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Publisher's Summary

Why do Muslim-majority countries exhibit high levels of authoritarianism and low levels of socioeconomic development in comparison to world averages? Ahmet T. Kuru criticizes explanations that point to Islam as the cause of this disparity, because Muslims were philosophically and socioeconomically more developed than Western Europeans between the 9th and 12th centuries. Nor was Western colonialism the cause: Muslims had already suffered political and socioeconomic problems when colonization began.

Kuru argues that Muslims had influential thinkers and merchants in their early history, when religious orthodoxy and military rule were prevalent in Europe. However, in the 11th century, an alliance between orthodox Islamic scholars (the ulema) and military states began to emerge. This alliance gradually hindered intellectual and economic creativity by marginalizing intellectual and bourgeois classes in the Muslim world. This important study links its historical explanation to contemporary politics by showing that, to this day, the ulema-state alliance still prevents creativity and competition in Muslim countries.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Ahmet T. Kuru and Cambridge University Press (P)2022 Ahmet T. Kuru
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment

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Fascinating, important and narrated wonderfully

This is a great book. Professor Kuru does a masterful job of making it absolutely clear that Islam is not itself the cause of the underdevelopment, authoritarianism and violence that has seemed to characterize the Moslem world. It does so without being pedantic or obscure. He brings to life the vibrancy of the first four centuries of Islam in which philosophy and mercantilism led by far the Europe of the Dark Ages. He attributes the decline of the Islamic world after the 11th Century to the alliance between the ulama (the established interpreters of the Koran and hadith, educated in the madrasas) and the state. As he argues, this is not an intrinsic element of Islam but arose from particular historical conditions. He also points to a possible future where this alliance is replaced by democracy and freedom of thought and economic activity.

Mr. Barber's narration perfectly matched the clarity of Professor Kuru's text. Made walking or sitting on a park bench while listening a real pleasure. Highly recommendable.