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A Convergence of Civilizations

The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World

Youssef Courbage

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations are on the verge of destroying each other. The demographics of one group remain sluggish, while the population of the other has exploded, widening the cultural gap and all but guaranteeing the outbreak of war. Leaving aside the media's sound and fury on this subject, measured analysis shows another reality taking shape: rapprochement between these two civilizations, benefitting from a universal movement guiding humanity since the Enlightenment.

This book's historical and geographical sweep discredits the notion of a specific Islamic demography. The range of fertility among Muslim women, for example, is as varied as the religious behavior among Muslims in general. Whether agnostics, fundamentalist Salafis, or al-Qaeda activists, Muslims are a diverse group that proves the immutability and individuality of Islam. Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd consider different degrees of literacy, patriarchy, and defensive reactions among minority Muslim groups across the world, underscoring the massive secularization movement spreading throughout Arab and Muslim populations. In this regard, they argue, there is very little to distinguish the evolution of Islam from the history of Christianity, with the Muslim world now entering into a global modernity. Sensitive to demographic variables and their reflection of personal and social truths, Courbage and Todd effectively upend a dangerous meme, in which a fractured world is believed to be close to crisis because of an epidemic of closed cultures and men made different by religion.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 25, 2011 – It's an old trope that Muslim and Western societies are undergoing a "clash of civilizations"—one that this slim study neatly and persuasively rebuts. Courbage and Todd (After the Empire), director and researcher respectively at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies, posit that globally, rising literacy rates and dropping birth rates are followed by societal upheaval presaging modernization. The authors present copious data to argue that Muslim societies are on this track that the West has already completed (though "Westerners would like to forget that their demographic transitions were also strewn with many disturbances"). In this time of upheavals across the Muslim world, the authors' predictions appear nearly prophetic—save for their contention that Arab regimes are "likely to be stable for a relatively long time." This is the academic work that remains accessible even to the nonprofessional reader, the book's length allowing brisk reading, but the authors occasionally provide conclusions without quite enough underpinning. At certain points, deeper analysis would have strengthened their case.
A Convergence of Civilizations
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  • $39.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Middle East
  • Published: Apr 26, 2011
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 160 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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