In This Review

The Future of Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations or Peaceful Coexistence?
The Future of Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations or Peaceful Coexistence?
By Shireen T. Hunter
Praeger, 1998, 195 pp

A useful entry to the debate that will not subside: is there an essential something about Islam that ever pulls Muslims toward fixed ideas on state organization and international relations? Or is the historical record of Islam and politics about as complex and ambiguous as that of other world religions? Hunter is in the latter camp, and she deftly boils down centuries of Muslim historical experience into five succinct chapters in making her case. Experts will dispute certain interpretations and even catch her out on a few points, but the overall argument is persuasive. Hunter manages throughout to bring in both Sunni and Shiite histories and traditions. She then presents Iran and Saudi Arabia as case studies in the role of Islam in shaping foreign policy.