Thursday, November 17, 2005
Karen Armstrong writes comparative works on Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, including The History of God and, most recently, Islam, a Short History. She is an Instructor at Leo Baeck College, England.
By the middle of the 20th century, pundits and intellectuals in the West generally took it for granted that secularism was the coming ideology and that religion would never again play a major role in public life. However, within a few years, it became clear that a militant piety had erupted in every major faith, dragging God and religion back to center stage from the sidelines to which they had been relegated. The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran showed the potential of this new form of faith. Western observers were astonished to see an obscure mullah overturning what had appeared to be one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East. “Who ever took religion seriously?” cried a frustrated official in the US State Department shortly after the revolution. But the United States itself had recently witnessed the rise of Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority, and a radical religiosity fueled the Arab- Israeli conflict on both sides.
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