Browncast Episode 118: Professor Ahmet Kuru, Islam, Authoritarianism and Underdevelopment

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In this episode we talk to Professor Ahmet Kuru. Professor Kuru teaches at San Diego State and is the author of (among others) “Islam, Authoritarianism and Underdevelopment”. We discuss his book and the causes of the (relative) decline of the Islamicate world in the last 800 or so years.

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

7 thoughts on “Browncast Episode 118: Professor Ahmet Kuru, Islam, Authoritarianism and Underdevelopment”

  1. Listening now.
    Checked out his Twitter. He has talked about the Ram Mandir on BBC NEWS hindi.

  2. Good talk but there were many claims which were left unchallenged. I had lots of disagreements throughout the talk but i guess it shows the compulsions of scholars of where they are situated & how it affects their research like his focus on contrasting Turkey & West with lack of nuances & less focus on much more complex regions like India & Pakistan {when Jinnah & many other leaders of Muslim world were equated with secularism during the talk}.

    A contrasting example is India when the secular turn happened in Muslim world it happened in India too but Indians kept on going with the idea of secularism for quite sometime before taking a turn towards Hindutva in the last decade. So all in all it was a good talk with some more historical insights & nuances to consider but since i have not read the book i won’t criticize the book but at the same time i don’t think that it will change anything much going forward.

  3. I concur with those saying it was a great episode. A few criticisms of the author:

    1. Too much focus on Turkey+Arabs and too little on the subcon.

    2. He had no real answer to Omar’s excellent question re: latent impulses in Islam manifesting and that the earlier ‘golden era’ was more liberal by compulsion (far more non-muslims in those lands at that time) rather than anything in Islam itself.

  4. Expected more explanation about the ‘Islamic golden age’, because I see Muslims using that point a lot

    He explains it with division of social classes but that didn’t sound entirely convincing

    Was it the same flavour of Islam back then or was it entirely different? And like principia said, there were more non-Muslims there, what impact did that have?

    The wiki for House of Wisdom has the following lines-

    “The House of Wisdom flourished under Al-Ma’mun’s successors al-Mu’tasim (r. 833–842) and his son al-Wathiq (r. 842–847), but considerably declined under the reign of al-Mutawakkil (r. 847–861). Although Al-Ma’mun, al-Mu’tasim, and al-Wathiq followed the sect of Mu’tazili, which supported broad-mindedness and scientific inquiry, al-Mutawakkil endorsed a more literal interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadith. The caliph was not interested in science and moved away from rationalism, seeing the spread of Greek philosophy as anti-Islamic.[20]”

    Mutazil was a very anti-Islamic theology

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