Journey into Europe Islam, immigration, and identity

Akbar S. Ahmed

Book - 2018

An unprecedented, richly detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization.

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Subjects
Published
Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press [2018]
Language
English
Physical Description
573 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 527-551) and index.
ISBN
0815727585
9780815727583
Main Author
Akbar S. Ahmed (author)
  • Part I. European dialectic
  • Europe : turbulent and mighty continent
  • Primordial tribal identity in Europe
  • European pluralist identity
  • Part II. Islam in Europe
  • Muslim immigrants : the ghosts of European imperialism
  • Indigenous Muslims : "We are Europeans"
  • Muslim converts : seeking God in an age of secularism
  • Part III. Lessons from Europe
  • Judaism, Islam, and European primordial identity
  • Terrorism, immigrants, ISIS, and islamophobia : a perfect storm in Europe
  • Europe at the crossroads : monsters, modernity, and the imperative for convivencia.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Ahmed (The Thistle and the Drone), Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, turns his eyes to Europe in this sweeping ethnographic exploration of Islam and its multiple narratives across the continent. The central thread woven throughout is the question of "primordial identity" (an imagined ethnic essence and tribal memory) in the modern world. Through interviews, surveys of history, and reflections on his own experience, Ahmed argues that Islamic communities in Europe—whether they primarily identify as Muslim or European—need to turn away from these primordial identities and instead seek mutual flourishing through a "pluralist identity." As a model, he examines Andalusian, Balkan, and Sicilian communities and identities that are defined by the coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Ahmed is perhaps a bit utopian, and the language of the book can be simplistic when it frames Islam and Europe as opposing and separate entities. Nonetheless, this highly instructive work deserves careful and critical attention as people across the world wrestle with how to balance community with difference in an age of reinvigorated tribalism. (Feb.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An unprecedented, richly detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Explores Islam in Europe, discussing the place of Islam in European history and civilization, examining the relations between the West and the Muslim world, and offering recommendations to promote integration and pluralism in society.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An unprecedented, richly, detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in European history and civilization

Tensions over Islam were escalating in Europe even before 9/11. Since then, repeated episodes of terrorism together with the refugee crisis have dramatically increased the divide between the majority population and Muslim communities, pushing the debate well beyond concerns over language and female dress. Meanwhile, the parallel rise of right-wing, nationalist political parties throughout the continent, often espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric, has shaken the foundation of the European Union to its very core.

Many Europeans see Islam as an alien, even barbaric force that threatens to overwhelm them and their societies. Muslims, by contrast, struggle to find a place in Europe in the face of increasing intolerance. In tandem, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination cause many on the continent to feel unwelcome in their European homes.

Akbar Ahmed, an internationally renowned Islamic scholar, traveled across Europe over the course of four years with his team of researchers and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to investigate questions of Islam, immigration, and identity. They spoke with some of Europe’s most prominent figures, including presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Their findings reveal a story of the place of Islam in European history and civilization that is more interwoven and complex than the reader might imagine, while exposing both the misunderstandings and the opportunities for Europe and its Muslim communities to improve their relationship. Along with an analysis of what has gone wrong and why, this urgent study, the fourth in a quartet examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, features recommendations for promoting integration and pluralism in the twenty-first century.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

An unprecedented, richly, detailed, and clear-eyed exploration of Islam in European history and civilizationTensions over Islam were escalating in Europe even before 9/11. Since then, repeated episodes of terrorism together with the refugee crisis have dramatically increased the divide between the majority population and Muslim communities, pushing the debate well beyond concerns over language and female dress. Meanwhile, the parallel rise of right-wing, nationalist political parties throughout the continent, often espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric, has shaken the foundation of the European Union to its very core.Many Europeans see Islam as an alien, even barbaric force that threatens to overwhelm them and their societies. Muslims, by contrast, struggle to find a place in Europe in the face of increasing intolerance. In tandem, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination cause many on the continent to feel unwelcome in their European homes.Akbar Ahmed, an internationally renowned Islamic scholar, traveled across Europe over the course of four years with his team of researchers and interviewed Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to investigate questions of Islam, immigration, and identity. They spoke with some of Europe’s most prominent figures, including presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Their findings reveal a story of the place of Islam in European history and civilization that is more interwoven and complex than the reader might imagine, while exposing both the misunderstandings and the opportunities for Europe and its Muslim communities to improve their relationship. Along with an analysis of what has gone wrong and why, this urgent study, the fourth in a quartet examining relations between the West and the Muslim world, features recommendations for promoting integration and pluralism in the twenty-first century.