Naipaul’s controversial account of his travels through the Islamic world was hailed by The New Republic as “the most notable work on contemporary. Among the Believers is V.S. Naipaul’s classic account of his journeys through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia; ‘the believers’ are the. The novelist VS Naipaul has caused an outcry by comparing the in the Muslim world for his books Among the Believers and Beyond Belief.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Haipaul saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Among the Believers by V. An Islamic Journey by V. An astonishing piece of travel writing and a timely and insightful analysis of Islamic fundamentalism”. Paperbackpages. Published September 19th by Picador first published To see what your friends thought of this book, believerrs sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Among eblievers Believersplease sign up. Is anyone interested in giving away their copy of this book? See 1 question about Among the Believers …. Lists with This Book.
In Search of Islam
The book is sheer intellection. Naipaul proceeds by letting Muslim converts — not those who were born to the faith — speak for themselves.
He questions them pointedly. The monologues are interspersed with sequences of analysis so brilliant, so penetrating, that they consistently astound, at times conveying insights that take the breath away. This is not classic travel narrative. This is not Dalrymple or Theroux, which is not to slight those writers. But there’s very little description or sense The book is sheer intellection. But there’s very little description or sense of landscape here, no colorful characters appear to relieve the considerable tension.
For Naipaul’s questions are not always easy ones to answer and his interlocutors tend to squirm at times. Rather, one has the sense of being Naipaul, that is to say, of following his rigorous thought processes from inception to conclusion. I have never read anything like it. To my mind, it’s an entirely new form. That it gives us Muslim points of view is important and necessary, especially today, akong it is the book’s structure and seamless execution, that is to my mind its true achievement.
View all 16 comments. From the first believeds it was apparent that Naipaul arrived with some mission that he took very seriously. Instead of following the wind like a free-spirit Naipaul had meetings, interviews, appointments.
Among the Believers by V. S. Naipaul
But what were his aims, what was his mission? We aren’t explicity told.
Having followed him around and listened in on his conversations with Muslims of Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, I can make a few pretty close guesses though I can’t help but think he left home with a conclusion and soug From the first page it was apparent that Naipaul arrived with some mission that he took very tje.
Having followed him around bleievers listened in on his conversations with Muslims of Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, I can make a few pretty close guesses though I can’t help but think he left home with a conclusion and sought only to justify it. Through informal and formal interviews he critically reviewed the belief systems of the people he met, from hired drivers to Ayatollah Khalkhali, an Iranian cleric known for his fondness of execution.
He asks his subjects difficult questions about faith and seems to expect logical, rational answers.
These are not, of course, forthcoming. If you are nalpaul of a revolution or building a system of governance then I would say so. This is the strength of Naipaul’s work, this revealing of the trembling foundations of Iran and Pakistan. Now, nearly 30 years after the book was published, one could argue that some of his predictions have come true.
Iran still has not come to terms with the existance of believeds western world and Pakistan still oscillates between instability and corruption.
Critics of Naipaul have picked up on his sweeping generalisations. Naipaul’s path is narrow indeed and from this he extrapolates whole nations and cultures.
People he talks to are challenged and the words they fight back with aren’t fuelled by a scolar’s education, as Naipaul’s are. And always, Naipaul gets the last word. But Naipaul is a brilliant writer and reading this was a pleasure. He is so present on the page, he’s honest and self-aware, he takes me with him even when, after a moment, I realise I disagree.
He lets go of his ego and puts some of his prejudice and misconceptions out there: I admire that, I think it is courageous.
It’s not perfect, it’s an amazing armchair journey and it’s still so relevant. The whole time I was reading this book I just kept thinking of this quote: Michener Naipaul is rude, he’s elitist, and he came to these countries wanting to find reasons to dislike the Islamic faith. He got exactly what he wanted. I did learn a bit of history though!
So that’s where the two stars come from View all 4 comments. Feb 24, Shane rated it really liked it. I read this book when I was living in the Middle East and it was a refreshing depiction from an outsider of my world at the time, where I had thought everything was okay. I was grateful for the new perspective he gave me, leading me to realize that I could never make the Middle East my permanenet residence.
Reading this book was one of the many gentle nudges I received during that time to try and find another place to call home. Mar 30, Ubaid Dhiyan rated it it was ok Shelves: I approached Naipaul’s account of his travels through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia with some trepidation, expecting a screed based on what I have read about him and of his writings.
My apprehension was unfounded. Naipaul is not as much vitriolic as repetitive and static in his reporting. His main thesis is that Islam, from its Shia incarnation in post Islamic-Revolution Iran to the animist incorporating version of Indonesia, offers only ideas; it fails to provide structure, institution I approached Naipaul’s account of his travels through Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia with some trepidation, expecting a screed based on what I have read about him and of his writings.
His main thesis is that Islam, from its Shia incarnation in post Islamic-Revolution Iran to the animist incorporating version of Indonesia, offers only ideas; it fails to provide structure, institutions or a comprehensive political and legal system that is consistent and coherent for this century. This, in spite of the claims by those he meets and talks to, that Islam is a complete social system that has failed only because of men and not for any fundamental flaw in and of itself.
This point is well made and I generally agree with the thesis, well expressed in the following excerpt – “. Other people in spiritually barren lands will continue to produce the equipment the doctor is proud of possessing and the medical journals he is proud of reading.
The expectation – of others continuing to create, of the alien, necessary civilization going on – is implicit in the act of renunciation, and is its great flaw. Wasn’t that an essential part of the history of civilization, after all: It undermines, it threatens.
But at the same time it is needed for its machines, goods, medicines, warplanes, the remittances from the emigrants, the hospitals that might have a cure for calcium deficiency, the universities that will provide master’s degrees in mass media. All the rejection of the West is contained within the assumption that there will always exist out there a living, creative civilization, oddly neutral, open to all to appeal to.
Rejection, therefore, is not absolute rejection. It is also, for the community as a whole, a way of ceasing to strive intellectually. It is to be parasitic: My trouble with the book is its absolute lack of sympathy. Naipaul seems to have formed a thesis, and then gone about his travels having conversations and encounters to prove himself right. He doesn’t seem to step out of this framework at all, offers nothing besides this single, inflexible thesis.
There are no people in this book, simply caricatures illustrating the point. Perhaps the closest Mr. Naipaul comes to expressing warmth for someone is when he narrates his encounter with the Indonesian poet Sitor Situmorang, and that’s a part of the book that seems independent from the rest of the work.
May 23, Raghu rated it it was amazing. One of Naipaul’s best and most prescient books.
VS Naipaul launches attack on Islam
Naipaul travels through islamic Asia – Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia injust after the Iranian islamic revolution. The book contains his observations on Islam after meeting a lot of people in all these countries.
The book is sympathetic in tone, contrary to the usual accusation of Naipaul as a sympathiser of Hindu nationalism.
Naipaul prophetically concludes many of the things which are fashionable today about islamic fundamentalism One of Naipaul’s best and most prescient books. He investigates the ambivalence of moslems in western societies that they want its material wealth, scientific yhe care, technological advances and so on but at the same time being threatened by the advance of science and liberal democracy which are constant challenges to a pure, familiar and comforting ‘islamic’ way of life.
One must remember that the book was written injust after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in Iran. While most commentators had a positive image of the future of Iran after the Shah’s naipzul, Naipaul had practically anticipated the extremism into which it will slip in the coming years.
Excellent book and a must for all those interested in the subject of today’s confrontation believerd the West and Islam. Feb 08, S. Ach rated it liked it Shelves: I have always believed that, if one wants to learn, one should travel.