We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations are heading towards inevitable conflict. The demographics of the West remain sluggish, while the population of the Muslim world explodes, widening the cultural gap and all but guaranteeing the outbreak of war. Leaving aside the media's sound and fury on this issue, measured analysis shows another reality taking shape: rapprochement between these two civilizations, benefiting from a universal movement with roots in the Enlightenment. The historical and geographical sweep of this book discredits the notion of a specific Islamic demography. The range of fertility among Muslim women, for example, is as varied as religious behavior among Muslims in general. Whether agnostics, fundamentalist Salafis, or al-Qaeda activists, Muslims are a diverse group that prove the variety and individuality of Islam. Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd consider different degrees of literacy, patriarchy, and defensive reactions among minority Muslim populations, underscoring the spread of massive secularization throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
In this regard, they argue, there is very little to distinguish the evolution of Islam from the history of Christianity, especially with Muslims now entering a global modernity. Sensitive to demographic variables and their reflection of personal and social truths, Courbage and Todd upend a dangerous meme: that we live in a fractured world close to crisis, struggling with an epidemic of closed cultures and minds made different by religion.
Youssef Courbage is research director at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies. His research concerns Arab and Muslim countries, Asia and Eastern Europe, and interactions among demography and politics. He has studied economics, sociology, demography, and urban planning at Lebanese and French universities. Emmanuel Todd is a researcher at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies and author of numerous books, including After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order, The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere, The Making of Modern France: Ideology, Politics, and Culture.
List of Figures and TablesIntroduction: Clash of Civilizations or Universal History1. The Muslim Countries in the Movement of History2. Crises of Transition3. The Arab Family and the Transition Crisis4. Other Muslim Women: East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa5. At the Heart of Islam: The Arab World6. The Non-Arab Greater Middle East7. After Communism8. Matrilocal Asia9. Sub-Saharan AfricaConclusionAppendixNotes
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