A Convergence of Civilizations

The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World

Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd. Translated by George Holoch

Columbia University Press

A Convergence of Civilizations

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Pub Date: October 2014

ISBN: 9780231150033

152 Pages

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Pub Date: June 2011

ISBN: 9780231150026

152 Pages

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Pub Date: June 2011

ISBN: 9780231527460

152 Pages

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A Convergence of Civilizations

The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World

Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd. Translated by George Holoch

Columbia University Press

We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations are heading towards inevitable conflict. The demographics of the West remain sluggish, while the population of the Muslim world explodes, widening the cultural gap and all but guaranteeing the outbreak of war. Leaving aside the media's sound and fury on this issue, measured analysis shows another reality taking shape: rapprochement between these two civilizations, benefiting from a universal movement with roots in the Enlightenment.

The historical and geographical sweep of this book discredits the notion of a specific Islamic demography. The range of fertility among Muslim women, for example, is as varied as religious behavior among Muslims in general. Whether agnostics, fundamentalist Salafis, or al-Qaeda activists, Muslims are a diverse group that prove the variety and individuality of Islam. Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd consider different degrees of literacy, patriarchy, and defensive reactions among minority Muslim populations, underscoring the spread of massive secularization throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

In this regard, they argue, there is very little to distinguish the evolution of Islam from the history of Christianity, especially with Muslims now entering a global modernity. Sensitive to demographic variables and their reflection of personal and social truths, Courbage and Todd upend a dangerous meme: that we live in a fractured world close to crisis, struggling with an epidemic of closed cultures and minds made different by religion.
Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd totally recast the current debate about Islam and the West by focusing attention on some societal fundamentals and by debunking-once and for all-a number of myths. Nicolas Guilhot, editor of The Invention of International Relations Theory
This articulate and elegant demographic study convincingly documents a general trend toward modernity in the Muslim world, from Morocco to Indonesia. It successfully refutes many Western prejudices towards Islam, especially those based on misconceptions about its religion. It should be required reading for Western policy makers as well as for the general public. Léon-François Hoffmann, Princeton University
An insightful academic study of how the unrest and turbulence that characterizes large areas of the Muslim world are the results of demographic—rather than ideological—trends.... Important reading. Kirkus Reviews
I found this succinct book fascinating and recommend it. Patrick J. Ryan, Commonweal
Engaging for a general reader and rewarding for a specialist.... Highly recommended. Choice
Scholarly and engaging, this is an important work and one which deserves to be widely read. Sandra Berns, Law Society Journal
A positive, enlightening survey. The Midwest Book Review
A primer in the demography of Muslim societies, a treatise on the causes and consequences of fertility decline, and a rejoinder to the 'clash of civilizations' argument. John Casterline, Population and Development Review
Written with clarity and élan. Review of Middle East Studies
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Clash of Civilizations or Universal History
1. The Muslim Countries in the Movement of History
2. Crises of Transition
3. The Arab Family and the Transition Crisis
4. Other Muslim Women: East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa
5. At the Heart of Islam: The Arab World
6. The Non-Arab Greater Middle East
7. After Communism
8. Matrilocal Asia
9. Sub-Saharan Africa
Conclusion
Appendix
Notes

About the Author

Youssef Courbage is research director at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies. His research concerns Arab and Muslim countries, Asia and Eastern Europe, and interactions among demography and politics. He has studied economics, sociology, demography, and urban planning at Lebanese and French universities.

Emmanuel Todd is a researcher at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies and author of numerous books, including After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order, The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere, The Making of Modern France: Ideology, Politics, and Culture.