Saturday, April 21, 2007

Covering Islam, Book Review

Published by Vintage 1997, this book ‘Covering Islam’ by Edward W. Said is the third in the series of the book that had first hit the shelf a decade and a half ago. In this updated version, Edward W. Said spotlights the role of American Media in penetrating a hostile and orthodox image of Islamic people in the minds of American general public.

The book comprises of Introduction to the Vintage Edition followed by an updated introduction by the author. The book further on in its three chapters engulfs various aspects of misinterpretation and misinformation about the Islamic world in the western minds and media.

The introduction to the Vintage Edition explains the serious deterioration in the practice of fair portrayal of the Islamic world and illustrating the same by a highly inflated stereotyping and aggressive hostility. He grieves over the deformation of Islam in the west equating it to ‘fundamentalism’ and reinforcing every negative fact with Islam. This introduction also highlights the contributions from pro- Israeli books and journals which endeavor to portray Israel as the victim of Islamic violence.

In the first chapter of the book, namely ‘Islam as news’, Edward Said traces the history that mirrors how Islamic armies and navies threatened Europe and still persists as a ‘threat’ to the west (p. 5-6). Edward claims that America has lacked interaction with the Islamic world which makes it tough for Americans to understand the depth of this religion and customs, unlike France and UK which have sheltered a major Muslim populace in their country (p. 13-14). The writer seems to have failed to notice the rising Muslim population in America which contradicts his claim in the book.

Outlining the strategic importance of Iran, the author has impressively used news articles to accentuate criticism of American media machinery. He centers the subject of representation of Islam as a formidable competitor of the west and seemingly a latecoming challenge to Christianity. Effectively stating the use of Islam by the geopolitical strategists and liberal intellectuals, Edward supports his claims by highlighting relevant information and extracts from relevant articles that periodically appeared in newspapers over years. The last part of the first chapter provides particulars about the controversial film, Death of a Princess and the diplomatic incidences involved.

In the second segment of the book, he illustrates news reports and newspaper articles on Iranian revolution further clarifying the way generality and experts on Islam resulted in misinterpretation of Khomeini and ignored the positive aspects of the revolution. Said has criticized the American media on the aspect that it functions like the mouthorgan of the government. This analysis is justified to a degree but Said should comprehend that fact that during a time of instability and crisis, the media attempts to adjust its tone in order to maintain the sanctity of nation’s sovereignty and image.

Edward in his third section of the book overtly states that the knowledge and coverage of the Islamic world in the USA are defined by geopolitics and economic interest (p. 153-154). Said suggests the interpreters and writers to know thoroughly about the alien culture before they pen down a statement which exudes vibes of bias.

Some statements and arguments in the book tend to create walls of controversy which if battered could turn out to be irrational discussions against the west. Said has endeavored to portray the other side of the mirror with substantial statements and facts but when the accounts boil down to reality, the cartoon controversy and reaction of the Muslims concerning Pope’s statement make it difficult for the western world to swallow every word or argument in the book. In the nutshell, this book is a excellent piece of work to know about the unexplored side of Islam but somewhere the waves of bias make it a bit difficult to absorb every aspect of the book.



mick jagger said...

be original .all these poems are available at some poem sites on the net .you are just cut copy pasting poems from where ever and posting it on your blog.i have no such problems with that but i being a poet feel that this is a disgrace to the poet communtiy.i feel that this is just like robbery are just robbering some poets hard work .
dont take this personaly cause many people do the same but i am writting this on your bolg only because i feel that you have a touch or an eye of a poet. i think that you can do very well as a poet if you become original.i can see that your connection with poems is deep inside that is why you have put such emotional or connective pictures for the poem.
if you need any help just reply back on this comment, ill be glad to help.

mick jagger

AM said...

hey there...

Hope lief's treating u gud...!!
actualy this is the first time daty someon has posted sucha comment on my blog...i dont know if i shud take it as a comment or a compliment but the truth is i feel gud bout the fact..dat u feel i havnt written them maself coz probably dey r gud in sm degree!!!

nyways I jus' wanted to ask u dat if u claim dat des poems have been copied n pasted from sm random site available on the net den plz...for god em out n send me the links...!!

I have nothing better to say coz probably I am maself trying to seep in the fact dat i hav copied em..eheheh!!

If u think i hav done so den plz find ny one from ma whole blog on the net n send me the link..i wud soulfully aprreciate dat

Hope to haer from u

Mick Jagger said...

well ...i would just like to say best of luck & go on with your life ...u can assume whatever you want. i dint want to poof anything, just liked to know you seemed an interesting person but after reading your reply i think that it was a waste of time cause i feel that your a little arrogant...dont take it personaly but this is what i felt.
plus if you want links to the ORIGINAL poems ill be surely glad to give them to you. i read lots of poems like these on the internet. i dint bookmarked them but now i have to defend my words so i will search again and give them to you.
i being a magazine editor , deal with such poems everyday.And i being a poet and a editor liked your sense of presenting the poems.And i was hoping that you could have helped me but it was my fault that i accused you for copying(which i will prove)
sorry if i in any sorts heart you or troubled you

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger said...

i would realy like to go one on one with you while chating..
n we will stick to this blog now onwards
the name idraak seems pleasing

AM said...

I think i was a very anti-arab person but off late I have started venturing into their culture and language. That is the prime reason why i thought the word 'Idraak' was apt for what i feel..It means perception and when my views are bound to be having slants of bias, I kept the name Idraak.


diana jagger said...

sorry but mick wont reply now.
he passed away
diana jagger

Diana said...

he was involved in a road accident.
a paper was found in his dairy having your address. it had important written on it.After reading the comments i have a idea of the also has the links you had asked for.

Diana Jagger (Mick's wife)

AM said...


I dont know if I should be replying to this comment because probably you might not even be reading it!!

I am really sorry for what happened. I am erally sceptical as to what should my content in this reply be. I feel very sorry for Mick and the unfortunate accident.

All I would like to say is, Please keep yourself strong and remeber God is always there holding our hands with the hope of showing us the right path. God loved Mick more than many of us here on earth so he has just called him to give his heaven some good souls.
May his soul rest in peace
God Bless you dear


diana said...

Well his health was not going good these days and he was ....
sorry ill complete the comment later