"The Crisis of Islamic Civilization" by Ali A. Allawi (2009)
"No Muslim state has proclaimed that its adherence to Islamic norms of conduct and behavior has been the essential factor in its success in worldly matters. Thus, where Muslim countries have excelled (in relative terms), say in Malaysia, the cause is partly attributed to 'Asian', rather than to Islamic, values. Similarly, the success of Turkey in transforming its economy is attributed to the modernization of its corporate culture along modern capitalist lines rather than to a particularly Islamic quality of its economy or society. Dubai, the glittering emirate which sees itself as the embodiment of the wired and globalized city, compares itself, if it ever does so any more, to Singapore and Hong Kong, and not to some Islamic paradigm of success"
Ali A. Allawi grew up in Iraq, and eventually served in the interim government there. He holds degrees in Civil Engineering and Business Administration. Prior to The Crisis of Islamic Civilization he wrote another book, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace.
The Crisis of Islamic Civilization was also voted one of the best books of 2009, though some of the praise heaped upon it makes me wonder if all of the critics doing the praising really read it. Some of their "blurbs" seem to refer more to the author's previous offering.
...not that I'm blaming them. The Crisis of Islamic Civilization is an incredibly dense book, and if they couldn't make it all the way through I'd understand. I struggled with it, too.
This book could be divided into two parts: the theological and the political. I had a lot easier time relating to the political (and economic) parts of this book, for reasons that will be obvious to longtime readers of this blog. The political side of this book is, at times, extremely insightful, even though I had a hard time with the (long) discussions of the Quran, Sharia law, and their place in a hypothetical "modern Islamic society."
I should probably add that if this book had been titled The Crisis of Christian Civilization, The Crisis of Hindu Civilization, or The Crisis of Shinto Civilization I would have been equally unconcerned with the author's conclusions. I'm just not a religious guy, and the lapse of a religious outlook from the public sphere concerns me not at all. I don't spend a lot of time worrying about "spirituality" in either the personal or public sense, and the idea that Islamic civilization is somehow "doomed" isn't exactly keeping me up nights. I don't believe in spirits, I don't think national entities ought to have anything to do with God, and I think the problem with modern societies is an overabundance of superstition, not a lack thereof.
Just the same, the author says a lot of meaningful things about the interactions between Western and Islamic societies. The prologue to this book is well worth reading for its own sake, and some of the chapters near the end offered a thoughtful (if perhaps misguided) overview of the economic and political factors which are retarding the grown of Islamic civilization. I'd recommend this book, with some reservations.