Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Sultans' Preachers.

Recently I have been spending much more time reading than writing and I must admit I found myself amidst a difficult conflict between the urge to blog more and the need to read more but reading won at the end, especially that I hardly read a half dozen books during the last three years while I was busy writing several hundreds of posts.

I consider myself particularly lucky that I could read some very interesting books, thanks to the three bookworms in the family; Mohammed, Ali and the ITM father.
They were excited that I decided to do more reading and flooded me with recommendations for books they consider must reads.

One of the best books I read lately was the one jewel of a book "The Sultans' Preachers" by late Dr. Ali al-Wardi, Iraq's 20th century's brilliant sociologist and sharp, straightforward thinker.

This book, unfortunately not available in English so far, is in my opinion a must read for anyone who wants to build good understanding of the Arab and Muslim countries and the factors that shaped the culture over centuries until it reached what we see today.
The author in this book takes a close look at the conflict that arose between the Bedouin culture of pre-Islam desert Arabs and the teachings of Islam and sheds light on what he calls the "double personality" of Muslim Arabs which was the most visible and destructive outcome of that psychological conflict.

The best thing about the book is the direct and frank way it tackled the relationship between rulers and clerics; the two wings of the unholy alliances that controlled, persecuted and abused the peoples of the region for so long, each with its own special tools.

I'm not good at writing reviews but all I can say is that this was the most informative and mind-opening book about Iraq and the Arabic Islamic culture I've ever read; especially when it comes to analyzing the relationship between religion and the state and exposing the role of clerics in facilitating the atrocities that were committed against humanity in the name of the Islamic faith.

And I believe it can be so handy to researchers, politicians and anyone interested in Middle Eastern culture, history and politics, so if there's anyone reading this and has the capability and interest in making a valuable book available for western readers then I encourage them to consider this one.

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