Part I: Introduction:.
1. The Middle East: Assumptions and Problems.
Part II: Preconditions for Egalitarian Individualism:.
2. Ways of Living.
3. Traditions of Authority and Freedom.
4. The Social Construction of Egalitarianism.
Part III: State and Society: Prophets, Caliphs, Sultans and Tyrants:.
5. The Prophetic Age.
6. Early Struggles for Authority.
7. Sacred and Secular Rulers.
8. Novelties and Continuities.
Part IV: Sacred Power: Reciters, Lawyers, Incarnations and Saints:.
9. The Essentials of Islam.
10. Recapturing the Sacred Past: The Power of Knowledge.
11. The Partisans of Ali.
12. Sufism in Practice.
13. The Contradictions of Saintly Authority.
Part V: Dilemmas of Subordination:.
14. Slaves, Eunuchs and Blacks.
15. The Ambiguities of Women.
16. Escapes from Distinction: Love and Friendship.
Part VI: Conclusion:.
17. Problems and Possibilities.
Chronology of Events.
"This is a brilliant book, combining historical knowledge and anthropological theory in an elegant and high-powered manner. This is the best introduction to the classical heartland of Islam available, and it will continue to attract both readers and attention." John Hall, McGill University
"[An] eloquent and clearly written book." The Muslim World Book Review
- Claims that much of the Western world shares fundamental values with Middle Eastern cultures and that these similarities have often fueled dispute, but can also provide a basis for dialogue and reconciliation.
- Examines the paradox faced by Moslems who value Islamic ideals of equality for all but who live under regimes which do not uphold such ideals.
- Provides a historical perspective that is vital to understanding the contemporary Middle East
- Reveals the violent consequences of centuries of misunderstanding between Muslim societies and the mainly Judeo-Christian West.
- Discusses how viewing the Middle East from a Western perspective dangerously limits understanding.