Jews figure prominently in the history of the modern European encounter with Islam. The similarities between Hebrew and Arabic, the parallels between two faiths grounded in law, and the relative tolerance of Muslim rule toward Jews--all these are said to have permitted many Jews to approach Islam with an understanding and sympathy once uncommon in Europe. Was there a "Jewish discovery of Islam," distinct from Europe's discovery? Is there some unifying characteristic to the approach of these Jewish "discoverers"? In this original volume, contributors assess the approaches to Islam of some of the most famous European Jewish travelers, writers, and scholars.
Is Islamism driven by religious fervor, social protest or national xenophobia? Is the rise of Islamism a threat to stability, tolerance, and order, or is it the first step toward reform, participation, and democratization? These and other questions are debated by nine authors - leading protagonists in the Islamism debate - from the United States, Britain, France, and Israel.
An impressive array of scholars, biographers, and critics from the disciplines of anthropology, history, political science, and psychology explore the diversity of approaches both to writing biography and to reading self-narratives.