Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Opus 2015-378: Book Review: An Arab View of Arabs

I am slowly working my way through A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani.  Presently I am half way through the book and I plan on finishing it.  As I was checking to see if there was a Kindle edition, no such luck, I came across a review of the book by Daniel Pipes.  I almost wish I had see it before I started reading but then I might have assumed the reviewer was just an Islamophobe, whatever that is.  That doesn’t work too well since the review is from 1991, which is far before 911.  Instead I found that his observations were a good summary of what I was finding.

One of my observations was that Hourani wrote like and Arab, not an Englishman.  Since he is a professor at Oxford that should not be the case.  Pipes put it this way,
“In some ways, Mr. Hourani's work more closely resembles an Arab chronicle than a modern Western history.”
I kept finding that the nouns and verbs I was reading might be objectively correct but they were stripped of the adjectives and adverbs that would have made it a color picture instead of black and white.  Pipes puts it this way,
“A more severe problem concerns the book's overly-rosy picture. Unpleasantries such as racism, the status of women, and the Arab record in Africa are either touched on lightly or sugar-coated.”
He picks out the glossing over of slavery.  Hourani treats slavery the way a Southern plantation owner would have described slaves as happy, singing in the fields, dancing at night and not suited for more than slavery. 
“Absent is any mention of the terror of enslavement, the castration of eunuchs, the raping of slave women, the pitiless conditions on farms and mines, or the unending humiliation of the slave status”
To be fair I see the same lack of balance in his description of the Shia branch of Islam.  Hourani has a definite case of Apologist Tunnel Vision.

Pipes’ analysis comes together.
“Finally, Mr. Hourani pursues a fashionably leftist agenda, impugning capitalism and attacking Israel, but with so fine a subtlety it borders on the surreptitious. Repeated use of qualifiers ("may," "might," "perhaps," "possible") allows the author to distance himself from his own assertions.”
I plan to finish the book and continue taking notes.  I find it valuable to read a book about the Arabs from a Muslim point of view.  Since I have a sense of history I can filter out a lot of the nonsense and it gives me a better understanding of a large part of the world, its culture and its religion.  I would not recommend the book to the general reader unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

Hourani, Albert.  A History of the Arab Peoples.  Cambridge:  The Belknap Press of Harvard
    University Press, 1991.

homo unius libri


  1. A book that might interest you is called "Jesus, Jihad and Peace." Mine is a paperback, and I'm about 4/5 through it. No big surprises, it gives a lot of clarity to the situation with the muslims.

    1. I read another book by Youssef called "Blindsided" so I know he is a solid writer. I will try to keep my eyes open to that one.

      Grace and peace


Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.