Chasing a Mirage;The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State'

Date Reviewed
June 4th 2008

The book ’Chasing a Mirage;The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State'’ by Tarek Fatah is about the illusion that Islamists have of replicating the golden age of Islam (800-1350 AD) with an Islamic state.


The dour homogeneity exuded by Wahhabism is the antithesis of the energy and diversity that reigned during the best periods of that golden age.


While the form of government developed in that period served those times, it lacked key features of transition of leadership and political institutions that would have allowed it to evolve.


The author gives a good synopsis of the history of that period, a subject I was entirely unfamiliar with.


He describes some of the great thinkers of those times. One that stands out was the 14th century intellectual Ibn Khaldun of Islamic Spain. He created “the science of the study of history and developed scientific methodology for calculating the rise and fall of civilizations.”


A quote from the book “Ibn Khaldun saw this decay unfolding among the Muslims of Spain and had he been alive today, he would have said the same about the United States and its imperial vision of the world. Ibn Khaldun wrote that a people driven by desire to fulfill every want would face moral decline, resulting in the fall of dynasties from internal decay or conquest. His message may have been too late for the Nasrid sultanate of Granada, but may be applicable to Western civilization as we know it.”


There are a couple of style aspects in the book I found annoying. He overuses laudatory adjectives in front of the name of someone he is about to quote and agrees with.


He frequently demeans the ‘ultra left’ for finding common ground with the Islamists. But at the same time mentions the Bush family’s close ties with the Saudis.


However, I am inclined to agree with some of his criticism of the ‘ultra left’ that may be too often trying to apologize for the behavior of the Islamists (vis a vis the Bush administration) and suggesting some sort of common ground which doesn’t and can’t exist.


But one of the overriding messages of the book is that most Muslims don’t agree with the Islamists who dominate the mosques and religious/community leadership.


And eloquently Ali Abbas Inayatullah, Karachi businessman says “In the pantheon of arts and sciences, we are nowhere to be found. In the gallery of whiners and underachievers, our numbers are ever increasing as we drift into the jaws of political Islam.”