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The Middle East's Tribal Affliction

Reader comment on item: The Middle East's Tribal Affliction
in response to reader comment: Re: P.C. Salzman's Book (Culture and Conflict in the Middle East)

Submitted by Jerrold Terdiman MD (United States), Jan 29, 2008 at 15:39

Dear Dr. Pipes,

Thank your for your reply to my comment and question about the Golden Age of Islam.

I have read a book by Irshad Manji "The Trouble With Islam"--A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. Perhaps you are familiar with it. I can't evaluate it from a scholar's perspective, but it was helpful to me in that it attempted to explain why Islam imploded into Salzman's "Tribal Affliction". She describes the abandonment of the tradition of "Ijtihad" (independent and creative thought) which she states began with the Shia-Sunni struggle over who was the legitimate heir of the mantle of the prophet Muhammad.

She states that this argument which had simmered for about 275 years "---flared up with a vengeance in 909 C.E. when a splinter group of Shias proclaimed a separate government within the Sunni-led Islamic empire---In the guise of protecting the worldwide Muslim nation from fitna (disunity),---Bagdad approved scholars formed a concensus to freeze debate within Islam---". See chapter 3 (When did we stop Thinking pages 58-59).

Jerry Terdiman


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