➵ Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes Read ➼ Author Tamim Ansary – Saudionline.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 390 pages
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
  • Tamim Ansary
  • English
  • 21 May 2018
  • 9781586488130

10 thoughts on “Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

  1. says:

    Right time, right place, right style, this is 100% recommended.This is vast but fast history you have to hang on to your hat, or whatever you hang on to, which might not be a hat, since the kind of hats which a strong wind might snatch from your head are rarely worn today In this book a lot of obscure places and people go rushing by, like a speeded up film, like a boiling river Obscure to a Western reader, that is, but I m going to hazard that Transoxiana, Khorasan, Ctesiphon, and the exact difference between Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids and Safavids might tax your regular Muslim on the street too.Tamim Ansary writes in a chatty, slangy, motormouth style Like a friendly history professor You re out for a beer with this guy and you ask the fatal question what s up with these Muslims anyhow What are they all about Forty hours later, Tamim is still talking Telling you how, why, all about it, from the top to the bottom, with many glints of humour to get you through some very harrowing stuff Sometimes the chat is a little too casual, and he comes across as your uncle trying to prove he s down with the kids by doing the frug, not the best choice One city they attacked in northern Afghanistan was called well, I don t even know what it was called originally P153For three years he and his band roamed the wilds, looking for a new kingdom kinging was all he knew, and king was the only job title he was seeking P190.Between 1500 and 1800 western Europeans sailed pretty much all over the world and colonised pretty much everything P217The sultan never made another attempt on Vienna but his contemporaries saw no sign of weakness in this Conquer Vienna remained on his to do list always.P221But really, I don t care because this was surely a beautiful change from your usual pompous history writing Tamim lays out the usual story we already kind of know for the first half of the book This is where Islam erupted is there any other word okay, exploded will that do out of Arabia in the 8th century and was all over North Africa and the Levant and on into Persia and Northern Central India before you could say whatever mild expletive was common in those far off days There was a golden age of relative peace There was art and science In the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries it was unarguable that the centre of human civilisation was located in the great Muslim empire, and meanwhile, Europeans were illiterate crawlers in the mud ooh, some lovely mud over here, Derek , and eaters of beetroot and gruel, and had a life expectancy of 23 By the Middle Ages that early sense of Islam against the world had long given way to Islam as the world CRUSADER MOSQUITOSThe first crack in this golden period came with the Franji Wars, or as Westerners know them, the Crusades Before then, Muslims hadn t noticed the West at all why would you So here comes the first real shift of perspective In Western history the Crusades loom large They were a big deal They changed a lot of things For Islam not so much They were annoying, like a swarm of mosquitos You had to slap them down There was no sense to the thing but it was purely a local phenomenon and it didn t last long One hundred years, then normal service was resumed The big thing, where the world of Muslims came crashing down, was the Mongol invasion That s right, Genghiz Khan Then after him, Tamburlaine, who was worse Muslims had to figure out why God allowed pagans to kill them all But that s an easy one for religious types The Jews wrote a whole book about it, it s called The Bible Part One, or as the Christians call it, Jesus the Prequel And God being just, the Christians got their turn with the Black Death Why are you doing this to us Mwaaah ha haah In each case the answer is the same God smote you all because you re doing it wrong. It was a wake up call Obviously not for the ones smited, they won t be waking up ever again, but you remnant that s left, you better get back to where you once belonged, pronto.SORRY FRANCISCO, YOU RE REDUNDANT Tamim does a great job summarising the effects of the Reformation in Europe For him, this was the thing which kickstarted the whole European project, which he contrasts with the Islamic project You d had the Renaissance, but you needed a few other concepts to add to the mix before you could get lift off, and one of the main components was the idea of the secular This does not exist in Islam Everything is God s, everything is to be explained by Islamic thought Luther s revolutionary act was to proclaim that the Christian can deal directly with God That there is no need for this complex machinery of priestly intercession That the priests are actually obfuscatory interlopers when they re not out and out crooks That they should go In Islam, there wasn t the superstructure of a church hierarchy, and the idea was always that you didn t need a priest to speak to God So Tamim says the Muslims didn t need a Reformation and never got one Therefore they never got the modernisation that came out of a reformation Hmmm.So Luther s thought revolution had this extra European twist legitimising the authority of individuals to think what they wanted about God implicitly legitimised their authority to think what they wanted about anything. This did not mean contradicting the faith it just meant that faith was one thing and explaining nature was another they were two separate fields of enquiry and never did the twain have to meet.Tamim tells us that the great revival of Western science which followed had often been anticipated by Muslim scientists Blood circulation, the spectrum, the experimental method, all had been discovered by Muslims in previous centuries But nothing had come of any of them The steam engine provides a case in point What could be useful What could be world changing Yet the steam engine was invented in the Muslim world over three centuries before it popped up in the West, and in the Muslim world it didn t change much of anything.Why ever not Possibly because Muslims made their great scientific discoveries just as their social order started crumblingAnd also, possibly because of something Ray Bradbury beautifully describes in a story called The Flying Machine a guy during the Ming dynasty in China invents a working flying machine, like the Wright brothers He hot foots it to see the Emperor, who observes a demonstration, and is impressed He immediately orders the man s execution JUST SIGN HERE, HERE AND HERE THANK YOU After the rise of Islam and a couple of golden centuries comes the slow not so graceful fall The Muslim world began to be sliced and diced by the West, sometimes so subtly the empire or khanate or whatever didn t realise what was going on until they were trussed up like a Turkey The Western businessmen, government agents and flying carpetbaggers, along with a few armies here and there, got the Muslims signed up on the dotted line every which way India, Indonesia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, everywhere became either a direct or indirect colony of the West Muslims could not, finally, refuse the glittering baubles, the manufactured items They came to the conclusion some of them, that is that they had to modernise.The whole of Muslim history for the last three hundred years can be seen as a complex struggle between the Muslims who think you can modernise without losing your soul, without selling out Islam, without becoming defiled, and those who think this is just a pipe dream You can see which side of the fence Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban and Khomeini were on You can also see how hard it is to figure what the Arab Spring has produced modernisers or traditionalists What happens if you promote democracy in countries which then elect governments who hate you AMERICA WHAT WENT WRONG Tamim gives an excellent account of how the USA turned from being heroic in Muslim eyes yes Can you imagine that it was much admired at the time of the League of Nations, when the USA was coming on strong as an anti colonialist supporter of liberation for all nations to the embodiment of evil for most Muslims I think that s a fair summary There were two big ones which turned the whole thing one, I had barely heard of this was the 1953 CIA coup in Iran which deposed the democratic modernist who wanted to nationalise the oil industry and installed a King who would give all the oil revenues away to American companies The second big one was Israel, especially the 1967 war After that the road to 9 11 was set.I could discuss many fascinating points and turn this review into a Grayesque marathon it s long enough already, I hear you cry but I ll stop now.Except to say grab a copy, it s brilliant


  2. says:

    Being neither Muslim nor Western, but nevertheless a citizen of what CNN and other Western media regularly dub the world s largest Muslim nation , I often feel baffled by the so called clash of civilizations between these two entities And lately, not just baffled, but also profoundly disturbed by the scale and frequency of sectarian violence in my country, the majority of which allegedly perpetrated by those the author of this book calls jihadists The overwhelming majority of Indonesians are no doubt moderate and tolerant, but there is no denying the fact that acts of violent extremism have increased exponentially and that at times, the perpetrators seem to have acted with impunity Is this the inevitable result of a Huntingtonian clash of civilizations Tamim Ansary, an Afghan American secular Muslim , thinks that it is something else altogether The conflict wracking the modern world is not, I think, best understood as a clash of civilizations , if that proposition means we re different so we must fight until there s only one of us It s better understood as the friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting The key word here is mismatched the West and the Muslim world have been developing or less separately for centuries and have been talking at cross purposes for much of their relatively recent shared history Did the perpetrators of 9 11 really see themselves at striking a blow against freedom and democracy Is hatred of freedom the passion that drives militantly political Islamist extremist today If so, you won t find it in jihadist discourse, which typically focuses, not on freedom and its opposite, nor on democracy and its opposite, but on discipline versus decadence, moral purity versus moral corruption, terms that come out of centuries of Western dominance in Islamic societies and the corresponding fragmentation of communities and families there, the erosion of Islamic social values, the proliferation of liquor, the replacement of religion with entertainment, and the secularization of the rich elite along with the ever hardening gap between rich and poor.One side charges, You are decadent The other side retorts, We are free These are not opposing contentions they re nonsequiturs Ansary is no apologist and is not interested in sweeping away potentially divisive issues under the rug of political correctness On the other side, I often hear liberal Muslims in the United States say that jihad just means trying to be a good person, suggesting that only anti Muslim bigots think the term has something to do with violence But they ignore what jihad has meant to Muslims in the course of history dating back to the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad himself Anyone who claims that jihad has nothing to do with violence must account for the warfare that the earliest Muslims called jihad Like the holy books of other so called Abrahamic religions, the Koran contains verses that might be interpreted as advocating violent acts.Likewise, he doesn t shy away from the darker side of Islamic history Islam, though originally conceived as an admirably epic, devotional social project , was also a political entity And very soon after Muhammad s death, it became an empire An empire of epic proportions that stretched over continents and ruled millions of non Muslims Long before Westerners colonized the Muslim world, Islamic empires ruled over large swathes of Christendom And like other empires, including those that adhered to Christianity or other religions, it was not immune of the usual bloody internecine fighting some involving Muhammad s close relatives and companions and oppression of people who became their subjects.Ansary tells the rest of Islamic history in a light, conversational style that is eminently readable, even if he necessarily simplifies certain aspects of it perfectly understandable, considering that he has to cover 1,300 years of history in a relatively slim book We learn of the different interpretations of Islam, ranging from the comparatively liberal, tolerant Sufism to the literal, rigid Salafism and Wahabism We also learn of the theological and racial factors that gave birth to Shiism and other schisms in Islam We are reminded of how Islamic scholars saved the works of Greek philosophers, long forgotten in the West, and of the reasons why despite of that, science and technology failed to develop during the Abbasid Caliphate s golden age And of how the Crusades, a pivotal event in European history, was barely a blip in the Muslim narrative the most traumatic event in Islam s history is instead the 13th century Mongol invasion, which had an impact akin to the Black Death in Europe.The most interesting, and pertinent part of the narrative for me is the chapters that cover the interaction between the West and the Islamic world in the last two centuries, as the roots of the current conflict could be traced to the events that happened in those crucial eras The gist of it is that Western colonialism and continuing meddling in Muslim countries, aided by their corrupt and or westernized elites, fuels extremist rage Helping the Iraqis was a way to weaken Iran and possibly keep the Soviets at bay Here again as a catastrophic intertwining of the Muslim and Western narrative still about secular modernism versus back to source Islamism, the other still about superpower rivalry and control of oil, though couched in rhetoric about democracy and totalitarianism And also In the Muslim world, the difference was not just economic but cultural and therefore the gulf between the worlds fed alienation and produced a anti colonialist flavor of resentment, but against the nation s own elite This resentment led to occasional civil unrest Since these culturally divided countries had no democratic institutions to mediate disputes, governments casually resorted to force to suppress disorder A plausible explanation for conflicts in Muslim countries in the Middle East, but probably not entirely adequate to explain sectarian violence in other Muslim countries which are democratic, and where Western interference is minimal, like Indonesia I wish Ansary had spent some pages discussing such countries, but perhaps they are considered too peripheral in comparison to the Middle East to worth analyzing Indonesia is not a Muslim country, in the sense that it is not based on Islam or any other religion Indonesia s state ideology, Pancasila, and its constitution guarantee the freedom of religion for all of its citizens.


  3. says:

    History books are frequently dry and factual, even when not written as textbooks, and when they re not, they tend to reveal the author s biases or axes to grind Tamim Ansary, however, sets out to tell the history of Islam through Islamic eyes, not as an apologetic for Islam that ignores its less edifying historical episodes and its troubled present, nor as a Westerner viewing Islam as, at best, an exotically misunderstood Oriental tradition, and at worst, the religion of terrorists and oppressed women in burkas.Tamim Ansary, an Afghan American, suggests that Islam and the West have for much of history existed in two parallel worlds, only rarely intersecting until the violent last few decades The Dar al Islam, or the entire region that Ansary calls the Middle World, between the European dominated West and the Chinese dominated East, grew, expanded, experienced theological and political revolutions, technological and scientific and literary evolution, and several foreign invasions much significant than those Crusades that everyone today thinks were the most significant East West interaction before the modern day.The vast majority of Muslims, even during the height of the Crusades, simply didn t notice the West, which for most of Islam s early history, was an impoverished backwater land of savage, squabbling kingdoms while the Middle East and North Africa was full of wealth and education and glorious cosmopolitan cities The Crusaders seized some cities and killed a bunch of people and certainly left some profound historical legacies, but didn t materially affected the Islamic world as much as we think they did.The Mongols, on the other hand they effed the Muslim world up.I already knew a lot of Middle Eastern history from my time as an Arabic linguist for the Army They made us learn a bit of history and cultural along with the language at DLI But it was recited to us by Arabic instructors of varying levels of pedagogical ability and enthusiasm, and came from very dry textbooks So I vaguely remembered the Ummayads, the Abbasids, the Ottomans, the various Caliphates and Sultanates and Emirates that rose and fell from immediately after Mohammad s death until the 20th century when Muslim nation states began to congeal into or less their present forms But Destiny Disrupted tells the entire sweeping epic with a historian s accuracy but a storyteller s verve You will actually get caught up in the rise and fall of dynasties and the shifting epicenters of Islamic scholarship and Arab African and Persian power, the changes in Islam as it goes from populist movement to institutional social paradigm to bureaucratic theocracy Islam is a complicated religion, like Christianity, with its sects and schisms and interactions with the power of the state Yes, to Muslims, religion has never been a separate entity from the state, as it came to be in the West, but still, Islam served the interests of rulers, got coopted by those in power, brought down those in power, caused fragmentation and changes in government according to different factions understanding of how a proper Islamic state should be run, and so conflicts between clergy and kings did play out in their own way in the Middle East too.If you want to have than a superficial understanding of how Sunnis and Shias split off from each other, and why India has been the location of so much Hindu Muslim conflict, and of course, how the United States went from a modern nation Muslims admired and respected in the early 20th century to the Great Satan it is today yes, a big part of the reason is Israel, but that s not the whole story, and most of the rest of the reason is oil, but that s still not the whole story , then you will get it here, but as the title indicates, this is a history of the world through Muslim eyes, and so the West really only comes into the picture towards the end There is a huge amount of history that took place between Europe and China that most Westerners know little or nothing about, and this book will not only tell you about it, but make it interesting.The author s style is a great asset to this narrative Ansary is not above tossing in wry commentary now and then, neither sparing Westerners nor Muslims from apt observations about historical hypocrisy and inconvenient truths Ansary does not take a religious position he grew up as a Muslim in Afghanistan, but it s not even clear from his website whether he is a practicing Muslim today So he doesn t try to sell Islam and specifically calls out the historical revisionism of those liberal Muslims who today insist that jihad has never properly meant violent struggle against infidels Ansary points out that yes it has, many times in history , but neither will he satisfy those of an anti Islam bent who insist that Islam is fundamentally and inherently a religion of violence and oppression and intolerance of unbelievers Those who say that Muslims are incapable of peaceful, heterogeneous coexistence in societies that value reason and democratic principles ignore the fact that such Muslim societies existed for centuries.If you are a history buff and are interested in this little served area of history, then I think you could hardly do better than Destiny Disrupted You will be truly educated about fourteen centuries of history spanning a huge chunk of the world It s a really good read.If you re looking for answers addressing contemporary issues how Israel came to be and why it s an unending canker sore to Muslims worldwide, the origins of Wahabbism Osama Bin Laden s brand of Islamic fundamentalism , the roots of the Taliban, how the West came to become the Great Satan and what Iran s problem is and what Afghanistan s problem is, and what Syria s problem is, and what Iraq s problem is, and what Egypt s problem is then you ll find those here, mostly in the last few chapters, but this is not primarily a book dissecting modern Islam Western issues It s about the whole history of the world that happened before the West was important.Excellent book, highly recommended, an unreserved 5 stars.


  4. says:

    This book is an excellent exploration of not just Islamic history dates, names, events, etc , but also provides a fascinating insight into cultural forces of Islam Speaking as someone with a pretty good knowledge base I can honestly say I learned a great deal from this book beyond never accepting a dinner invitation from the Abbasids and viewed history in a different light Ansary rightly points out that Islamic history, one where Islamic cultures were much advanced that European societies, are relegated to very small slices of world history text books After reading this, it is difficult to understand why when Islamic cultures are major players in world history.The most important aspect of Islam the author who is himself a Muslim stresses is that Islam is not about individual salvation but about the community Many Muslims throughout history and today have harkened back to the very first community of Muslims, when Mohammad still lived among them, as an ideal to strive for In that society the leaders were humble and lived among the people Mohammad was on hand to settle disputes in a just and fair manner and there was much harmony among the Muslim community From a Christian or Western perspective, it would be as though Jesus was never killed and lived among his followers, continuing to provide divine wisdom and guidance While that may not have been how things actually played out, Ansary notes that the story of how it happened has influenced Islamic culture ever since.Ansary then does a diligent job highlighting the direction the Muslim community which at this point was still confined to the Arabian Peninsula and among Arab tribes went after Mohammad passed The rightly Guided Caliphs, as they are known, led their community in to a vast expansion, with each victory lending further credence to God being on their side This link between victory and divine approval was a keystone to the community for much of its early existence The first Islamic Empire spread from Central Asia to Iberia, making it one of the largest in history.What I found fascinating was how the community absorbed and was changed by converts What was once a close community composed of Arab tribesmen became a multiethnic Empire At different periods various ethnic groups were the dominant force in the Muslims world Initially it was Arabs but at various times it was Persians or Turks or some other group The mixing and merging of different peoples also lead to a diverse expression of Muslim piety and power However, whichever group was in power, still saw their victories heavily outweigh their setbacks.That is until the greatest calamity the Muslim world had seen to date fell upon them No, not the crusaders from Europe They were at worst a nuisance, really only conquering four major cities and not penetrating into the Muslim heartland They had struck during a time of chaos within the Islamic world where the great Empires of the past had devolved into competing cities in the Eastern Mediterranean world At times battles would be fought between armies that saw Muslims and Crusaders on both sides of the lines The Crusaders were just another piece on the board that various Muslim rulers had to take into account.The calamity which, arguably, still resounds to this day, were the Mongols They swept through central Asia which had its share of advanced Islamic civilizations destroying literally everything in their bath They sacked and I mean SACKED Baghdad so hard it has yet to recover after hundreds of years, and general owned just about everyone they came across While some parts of the Mongol population were eventually converted to Islam, the swiftness and severity of their devastation shook the very core of the Muslim world Why had God forsaken them Were they no longer in his favor What did they do wrong While some within the community argued that in the end the conversion and defeat of the Mongols meant God still favored them, many turned to new ways to understand Islam and Allah New schools of thought and law were developed in response to the Mongols that has resonance to this day.For me, the most interesting part of the book dealt with the response the Muslim world had to the rise of the West The dynamism of the west driven by the emphasis on individual achievement and powered by the industrial revolution made inroads into the Muslim world by this time mostly dominated by the Ottoman Empire and Iran Slowly, piece by piece, these empires were places further and further under the thumb of European powers Be it through Western technical advisers who helped reform the government and military, or the monied interest that extended loans to find these reforms, or business interests that could buy off entire portions of a country s economy the West slowly became dominant over the Muslim world.This wasn t some grand conspiracy among the various Western powers, even if the ends were the same They were concerned about other powers gaining an advantage in The Great Game and had to make the appropriate count moves This resulted in unsettled populations, resentment between the ruling and upper classes who benefited somewhat by these changes and the lower classes who were displaced or exploited Ansary does an excellent job parsing the various currents and forces that flowed through the Muslim world, explaining how they reacted to the change of events and why It was extremely fascinating to see the various responses to modernism in the Islamic world and how those responses influence the world today.Simply put this book is an essential part of any attempt to understand the modern world and especially the modern Muslim world It is extremely well written, being accessible to novices and informative to the well read It provides a unique set of fascinating insights in Islamic history and culture that I have found somewhat lacking from Western sources.


  5. says:

    I want to recommend the unabridged audio version, as read by the author The man s a giften historian in that he s able to tell an informed and accessible story both in writing and by voice This book fits neatly as a grand narrative of Islam and helps to set contemporary events and worldviews into a historical context I d call it scholarly light, emphasizing the story over analytical details, and helps stitch focused books into a larger picture most westerners are unfamiliar with.


  6. says:

    First, a disclaimer I have a Master s degree in Middle Eastern studies, and come to this subject weighted down by the suitcases of multiple theories and interpretations that advanced degrees tend to confer However I have long wanted to find a book that I could recommend to people by which I mean friends, family and non specialized colleagues as the book for those wishing to understand the Middle East, by which I and they usually mean to understand the historical context of modern events located within or connected to the Muslim world Destiny Disrupted is now the book that I will recommend, but with an important caveat At the start of the book, Ansary tells the reader that we should think of this tale very much as a story, as if we met him in a cafe and this is the tale that he, as an astute and knowledgeable historian, might tell us over tea Well, over two days worth of tea, anyway, since the book is long I think this disclaimer on his part is both wise and accurate With it, he acknowledges that some oversimplification will occur He acknowledges that swaths of his tale are or might be subjective I was extremely impressed with his objectivity until almost the very end, when I, as something of a specialist myself, felt that the explanations and retelling of 20th century political machinations in the Muslim world were oversimplified and slanted pro West For the most part, Ansary does an admirable job of painting realistic pictures of individuals and events He is able to succinctly explain the pros and cons of an event or a political figure for example, a quick summary of why some people may have thought X while others thought Y, or that President X was celebrated for Y but hated by a particular ethnic minority for Z You get the idea However I found that this kind of just assessment was dimmed or even absent when describing the secular modernist leaders of Muslim countries in the twentieth century, like Bhutto This is unfortunate, since a nuanced understanding of these leaders and the revolutions or coups that toppled them is, I would argue, important to a useful understanding of the current geopolitical landscape than an emperor or imam of centuries past Even so, I will certainly be recommending this book to family, friends and colleagues alike, with my own caveat that the interpretations of the last 70 years of history pertaining to Islam and the West leaves something to be desired, and that Ansary reaches conclusions that don t sit entirely comfortably with me, although they almost do All in all, an impressive and much needed addition to the field.


  7. says:

    The conflict wracking the modern world is not, I think, best understood as a clash of civilizations It s better understood as the friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting Tamim Ansary in Destiny Disrupted.History has long been my favorite subject I loved it in primary school, all the way through choosing to dig in with graduate studies History of just about any time, any region, any macro or micro subject But let s be honest sometimes the way that history is written is not that fun to read.Tamim Ansary does a great service writing very readable history in this 2009 book, Destiny Disputed A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes.The thing I liked most about this book was Ansary s contextual storytelling He moves through the history of Islam from the life of the the Prophet to post 2001 in a roughly chronological way, showing the moving pieces interconnectedness of the events in the Middle World I much prefer this phrase to middle east , which has always struck me as imperialist and the surrounding regions.Completely educational and well written, with some casual witty asides that really add to the history My only wish is that there was an update a lot has happened globally and in this region since 2009.Highly recommended readable history


  8. says:

    Things happen, seemingly for a reason But often I feel in the dark about these reasons Often I feel like I m only getting one tiny slice of the truth, the one that s most convenient and easily accessible to me, given my upbringing, my background, my experiences Turning to the news won t help The news only focuses on surface events, the things that are happening are happening it proclaims in bold headlines But how do I begin to understand the forces behind them What we need is the news with context News for dummies, maybe Except we re all dummmies How many of us understand the subtle differences between ISIS and Al Queda Or even Sunni vs Shia, beyond the very basics Instead we turn that part of our brain off and think terrorist or evil But context is everything, and without it, we see the world only from our own very limited retro active perspective How can we continue to broaden that context, continue to see things from a larger and larger world view so that we understand why things happen instead of just that they happen History, at least when you re talking about traditionally taught mainstream history i.e history for the rest of us, rather than history in academia , is a specific narrative that gets stronger and homogenous with each generation simply by the power of repetition Every story has multiple sides to it, any critical thinker knows this and yet when we re talking about our own story, the story of humanity, why do we only care for one side of it And because we re further from the original events, we just parrot that main narrative that s passed down to us, the one the victors wrote It s disturbing to me that, as Tamim Ansary mentions in this book, most history textbooks have only one chapter dedicated to Islam, out of maybe 30 or 40 chapters Nevermind the fact that it is one of the most relevant threads of current events And even if that were not the case, it is the basis for one of the largest, most powerful and culturally rich empires in history, rivaling the Roman Empire And even if that were not the case, it is the second largest religion, around 1.6 billion people we are ready to not think about And even if that were not the case, it is than a religion, it is uniquely also a community project and a political philosophy.And yet I understand that impulse not to engage It s uncomfortable It s difficult It s messy and unresolvable Good resources are hard to find and often conflicting It s so much easier to look upon these parallel accounts as side stories, almost inconsequential, subsumed in our own larger story No, it s not that we deny these narratives entirely, but we look upon them as small parts of our story, rather than something completely foreign That all past events have progressively lead step by step to our own existence, as if we the storytellers are the ultimate goal and purpose of human civilization.If you want to break out of that pattern, then this book is at least one such parallel story that you could investigate Ansary focuses on the story arc rather than mundane details He is very good at conveying the general sweep of many parallel currents I learned quite a lot from this book, including etymologies of several words and phrases that apparently have their origins in Islamic history The first few chapters about Muhammad and the four caliphates are the most straight forward, and it s nice to be able to know not only their names but also have a sense of each one s personality, unique governing style, and personal philosophy And that s very characteristic of this book Ansary takes time to familiarize you with the backgrounds, personalities and tendencies of the people he writes about, instead of just what they did and when Obviously, as there are and schisms and offshoots, it s a little harder to do that with everyone who shows up in this grand story But he does a good enough job most of the time that I was highly engaged and flipping the pages as if I were reading a good mystery.The conflict wracking the modern world is not, I think, best understood as a clash of civilizations , if that proposition means we re different so we must fight until there s only one of us It s better understood as the friction generated by two mismatched world histories intersecting.History is a narrative, and narratives form our identities, drive our actions For this reason, Ansary s conclusions are quite significant He s basically saying that the Western narrative and the Islamic narrative are categorically different It s not simply that we ve left out some events It s that the understanding of what lead to this moment is driven by two complete different understandings of the world Thus, when we look at the same current event, we see the causes for this event to be two totally different things It s like we re a bitter couple, each not hearing the other person in an argument, but only becoming convinced by our own voices Here are two enormous worlds side by side what s remarkable is how little notice they have taken of each other If the Western and Islamic worlds were two individual human beings, we might see symptoms of repression here We might ask, What happened between these two Were they lovers once Is there some history of abuse


  9. says:

    This is an absolutely fantastic book an engaging, readable, at times even exciting primer on the history of the Muslim world, and world history as Muslims understand it The author, a former textbook developer, clearly knows his stuff, but his genius is in the ability to draw many historical elements together to turn world history into a cohesive narrative that makes sense and that you might actually want to read The writing style is engaging, though in no way dumbed down and yet while not reading, I would occasionally find myself wondering what would happen next There are elements of biography, when the book zooms in on the lives of important individuals, but it covers many centuries of history from a brief chapter about what is today the Middle East before the birth of Islam, up through 9 11 in a way that feels complete and connected and provides the context for readers without much prior knowledge of Muslim history to actually make sense of it Wars and governments, social and religious history, culture and philosophy it s all discussed.And aspects of Muslim and Middle Eastern history that I m embarrassed to admit had never made a lot of sense to me finally did it wasn t until I read this book that I understood the difference between Sunni and Shi a, for instance In the western world I think we tend to be exposed to this material primarily through the news, where it s presented as a quick summary without context that s supposed to explain current events, but that doesn t quite because we don t know the background, the history, the emotional context.So I would recommend this book to anyone, even if you don t typically read history I get my books at the library, but I m going to have to buy a copy of this one to re read or refer back to as needed It really is that good.


  10. says:

    World history from the Islamic point of view, yes, but written very much with the Western reader in mind, which is fair enough, presumably Middle Worlders don t need this kind of broadstroke overview Ansary uses analogies with concepts that will be familiar to his audience in order to make things clearer and easily digestible for example when describing the gap left by the death of Mohammed, he points out that when a saint dies, you can t just appoint a new one in his place, and on the other hand when a king dies, people don t say Wouldn t it be good to have a king again some day Mostly these analogies were extremely helpful, but I wasn t too sure about comparing the beginnings of the Muslim Brotherhood with the Boy Scouts But what would I know Sometimes his jokey facetious remarks irritated me a little, but, heck, I finished it, so they can t have been too distracting It was published in 2009, so long before the Arab Spring of this year, but to Ansary s credit, he does emphasise the huge and growing gap between the privileged technocrats and the indigent rural inhabitants of Middle World countries, and how isolated the latter group are from the political process Quite acute of him, I think.


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Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyescharacters Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, audiobook Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, files book Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, today Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes b26ca We In The West Share A Common Narrative Of World History But Our Story Largely Omits A Whole Civilization Whose Citizens Shared An Entirely Different Narrative For A Thousand YearsIn Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary Tells The Rich Story Of World History As The Islamic World Saw It, From The Time Of Mohammed To The Fall Of The Ottoman Empire And Beyond He Clarifies Why Our Civilizations Grew Up Oblivious To Each Other, What Happened When They Intersected, And How The Islamic World Was Affected By Its Slow Recognition That Europe A Place It Long Perceived As Primitive And Disorganized Had Somehow Hijacked Destiny


About the Author: Tamim Ansary

Mir Tamim Ansary is an Afghan American author and public speaker Ansary gained prominence in 2001 after he penned a widely circulated e mail that denounced the Taliban but warned of the dangers of a military intervention by the United States The e mail was a response to a call to bomb Afghanistan into the Stone Age His book West of Kabul, East of New York published shortly after the September