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Sometimes we know chunks of history, but do not fully comprehend the progression (or regression, for that matter). With this book, I was better able to understand the backstory of Modern nation-states and festing wounds that linger to this day.

The author unapologetically takes us through glorious, revolting, violent, embarrassing moments in Muslim history, building up to the present times.

When we read a country’s history, too often, we tend to read it in isolation. What this book seeks to highlight are eerily similar patterns playing throughout the Muslim world – the push and pull of secular modernists, reformists, and reactionaries.

With the end of world war II, the question looming in everyone’s mind was this: what does the weakness of Muslims in the face of colonial powers implies about our faith as a collective?

“Reformers could not merely offer proposals for achieving more authentic religious experiences. They had to explain how their recommendations for authenticity would restore the splendor of the Umma, and get moving towards proper course in history.

One response was to say that what needed changing was not Islam, but Muslims. Innovation, alterations, and accretions had corrupted the faith so that no one was practicing true Islam anymore what Muslims needed to shut out Western influence and restore Islam to its pristine, original form.

Another was to say that the Muslims had gotten mired in obsolete religious ideas and had ceded control of Islam to ignorant clerics. That they needed to modernize their faith along Western lines by clearing out superstition, renouncing magical thinking, and rethinking Islam as an ethical system compatible with science and secular activities.

A third response was to declare Islam the right religion but concede that Muslims had certain things to learn from the West. Muslims needed to modernize but could do so in a distinctively Muslim way: science was compatible with the Muslim faith and modernization did not have to mean Westernization.

I haven’t read a book on history faster than this one. As the author mentions in the foreword, if you want a scholarly discussion on Islamic history, read the textbooks and academic papers. However, if you want a casual conversation about the Muslim world’s history, then read Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

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