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The Future of Political Islam Paperback – May 14, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403965560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403965561
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,309,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fuller, a former vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, sets out to de-mystify Islam and its relationship to affairs of state in this broad survey of Islamic political movements. Attributing the rise of militant and fundamentalist Islam to centuries of Western colonialism, imperialism and cultural domination, Fuller points out that in most Middle Eastern countries, politicized Islam is often the only alternative to repressive, authoritarian regimes. To his credit, he treats this as neither an excuse nor a justification, but a simple reality. As with any other religion or political movement, Islam takes on a variety of forms: "Islamism is really a variety of political movements, principles and philosophies that draw general inspiration from Islam but produce different agendas and programs at different times." While Fuller succeeds in explaining that Shari'a, or Islamic law, is less a form of governance (as many fundamentalists argue) than a personal code of conduct, he brings a powerful argument to bear against many radical and repressive interpretations of the Koran. Fuller's narrative doesn't always pack the cogent punch of that section of the book, which as a whole can feel somewhat scattershot. Although Fuller manages to include much valuable and clearly presented information in these pages, he occasionally repeats himself, especially towards the end of the book. Nonetheless, this is an illuminating read and a welcome addition to the growing literature on contemporary Islam, and Fuller's prognosis-of increased tensions between international Islam and the U.S.; a focus on revenge rather than growth; the potential obsolescence of more liberal Islamic political movements, among other predictions-is sobering.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"...an illuminating read and a welcome addition to the growing literature on contemporary Islam..."--Publishers Weekly Annex

"After September 11, 2001, the discussion around Islam has often been shrill and usually sterile; that is why Graham Fuller's measured, scholarly and eminently sensible voice needs to be heard. Read Fuller's new book The Future of Political Islam to make sense of the dangerous, changing and complex relationship between the West and the world of Islam."--Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C. is author of Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World (I.B.Tauris, 2002)

"This is the most insightful book on developments in political Islam since the Iranian revolution shook the world. Having lived myself many years in the shadow of a mosque, I can say without hesitation that Fuller has captured the core and nature of Islamism. Importantly, he casts the movement as part of the solution to the looming confrontation between the United States and what we call the Islamic world, not just the cause of the confrontation. The Future of Political Islam is a must read, both for those shaping U.S. policy toward one-fifth of mankind and for America's own religious leaders who themselves have a hand on the political tiller."--Milt Bearden is a former senior CIA official and author of The Black Tulip (Random House, 2002) and co-author of The Main Enemy (Random House, 2003)

"Graham Fuller is supremely qualified to provide rich insight into contemporary Islamic thinking on politics, economics and international relations. Here his sensitivity to differences among Muslims combines with an impressive discussion of contemporary developments, resulting in an important contribution to understanding. Fuller argues persuasively that Islamic political movements are, above all, an engagement with the modern world, not a flight from it, and that it is possible to reason critically with their ideas. Fuller's hope that Islamist movements will engage in participatory politics, and his belief that they should be tested by the experience of government, underpin his cautiously optimistic analysis that the future of political Islam can be peaceful."--Fred Halliday, London School of Economics, author Nation and Religion in the Middle East

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Fuller's insight into this topic is outstanding.
Azfar Kazmi
"The issues are not what Islam is, but what Muslims want, and not whether Islam will play a central role in politics, but which Islam."
Tahir Ali
In chapter two, he analyzed the very diverse roles that political Islam plays today.
Tim F. Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tahir Ali on March 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tahir Ali - author of book "Muslim Vote: Counts and Recounts"

Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA analyst, who has written many books and monographs on Islam, builds his case with a simple but telling remark. "The issues are not what Islam is, but what Muslims want, and not whether Islam will play a central role in politics, but which Islam."

In the concluding chapter of his book, Fuller offers "A Prognosis" about the Muslim world and the US: We need to contemplate, he argues, the possible future(s) that await political Islam and the courses of action available to the United States.

While he anticipates further deterioration of the US relations with the Muslim world, he also believes that this dark scenario can be averted if the U.S. is willing to arrest this rapid deterioration by taking a number of concrete steps that include: 1) "A more benign, less confrontational international order and the diminution of terrorism in general, 2) The abandonment by Washington of relentlessly harsh, peremptory, and unilateralist policies toward the Muslim world in the context of War against Terrorism, and adoption of more sympathetic cooperation and engagement with the Muslim world, 3) The attainment of a just solution to the Palestinian problem, 4) Significant reform and political change in the Muslim world, supported actively by the United States, 5) Improved conditions in most of the developing world, and especially in the Muslim world, that ameliorate the current mode impotence and anger and offer hope and sense of progress, 6) High domestic incentives for populations in the Muslim world to reject any sympathies for potential terrorism against the United States as irresponsible, unproductive, and damaging to clearly more promising alternatives before them."

A must read for truth seekers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on December 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In _The Future of Political Islam_, author Graham E. Fuller sought to answer the fundamental questions of what is the nature and future of political Islam. Does political Islam represent the "last heroic stand" of Muslim culture against (largely American-led) globalization or does it instead represent a dynamic new synthesis of Islam and contemporary Western political thinking?

Early on Fuller established that political Islam (or Islamism) is not the same thing as fundamentalism. Political Islam is a very broad term and includes everything from radical to moderate, violent to peaceful, traditionalist to modernist views and policies. In reality, political Islam is not an "exotic and distant phenomenon," but one that is linked to a variety of contemporary social, moral, economic, and political issues of almost universal concern, not limited to issues that are profoundly religious and moral in content.

In chapter one, Fuller looked at important issues in Islamic history. A key political reality of the Muslim world today is the "fabled memory" of Islamic glory, one that "mocks" present Muslim impotence, an epic "stunning reversal of fortune." For Islamists key to this tragedy was an internal moral and spiritual decline of Muslim society, though most Islamists recognize that other cultural, intellectual, geopolitical, cyclical, and environmental factors were at work. Political Islam may represent the beginning of an intellectual reformation in Islamic thought, a reversal of marginalization of the Islamic world as it comes to accept the Western vocabulary of politics and its inherent values (democracy, pluralism, etc.) and become a social and political force to be reckoned with.

In chapter two, he analyzed the very diverse roles that political Islam plays today.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nate Wright on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In "The Future of Political Islam", Fuller engages two broad questions: what is political Islam and how should it develop in the future? In answering the first, he has done an excellent job of contextualizing his subject, locating its development within a historical trajectory, and clearly and convincingly outlining those problems for which Islamists claim to have solutions.

In his introduction, he makes it clear that his goal in writing the book is to counter those analyses which view the rise of political Islam purely as an injection of religious irrationality into the political realm. Instead, he claims that political Islam is a rational response to modernity and all its attendant problems. It is an engagement with modernity, not a rejection of it. Islamists, he claims, whether they are liberal and more openly "modernizing" or more conservative, are incorporating the language and structures of modernity - political representation, human rights, civil society - into Muslim culture.

This explanatory account of political Islam is the book's strength. Fuller's attempt at the second question - how should political Islam develop in the future - is less convincing. It is informed fully by his desire to incorporate the Muslim world as seamlessly as possible into the liberal-democratic ethos of the West. This desire infects the more descriptive aspect of his book as well, possibly resulting in an overemphasis on liberal Islamists and their compatibility (or, indeed, adoption) of Western political values.

While an accusation of an Orientalist attitude might not be entirely wrong, it would be misplaced. Fuller is sincere in his respect for the Muslim world and its ability to solve its own problems.
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