
to Christians both cul-
turally and socially, with
Egypt being the chief
center of Islamic thought.
It should be stated that
Muslims based their reli-
gion on the faith that there
is no God but God, that
Mohammad was His mes-
senger, and that the Koran
was a message from God
and a guide to right conduct.
Over the ages their learned
men developed a tradition of
customs and practices based
on the Koran, and this tra-
dition has governed the life

and behavior of Muslims to
the present.

The main part of the book
contains a discussion of the
role played by Islam in our
own time. It deals with the
politics and practices of six
major Muslim societies, and
traces the interaction of
Islam and nationalism as
well as the religion and
religious institutions in the
life of each state. Chapters
are devoted to Turkey,

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Saudi Arabia, Pakistan —
the lands dominated by
Arabs, Iranian- Shi'ism and
revolution, and the condi-
tion of Muslims in the
Soviet Union.
Discussion is focused on
the differences and
similarities in these states
and the various potency of
Islam within them.
"The miracle of Islam,"
Mortimer sums up, "is
that it destroyed idolat-
ry,and the tragedy of the
Muslims has been that
they rendered religion
into the form of an ideal."

This - ideal -- --became

warped, for instance, when
dealing with Jews. Al-
though they regarded them
as the people of Abraham
and of the same God, the
emergence of Zionism and
the establishment of Israel
turned Muslims into fanati-
cal enemies despite the fact
that Israel occupies only a
sliver of their vast lands.
Notwithstanding their
long dedication to Islam, the
Muslims were unable to
avoid the rising power of
nationalism and the influ-
ence of Western Europe.
Thus, in Turkey,
nationalism replaced Islam
as the founding principle of
the state, while in Saudi
Arabia nationalism re-
mained wholly subservient
to Islam. In Pakistan — the
name being an acronym of
the sections comprising it —
the attempt to build
nationalism based on Islam
floundered.
The fourth type of
nationalism in several
states oscillated among the

first three. In the Soviet
Union the Muslim popula-
tion was kept in tight con-
trol, but treated relatively
well economically and cul-
turally.
Iran offers an extreme
example of Islamic
fanaticism. Until the 16th
Century it was governed
by the Sunni tradition, or
the mainstream of or-
thodox Islam based on
the teachings of
Mohammad and his
Companions. When the
Savafid dynasty gained
control of the country, it
made Shi'ism its - official
religion — a sect of Islam
which regarded Ali,
Mohammad's son-in-law
and cousin, the rightful
successor.
When the recent Shah
sought to turn Iran into a
European power, the
learned men of Shi'ism op-
posed him with fanatical
bitterness. Ruhollah Kho-
meini soon became the lead-
ing Ayatollah and in time
succeeded in deposing the
Shah. The ensuing revolu-
tion quickly degenerated
into fanatic rule, bloodshed
and war with Iraq.

The winds of Western
doctrine have made inroads
into Muslim life, and the
wealth of oil has affected
world politics, but the
endemic friction. among
Arabs has kept them from
uniting to their political ad-
vantage. The value of this
book is that it helps to
clarify the complex nature
of Islam and its fanatical
adherents.

Israeli Author Will Speak
. in Hebrew at the Book Fair

Israeli author Rivka Rass
will be the Jewish Book Fair
speaker 3 p.m. Sunday at
the main Jewish Commu-
nity Center. She will be ac-
companied by Michael
Kerem, Consul for Culture
and Communication ' of the
Consulate of Israel. They
will both speak in Hebrew
on "Israeli Culture and the
Jews."
Ms. Rass is the perma-
nent correspondent on cul-
tural affairs for Yediot
Ahronot. She also teaches at
the City College of New
York.
Among her books are
"Moscow and Jerusalem,
"The Mountain" and "Fairy
Tales of the Mind," which
became a popular TV series
in Europe. Ms. Rass is re-
placing author Amos Ke-
nen, who was unable to

* *

RIVKA RASS

attend Book Fair.
For information about the
remaining Book Fair
events, call the Jewish
Community Center Cul-
tural Arts Department,
661-1000, ext. 250.
*

SATURDAY

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English Yiddish Theater: "The Golden Land."

-

SUNDAY

10:30 a.m. — Aranka Siegal will speak on "Our Cultural
Heritage' UnderDuress."
1 p.m. — Yaffa Eliach will speak on "The Art of Jewish
Survival."
2 p.m. — Camp Maas Dance Village and Young Dancers
Company will perform "Deborah the Dybbuk" for chil-
dren. There is a charge.
2 p.m. — Zvi Gittelman will speak on "Soviet Jewish Immi-
gration — Is This the End of the Road?"
3 p.m. — Rivka Rass and Michael Kerem will speak in
Hebrew on "Israeli Culture and the Jews."
3 p.m. — Closing reception with Chaim Potok. .

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