Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence

In This Review

Are Muslims Distinctive?: A Look at the Evidence
By M. Steven Fish
Oxford University Press, USA, 2011
408 pp. $27.95

All too many scholars of Islam and Muslims, Fish insists, ignore empirical evidence. (He names names.) Having thus gotten the reader’s attention, Fish proceeds to show what these scholars have been missing, carefully compiling and discussing available quantifiable data on the attitudes and actions of Muslims on such subjects as religiosity, tolerance, corruption, crime, political violence, terrorism, social inequality, and democracy. He gives due attention to the potential for incomplete, inaccurate, or corrupt data. A devotee of statistical analysis, Fish has made a real, and largely successful, effort to make his findings accessible to the innumerate. His rich and diverse conclusions tear holes in the “otherness” arguments concerning Islam and Muslims, even while allowing that faith and its followers their distinctiveness.