A Convergence of Civilizations by Youssef Courbage
The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World

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We are told that Western/Christian and Muslim/Arab civilizations are on the verge of destroying each other. The demographics of one group remain sluggish, while the population of the other has exploded, widening the cultural gap and all but guaranteeing the outbreak of war. Leaving aside the media's sound and fury on this subject, measured analysis shows another reality taking shape: rapprochement between these two civilizations, benefitting from a universal movement guiding humanity since the Enlightenment.

This book's historical and geographical sweep discredits the notion of a specific Islamic demography. The range of fertility among Muslim women, for example, is as varied as the religious behavior among Muslims in general. Whether agnostics, fundamentalist Salafis, or al-Qaeda activists, Muslims are a diverse group that proves the immutability and individuality of Islam. Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd consider different degrees of literacy, patriarchy, and defensive reactions among minority Muslim groups across the world, underscoring the massive secularization movement spreading throughout Arab and Muslim populations. In this regard, they argue, there is very little to distinguish the evolution of Islam from the history of Christianity, with the Muslim world now entering into a global modernity. Sensitive to demographic variables and their reflection of personal and social truths, Courbage and Todd effectively upend a dangerous meme, in which a fractured world is believed to be close to crisis because of an epidemic of closed cultures and men made different by religion.

About Youssef Courbage

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Youssef Courbage is research director at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies. His research concerns Arab and Muslim countries, Asia and Eastern Europe, and interactions among demography and politics. He has studied economics, sociology, demography, and urban planning at Lebanese and French universities.Emmanuel Todd is a researcher at the French National Institute for Demographic Studies and author of numerous books, including After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order, The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere, The Making of Modern France: Ideology, Politics, and Culture.
Published April 26, 2011 by Columbia University Press. 152 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Through careful analysis of demographic data from the Middle East, Central Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, the authors show how such factors as the overall decline in the birth rate and an increase in female literacy are symptoms of “a major anthropological transformation” that points t...

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Publishers Weekly

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It's an old trope that Muslim and Western societies are undergoing a "clash of civilizations"—one that this slim study neatly and persuasively rebuts.

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