Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World

Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, Author . Free Press $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4165-8968-6

Nasr (The Shia Revival ) offers a fresh look at the future of religious extremism in the Middle East, suggesting that “the great battle... for the soul of the region will be fought not over religion, but over business and capitalism.” He posits that a rising middle class—seen most dramatically in Dubai, but a force across the whole Muslim world—is far more interested in economic success than in fervent religiosity, even as many bring a distinctly Muslim approach to the business they do. He points out that while the Reformation created the modern world, it wasn't that era's “intolerant faith” that made the transformation but rather “trade and commerce,” adding that “values gain currency when they serve the economic and social interests of people.” His in-depth analysis of the failures of various governments to provide for their people, as well as special focus on what is working in Turkey, and what is crippling Pakistan, helps drive his thesis home. Nasr's analysis can't help being somewhat hobbled by the fact that it depends heavily on the shifting sands of history-in-the-making, but his approach is sensible, well-argued and deserves close attention. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/29/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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