BOOK REVIEW
Muslim World Almanac 2008

Published by: Research and Documentation Society
Plot 7/2 Sector No. 17
Korangi Industrial Area
Karachi , Pakistan
+92-21-5060512,5062404
info@muslimworldalmanac.com
www.muslimworldalmanac.com

 

Every epoch of human existence has been defined and catalogued by those who held sway over the mighty pen. The tracts of history and knowledge have been written into existence as desired at every juncture of the space time continuum, hence giving life to an era and people.

Thus it is that great legacies were born, leaders created, nations built and empires conquered.

The Islamic World for all its glorious yesterdays exists only in our imaginations as a literary reality today. We are indebted to the scholars of the past for recording their present and preserving their interpretations for us to decipher and contrast to our own.

Therefore, in order for us to continue that heritage and history we too must contribute to that process and create our own historical analysis and ideas of the world.

The current Islamic perspective although recognized as a latent force has yet to be propagated onto the global arena as a coherent intellectual movement.

The modern day Islamic world is a collection of multifarious conglomerate hegemonies that are camouflaged as disparate nations. They provide a disjointed analysis of the Muslim world based more on culture and ethnicities than the unified ideology of Islam.

To re-address this issue and provide the stimulus required to create a ubiquitous overview ‘The Research and Documentation Society’ has sought to provide a tool of reference that may eventually become the authority on the Islamic world. The launch of ‘Muslim World Almanac 2008’ is not so much the release of an annual collage of facts but the initiation of a global Islamic movement that is aimed at researching, cataloguing and bringing to prominence the homogeneous Muslim world in all its glory.

The word ‘Almanac’ has long been the preserve of Western intellectuals but the word itself originates from Arabic and means a ‘calendar’ or ‘a collection of events within that calendar’.

Thus it is most appropriate that in producing a volume of such substance the appropriate terms are utilized to describe its purpose. The publishers describe their undertaking as ‘being the first and only work of its kind produced at such a scale … it is the world seen from a Muslim perspective.’

One has to admit that at being asked to review this work I was rather skeptical and disinterested in the project. I have spent a great deal of time and effort in reading many of these so-called ‘almanacs’ and encyclopedias on the Islamic world. Usually they are poorly produced and the content is often repetitive, laborious and in some cases shambolic. However, on reviewing the Muslim World Almanac 2008 I was pleasantly surprised by the usage of language, the diversity of topics, and the in-depth analysis on political, social and religious matters. The erudite contributing writers and editors have excelled in their contributions.

Every Muslim nation is individually examined, every aspect of the Islamic faith is discussed, and contemporary issues and political discourses are presented for readers to mule over. There is information about Islamic organizational bodies and even an obituaries section for honoring Muslim leaders all across the world.

Whilst reading or even flickering through the thousand or so pages of this reference tool one becomes absorbed at the history, diversity and power of the Islamic world. One cannot help but feel proud of their heritage and faith. In a world in which, the Islamic world is painted as a umbrage of loosely aligned failed states run by despotic monarchs and dictators, this work allows one to rise above the illusionary boundaries and feel at one with the Muslim world.

If there is any point of contention it is more in the presentation than the content. The photos and print are generally dull in color and takes the shine off the illuminating content matter. However, there is an entire section aptly termed ‘Pictorial’ that is devoted to images of mosques, people and issues surrounding Muslims all across the world in colour. One could in theory write a substantial review that would seek to dissect the entire project. However, that would just prove to be a futile exercise aimed more at satisfying the ego than actually appraising a great piece of work. In order for you to benefit from the knowledge assembled into this single coherent volume, I would strongly urge all Muslims to procure a volume for themselves and their families. This is a great research tool that benefits not only Muslims but the global community also.

Islam and Muslims in the West are subjected to constant vilification as vociferous zealots operating under the guise of liberty and freedom have sought to promote a concerted policy of misinformation about Islam. They have harangued against the Muslim intelligencia and its ability to produce a viable channel for the dissemination of information and knowledge. I think that finally the Muslim world may be awaking to the challenge and fighting back by utilizing the best form of attack: reclaiming the pen to write its own history and authorative account of the world.

The ‘Muslim World Almanac 2008’ is truly a compendium of knowledge that has the potential to become the authoritative benchmark publication for digestion on the Islamic world. In the words of the publishers this is ‘the definitive reference of the Muslim world.’

I would also urge you to check out their website for more information:

www.muslimworldalmanac.com

 

- Imran H Khan Suddhazia

California , USA


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