Beyond Belief 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. ‘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
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