Marc Ferro

The Clash of Islam 18th to 21st Century Publication date : May 1, 2002

Faced with the expansion of the Western world over the last centuries, the Islamic world has adopted several different attitudes. Some parts of it have chosen to modernise in order to regenerate and better resist the West. Others have chosen instead to de-Islamise their societies, and to succumb to the temptation of the West in order to modernise. More recently, others have taken the opposite tack and islamised modernity, an openly aggressive choice. In order to understand how these positions have asserted themselves over the last two centuries, one should first of all abandon a European or Western historical perspective, and stop trying to understand the Turkish, Iranian and Indian situations through the prism of Western revolutionary movements - an exercise which is tantamount to desanctifying the Muslim world. Marc Ferro's historical study of the great Islamic empires and their collapse examines the present situation of a divided Muslim world and a disoriented West.

Marc Ferro is an honorary director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. His recent, highly acclaimed Histoire de France was the fourth best-selling book on a historical subject in France in 2001, according to Livres Hébdo (1st February 2002).