02 August, 2021

Varied Salad

It ranks among the best travelogue-type studies of Muslim societies in recent years

Varied Salad
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I suspect I do not share Sadanand Dhume’s understanding of ‘civilisation’ (that inevitably I-pointing word), the world economy or even, at times, Islamism. But I can do nothing but recommend his book, My Friend The Fanatic. It ranks among the best travelogue-type studies of Muslim societies in recent years, narrowly failing to make my top cut of Jason Burke’s On the Road to Kandahar and Pankaj Mishra’s Temptations of the West.

Dhume’s My Friend the Fanatic runs along parallel tracks—segments on the history and socio-politics of Indonesia (and Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia), and segments based on Dhume’s travels in the country with Herry Nurdi, the title’s fanatic friend. Herry comes across as a complex, contradictory character—opinionated and open, prejudiced and justice-loving, an editor from the lower middle classes who is fascinated and repulsed by the upper classes, a fundamentalist who justifies militancy because he is convinced...

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