Wednesday, July 31, 2002
: . "Reading Up on Islam":
From NPR's All Things Considered, an interview with Edward Said during which he "shares his list of three books essential to understanding modern Islam":
- Classical Arab Islam: The Culture and Heritage of the Golden Age by Tarif Khalidi
- The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
- The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad
I'm not sure if All Things Considered host Robert Siegel was playing devil's advocate or simply betraying a liberal variant of American anti-intellectualism. Two examples:
"[I]n the name of opposing Orientalism... have people stopped stating the obvious to the detriment of people living in those politically and economically unreformed countries..."
"[S]ometimes when people simplify it is from within Islam and they're simplifying about everyone else as well..."
both of which not only endorse "simplifying" but also lend "simplifying" the appeal of "common sense" and moral urgency. But I'm being unfair to Robert Siegel...
The interview was prompted by Said's recent Harper's Magazine review essay entitled "Impossible Histories: Why the many Islams cannot be simplified." The essay is not online but as soon as I get my hands on a July 2002 issue of Harpers (maybe next week), I'll try to post some excerpts. To tide you over, here is Said's The Clash of Ignorance, a scathing review of Samuel Huntington's and Bernard Lewis' latest Orientalist ramblings.