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BEYOND BELIEF - ISLAMIC EXCURSIONS AMONG THE CONVERTED PEOPLES - 1998

Morris Mottale reviews the text as presenting Naipaul’s “aversion to Islam [which] is neither religious nor existential, but driven primarily by political considerations and intellectual skepticism” (75). Kenneth Ramchand comments that “Thank God for illiteracy, no Ayatollah realised that his critique was more devastating than  that of Salman Rushdie on whose head a fatwah was pronounced” (39).  William Dalrymple in a review positions V S Naipaul and Amartya Sen as opposed to each other in the celebration of the Islamic contribution to Indian culture. Robert Balfour argues “that Islam became the vehicle for the narrator’s rage against imperialism and that the religion cannot patently address the many layers of distress experienced by converts desperate to remain connected to ideas of authenticity, place, purpose and value.” Amin Malak maintains that Naipaul got it wrong: “He extrapolates whatever contradictions he gleefully spots in the Muslim individuals he interviews in these countries toward totalizing assumptions about the whole societies to which those individuals belong.” Shashi Tharoor feels that the books are as much about the author as the countries he visits. L. Carl Brown asks provocatively: “Doesn’t Naipaul, in positing an essentailist Islam that must be inflexibly fundamentalist, deny Islam’s rich diversity, while ignoring the fundamentalist impulse in most religions?” Akbar Ahmed points out numerous mistakes in Naipaul’s rendition of Islam concluding that “The more he is critical of Islam the more understanding Naipaul becomes of Hinduism.”