“In this must-read book, the author gives a fascinating and lucid picture of the rapid geoexpansion of the Muslim world, driven by high levels of fertility and a puritanical theology.”
—Moorthy Muthuswamy, Nuclear physicist and author of Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War
“Dr. Vann makes a strong case that secularists and liberals should be concerned about fundamentalism, whether preached by puritan Muslims, Jews, or Christians. Using a thorough review of demographics, he also offers an in-depth view of the potential negative impact of fundamentalist Muslims immigrating to non-Muslim countries.”
—Edward H. Davis, PhD, Professor of geography, Emory & Henry College
Muslim enclaves composed of recent immigrants are an increasingly common part of societies in Western Europe, North America, and South America. Unfortunately, this population trend has sometimes resulted in conflicts between the long-established residents and the newcomers. This is especially true of Muslim immigrants from a very traditional or puritan background (such as Wahhabism and Salafism), who view the Quran as the sacred word of God and have radically different notions of self, community, governance, and nation from more secularized citizens of other backgrounds.
In this unique analysis of Muslim population shifts in the Western world, geographer Barry A. Vann provides fresh insights into the theological factors that play into these demographic trends. Vann examines the “imagined geographies” of Muslims with a puritan orientation.
As he shows, their worldview is divided into sacred spaces: the abode of Islam exists in stark contrast with the abode of war or contested space. In one space, Allah has promised to reward the faithful with lush, thriving lands; in the other he punishes people who have not followed his laws. Believers in these imagined geographies tend to see the abode of Islam as having a mandate to expand until someday an endpoint is reached, when the whole world is subservient to Islam. By the same token, society must also be purified until it reaches an idealized state when all Muslims will thrive and prosper.
Clearly, people with this mind-set are little inclined to accept a pluralistic, multicultural, live-and-let-live concept of society. And conflicts between conflicting value systems are almost inevitable.
However, Vann notes that this purist approach to Islam is certainly not universal among Muslims, and there are many varying interpretations that are more moderate in outlook. Nonetheless, the undeniable theological background of all Muslim communities colors their values and attitudes, and must be taken into consideration when attempting to understand the potential conflicts between contiguous Muslim and non-Muslim groups.
Given the fact that the population of Muslim immigrants is growing in traditionally Christian and increasingly secular countries of the Western world while the resident populations are either stagnant or declining, Vann’s insightful analysis of the ways in which Islam influences perceptions of community and geography is of great relevance.
Pages: 228 (photos, maps)
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Barry A. Vann is professor of geography and higher education at the University of the Cumberlands. He is the author of The Forces of Nature: Our Quest to Conquer the Planet; Puritan Islam: The Geoexpansion of the Muslim World; Rediscovering the South’s Celtic Heritage; In Search of Ulster Scots Land: The Birth and Geotheological Imagings of a Transatlantic People; and (with Ellsworth Huntington) Geography toward History: Studies in the Mediterranean Basin and Mesopotamia.