FROM THE PREFACE
. . . On reaching the age of seventy, I was encouraged to commit to paper ideas and reflections I had shared with friends and colleagues over many years. I was reluctant to write this book, but having been invited by the Centre of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University to become a Visiting Fellow, I was able to test the ideas in lectures and seminars with students and faculty, and this has stimulated me to complete the task.
I grew up under the shadow of the atom bomb. I remember the terror this invoked. We were the first generation to live in the knowledge that we could destroy ourselves and all life on earth. This new power separates our generation from all previous generations. Since the creation of the atom bomb, many other ways of total destruction have been developed. We are now enveloped in an environmental crisis, and the warnings from the scientists of the dangers we face are becoming ever more strident. The impact upon nature of what we have now produced is so great that we are changing the climate. Global warming is an ever-present reminder that something is fundamentally wrong and we are heading towards catastrophe.
But the environmental crisis is not alone. The explosion in the population, financial crises, social and political instability, the growth of mental illness amongst the young, and a host of other problems beset us. Humanity seems to have lost its way. But we are all in this together, we all share this beautiful blue globe which we first saw when its picture was taken from the moon, and its destruction touches each and every one of us. . .
STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK
. . .The book begins with an introduction which sets out the arguments for a new narrative and outlines the criteria of balance that underlie the thesis. The main part of the book comprises seven chapters, six of which encompass themes which are applied firstly to Islam and then to the West. These themes are what we might call key components in the formation and historical development of the two worlds. The final chapter addresses the Age of Crises, and a brief conclusion summarises how Islam and the West are viewed from the perspective of balance. Also included is a glossary of terms and principles that have arisen out of the study, some of which have been newly coined.
My hope is that this comparative analysis makes sense of our Age of Crises, illuminates our understanding of the modern world, and enables us to see Islam and Islamic civilisation in a truer light. . .
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