Book Review by F. Sheikh
Book “Conflicts Of Fitness” Islam, America and Evolutionary Psychology.
Author: A. S. Amin
It is a fascinating read that postulates how the reproductive drive to maximize fitness influences evolution of different cultures, societies and even religions. It also provokes intriguing questions and thinking.
Author lays the ground work of the rest of the book in Polygamy Chapter. It explains animals’ reproductive biology and how polygamy works in a society in different scenarios. It explains polygamy in Islam. It introduces us to terms of Paternity Confidence, short-term reproductive strategies, long-term reproductive strategies and how these effect our attitudes and decision-making from casual sex to traditional marriage, from interpreting religious edits to human rights motives, from dressing flashy to wear Hijab, from conservatism to modernization and from peaceful stability to terrorism. The book also touches upon helpful hints to find a better suit by employing reproductive instincts.
It familiarized us to the term ‘conflicts of fitness’ which is also the title of the book, and how it creates conflict in the society when one’s pursue of short-term reproductive strategy conflicts with the other’s goal of long-term commitment. This conflict of fitness influences from individuals to society at large and from Western countries, where casual sex and short-term commitment is prevalent to conservative Muslim countries, which mostly practice long-term commitment. Is this causing clash of civilization?
The book looks at some practices in Islam, like polygamy, Hijab and interpretation and selection of Hadiths, through the lens of evolutionary psychology and how the short and long-term reproductive strategies play a role in these practices. The author touches upon terrorism and its association with long-term reproductive strategy, but this relationship seems very tenuous and incidental.
As I mentioned the book provokes some intriguing thinking and questions, and the one question that repeatedly keep creeping up in my mind, while reading the book, is the question of cause or effect. For example, do short-term reproductive strategies or commitment emerge as incidental consequence of modernization, education, women independence and sexual liberation or it is the short-term reproductive drive that pursues the policies of modernization, education, women independence and sexual liberation to achieve short-term reproductive strategies? Or both perpetuate each other?
After reading the book, it allures you to know more about the subject and I can relate to the author when he describes how he got hooked to the topic and spent many years in writing this book. It is obvious from the reference section why he spent so much time. I congratulate the young author for doing a wonderful job in writing this book and would highly recommend for everyone, especially young generation, to read it. It is also available in Kindle Edition and makes it easy to get it in few minutes from Amazon.
The promising young author, Dr. A.S. Amin will be our guest speaker at TFUSA monthly meeting in April or May, and it will be a great session to hear the author’s views and his response to questions which naturally emerge while reading the book on such a complex topic. In order to enjoy the discussion, please read the book before coming to session.