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Varieties of Muslim ExperienceEncounters with Arab Political and Cultural Life$
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Lawrence Rosen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226726168

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226726182.001.0001

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Introduction: Presenting and Representing Islam

Introduction: Presenting and Representing Islam

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: Presenting and Representing Islam
Source:
Varieties of Muslim Experience
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226726182.003.0001

Ethnocentrism is a dirty word. To approach another culture solely from the judgmental perspective of one's own is both unwise and immoral. However, one cannot throw context out the door and not expect it to rush back in through the window. Indeed, once we recognize that it is from some particular place that, in the best of circumstances, we try to make sense of other cultures, we can actually use that stance to advantage. The essays in this book address questions in a way that acknowledges some of the starting points from which the sympathetic Western reader may approach the variety of Muslim experience. The book frequently refers to Islam and Muslims rather than just Arabs. It discusses the problematic elements of Western encounters with Arab culture and examines what is it that makes reading the Quran such a difficult and even boring prospect for most Westerners. The last section of the book raises several aspects of political culture, focusing on why some Arabs with training in science would be attracted to fundamentalism.

Keywords:   ethnocentrism, Muslim experience, Muslims, Arabs, Islam, Arab culture, political culture, fundamentalism, Quran

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