Beyond Belief, Paperback book

Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among The Converted Peoples[Paperback]

by V.S. Naipaul

3.50 out of 5 (2 ratings)

Pan Macmillan 
Publication Date:
03 September 2010 
Travel Writing 


This is a book about one of the more important and unsettling issues of our time. But it is not a book of opinion. It is, in the Naipaul way, a very rich and human book, full of people and their stories: stories of family, both broken and whole; of religion and nation; and of the constant struggle to create a world of virtue and prosperity in equal measure. Islam is an Arab religion, and it makes imperial Arabizing demands on its converts. In this way it is more than a private faith; and it can become a neurosis. What has this Arab Islam done to the histories of the non-Arab Islamic states: Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia? How do the converted peoples view their past -- and their future? In a follow-up to Among the Believers, his classic account of his travels through these countries, V. S. Naipaul returns, after a gap of seventeen years, to find out how and what the converted preach. 'Sceptical, enquiring, sharply observant and unfailingly stylish' Guardian 'Peerless ...the human encounters are described minutely, superbly, picking up inconsistencies in people's tales, catching the uncertainties and the nuances ...there is a candour to his writing, a constant precision at its heart' Sunday Times

Showing 1-2 out of 2 reviews.

  • In 1995, Naipaul travelled to 4 non-Arab Muslim countries: Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia, the same countries he visited in 1979 which he wrote about in Among the Believers. His thesis is that Islam makes imperial demands on its converts. More than a private faith, it can become a neurosis. A convert's world view alters, his holy places are in Arab lands, his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters, he turns away from everything that is his. The disturbance for societies is immense, people develop fantasies of who and what they are. These countries can be easily set on the boil.In this book, he attempts to find out what this religion has done to the histories of these 4 countries, and how these converted peoples view their past, and their future. And here, Naipaul does what he does so wonderfully -- telling other people's stories. As he journeys through these places, at times visiting those whom he interviewed 17 years ago, we learn about certain characters, their family histories, their motivations, their dreams. Islam, while a font of hope, also buries traditions, cultures, and wholly faces modernizing influences only when the cause of Islam is furthered. Naipaul is a sensitive observer, letting the stories come out. He makes an observation now and then, but never comes across heavy-handed. A master writer, he easily shifts between details in a character's life to the big picture of history, in easy and simple prose one forgets we are talking of very complex themes here. Themes and issues even more compelling today than they were at the time of this book's publication. An enlightening and very fascinating read. Naipaul can never disappoint, even if he tried.

    4.00 out of 5


  • A quite good book about 4 of the biggest Muslim countries in the world (Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia)The inhabitants of those 4 countries get the chance to tell their personal stories. With Islam as the main subject. This gives you a good insight in the country and local Islam.However, when Naipaul has the word you kind of notice a defiant and negative attitude towards these people and islam in general.He feels sorry for them because they're Muslim. And speaks of the cultural destruction and negativity brought by the Islam to these countries.The western influences are being portrayed as funny, weird and positive. While the western influences have the same effect on the local culture as Islam. (cultural destruction and negativity)

    3.00 out of 5


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