Author(s): Abdelwahab Meddeb
A remarkable and important contribution to the discussion of the West's relationship with the Islamic world, particularly in the light of the events of last September, and, crucially, by an Arab rather than a Western expert.
Abdelwahab Meddeb's book has been a phenomenal success in France, greeted as a crucial contribution to the debate around the West's relationship with Islam. An 'essay' in the classic sense of the word, in it's brief compass Meddeb analyses Islam's relationship with the modern world and its fatal weakness of fundamentalism. Ranging from Medina at the time of the Prophet Mohammed through the Baghdad of the Abbasids, the impact of the Crusades and the beginnings of wahhabism in the 18th century and from Nietzsche to Goethe and the impact of September 11, Meddeb shows how Islam's tendency towards fundamentalism has been exacerbated by the developments of modernity. Powerfully even-handed, the book identifies both the weaknesses of Islam in relating to modernity, as well as the failings of the West in its dealings with the Islamic world. In all the outpouring of analysis since Sepetmber 11, 2001, this book stands alongside a handful of others as a crucial text in understanding the world in which we now live.
A writer, poet and novelist, Meddeb was born in Tunis and now lives in Paris. He teaches comparative literature at the University of Paris X at Nanterre and he has been a visiting professor at Yale University.