Weekend Reading

Recollections of books carried back and forth on the elevated train -- in a long-term, though belated, attempt to learn something about the world.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

V.S. Naipaul - Beyond Belief

As a secular humanist, Naipaul has no use for religion - but he especially blames Islam for the destruction of  Hindu civilization - and this collection of narratives is something of a screed against the proliferation of the faith.

He interviews people in  Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia -- then tells their life stories.

In Indonesia, the stories are about men who combine missionary activity with technological development.  In Iran, the stories involve the aftermath of the passionate revolution and the long war with Iraq.  Amazingly, he got to interview  Sadegh Khalkhali, the notorious "hanging judge". In Pakistan the stories involve families caught up in the chaos of inter ethnic strife. (he's pretty sure that Pakistan was a bad idea to begin with - except that at least it made it easier for India to achieve some kind of political order).  In Malaysia, the stories involve people whose lives have not been dramatically changed  by Islam at all.  Native Malaysian beliefs seem to have been more important - which Naipaul sees as a  good thing.