Islam in the West. A simple enough statement, but one with multiple derivative implications. For this volume’s purposes, editor Edward E. Curtis IV makes it clear from the start that Islam is to be imagined “as part of, rather than as foreign to” to that which is referred to as “the West” (1).
This point may seem subtle, but it is vitally important in a climate—both popular and academic—that imagines Muslims as outsiders to “Western culture,” and as unassimilated foreigners in matters of national Western polity.
The Bloomsbury Reader on Islam in the West stakes an important position by not only including readings that exhibit this current bias against Muslims as part of a vision of some trumped-up “clash of civilizations,” but also by showcasing work that highlights the specific and textured ways in which Muslims have long been part of the West and been intimately involved in its political, economic, social, cultural, and religious make-up.
Exploring the presence, and effect, of Muslims in the lands now collectively called “the West” from 711 (when Muslim polity ruled the Iberian Peninsula) to 2015 (amidst the “Global War on Terror”), the book is ambitious in scope and diverse in its contents. It is divided into two parts: “Islam in Western history,” and “Islam in the contemporary West.”