"For sheer abundance of talent, there can hardly be a writer alive who surpasses V. S. Naipaul. [He is] the world's writer, a master of language and perception."--The New York Times Book Review
"A superlative traveler who misses nothing worth the record."--The Times (London)
Beyond Belief is a book about one of the more important and unsettling issues of our time: the effects of the Islamic conversion of Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, and Malaysia. It is not a book of opinion. It is--in the Naipaul way--a very rich and human book, full of people and stories.
Islam is an Arab religion, and it makes imperial Arabizing demands on its converts. In this way it is more than a private faith, and it can become a neurosis. What has this Arab Islam done to the histories of these converted countries? How do the converted peoples, non-Arabs, view their past--and their future? In a follow-up to Among the Believers, his classic account of his travels through these countries, V. S. Naipaul returns after seventeen years to find out how and what the converted preach.
In Indonesia he finds a pastoral people who have lost their history through a confluence of Islam and technology. In Iran he discovers a religious tyranny as oppressive as the secular one of the Shah, and he meets people weary of the religious rules that govern every aspect of their lives. Pakistan--in a tragic realization of a Muslim re-creation fantasy--inherited blood feuds, rotting palaces, antique cruelty; then President Zia installed religious terror with $100 million of Saudi money. In Malaysia, the Muslim Youth organization is alive and growing, and the people are mentally, physically, and geographically torn between two worlds, struggling to live the impossible dream of a true faith born out of a spiritual vacancy.
A startling and revelatory addition to the Naipaul canon, Beyond Belief confirms the author's reputation as a masterly observer, a "finder-out" of stories, as well as a magnificent teller of them.
From the Hardcover edition.