The Introduction summarizes the book's main research questions and arguments. It asks why forty-nine Muslim-majority countries have higher levels of violence, authoritarianism, and underdevelopment, in comparison to world averages. It criticizes the explanations that point to Islam or Western colonialism as the root cause. Instead, it argues that the ulema–state alliance, which emerged in the eleventh century, has been the main reason for Muslims' enduring problems. The ulema–state alliance marginalized the intellectual and bourgeois classes. This alliance also eliminated a certain level of separation between religious and political authorities, as well as intellectual and economic dynamism, which existed in the Muslim world before the eleventh century.