I've slacked a little (maybe a lot) in my upkeep of this here bog. School has started and I can not pull my head up out of my homework long enough to write something decent (worth reading) in my opinion. So, I will write a quick overview.
Classes are great...a ton of work, but ultimately really great. My history of the modern middle east course is phenomenal. We as Americans really just don't get it and the "information" we are handed just isn't cutting it. You have to go further, that civilization and the religion that dominates the social and political systems, deserves so much more attention and research. It will surprise you with the amount of misinformation you have been force fed by American ethnocentrism. For instance...did you know that the Qua ran, for it's time, was the most "woman friendly" established religious text? It gave women so many rights and standing in society that they had never had before....the extremism has to do with political regimes. Islam itself protects women.
Now, I'm not a religious person. I was raised very Christian, but I asked too many questions that couldn't be answered. I clearly have a bias...but, I think religions as well as its effect on people, politics and foreign policy to be some of the most interesting social institutions from ancient to modern times. The middle east is a testament to what religion can do...bring together and force apart in the most extreme sense of those two ramifications. So though I am definitely not a "believer" in the organized sense, there is just too much to learn from religion to ignore it completely.
As you are probably bored, I will finish up my tirade. The book you see me holding is a good start if you're at all interested, and all of this (as you can see) is really grabbing at me, maybe it will you too!