Ali Allawi’s book on the crisis of Islamic civilization received more attention than most recent volumes on the subject, including a brief note in the London Economist April 16. I reviewed it in a “Spengler” essay this morning in Asia Times. It is a very good book, in the sense that it is honest and informative. Mr. Allawi, who served in the American-backed Iraqi government, has a dim view of the prospects of Islamic civilization. I began my review:
A grim assessment of Islam’s survival prospects concludes this book-length essay by a prominent Iraqi politician who recently served as minister of defense and finance in the American-backed Iraqi government. Unless Muslims can restore Islam as a “complete way of life” embracing the public as well as the private sphere,
The much heralded Islamic “awakening” of recent times will not be a prelude to the rebirth of an Islamic civilization; it will be another episode in its decline. The revolt of Islam becomes instead the final act of the end of a civilization.These are the last words of Ali W Allawi’s book and might serve as Islam’s epitaph, for the restoration of the Islamic civilization he proposes seems fanciful. Allawi dismisses the notion that Islam might evolve into a personal religion of private conscience. Islam, he insists, offers an all-or-nothing proposition. Muslims either will “live an outer life which is an expression of their innermost faith” and “reclaim those parts of their public spaces which have been conceded to other world views over the past centuries”, or “the dominant civilizational order” will “fatally undermine whatever is left of Muslims’ basic identity and autonomy”.