Saturday, January 21, 2006

Between Islamofascism and Islamophobia

In this age defined in extremis by physical and verbal rampages of Islamofascists who claim to be defending Islam on one hand and Islamophobes on the other, books written by Anglo-American Jewish scholar Professor Bernard Lewis such as What Weng Wrong? The Clash Between Islam And Modernity In The Middle East (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002) are always controversial.

On one hand, he is intensely disliked by many Islamofascists because he knows Islam and Muslim societies more than them, on the other, he is also not favoured by people who suffer from Islamophobia (Islamophobes) because he never attacks the five fundamental tenets of the religion.

However, the depth and width of Bernard Lewis' knowledge about Islam and Muslim societies in all their stages of historical development is beyond doubt or question. He also articulates and presents his knowledge, ideas, observations and analyses with elegant and easy-to-understand English. He shows the way of observing, evaluating as well as commenting on certain aspects of Muslim societies critically and intelligently without malice or hatred.

Bernard Lewis, 90, has also been a proliferic writer and author. His latest magnum opus The Crisis of Islam - Holy War and Unholy Terror (New York, The Modern Library, 2003) has sold millions of copy throughout the world, including Arabic edition in the Middle East. Another one I have read is the magisterial The Middle East - 2000 Years of History From The Rise of Christianity to the Present Day (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000).

His books are sold in bookshops like Kinokuniya in Malaysia and Singapore. They also be ordered online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Even now, you can google "Bernard Lewis" to read some of his writings as well as those of his critics for free. You don't need Umno's or Internal Security Ministry's or any Snoop Squads' approval to know or read Bernard Lewis.

Bernard Lewis