Book review - Destiny Disrupted

Destiny Disrupted is a rather captivating result of Tamim Ansary’s successful attempt at delineating world history through the eyes of Muslims and, in his own words, telling their story as if he were a coffee shop raconteur. I was caught off guard; I never thought a history book could turn out to be such an enjoyable page turner. The book isn’t long (it’s around 400 pages) but it covers more than 1400 years of history. Due to the constraints imposed by the length of the book, the author does not linger too long on any one event and yet doesn’t let the reader feel any lack of detail in his simple and laconic writing.

The book covers the complete history of the Muslim world: from the revelation to the present. Well, not actually to the present; the writer opines that the years post 9/11 can’t be categorized into history just yet. We read about the birth of Muslims in the Prophet Muhammad’s time, their proliferation during the Rashidun caliphate, their golden age during the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, their decline as a result of Turk and Mongol conquests, their reascendance as the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires and their inevitable capitulation at the hands of the western civilization. We read about how Muslims, who were once the superpowers of the world, ended up in their current state of squalor, depravity and religious extremism.

The author has taken a neutral stance and is humble enough to aver that he presents all the knowledge in the book not necessarily as what may have actually happened but as what Muslims think happened. This is not to say that the book is in any way biased; quite the contrary, the author presents copious references in footnotes throughout the book and has made his best effort to not take sides in his articulate and pellucid explanation of events. I would highly recommend the book to everyone; read it even if you haven’t read history before. Read it if you are, even minutely, curious about the succession of events leading to the current quandary of the Muslims. The book is a light, quick and enjoyable read, full of eye opening facts and sentiments.

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