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In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power Paperback – June, 1983

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Paperback, June, 1983
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (June 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465034535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465034536
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,814,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Among the outstanding contributions to public-policy debates are Daniel Pipes’s In the Path of God, a lively history of modern Islam and the politics it produces.”

—Ellen Wilson, The Wall Street Journal

“A cogent study of Islam as a political force in the modern world.”

—CW, National Review

“Scholarly, far-ranging, and thoughtful. . . .  the debate is interesting, and Pipes has make a stimulating contribution to it.”

—Ernest Gellner, The New Republic

“Brilliant, authoritative. . . .  demonstrates encyclopedic knowledge of Muslim intellectual history. . . .  Few other writers have explained so lucidly such complex developments in Muslim history. . . .  Pipes’ brief account is certainly useful to the nonspecialist trying to understand what seems to be the inherent political instability of the Muslim world. . . .  forcefully presented and cogently argued. . . .  The book is a valuable contribution to our understanding.”

—Thomas W. Lippman, The Washington Post

“Mr. Pipes’s forte is logical argumentation. The arguments here are usually clever, occasionally even brilliant, and invariably presented with verve and style.”

—Lisa Schiffren, The Wall Street Journal

“Pipes has handled his subject well. It is difficult these days to address the question of Islam, the Arabs, and their relations with Israel and remain nonpartisan. Pipes has managed to do just that. He has wended his way through that minefield unscathed. His book is a scholarly attempt to explain what is going on in that little-known, volatile, and very important part of the world - and to define the role that religion plays in it. For that reason, it is well worth reading.”

—Ronald Taggiasco, Business Week

“Daniel Pipes’s. . . .  insightful presentation that sets In the Path of God apart from the recent spate of didactic efforts by Islamicists and quickie potboilers by journalists on the ‘Islamic revival.’. . . .  a reasoned, literate explication of whence this bewildering Islamic resurgence has come and whither it is going. Specialists. . . . can also profit from Mr. Pipes’s approach. . . .  Mr. Pipes, a Harvard lecturer who has hitherto been known principally as an expert on medieval Muslim armies, helps us make sense of it all.”

—Bruce D. Hardcastle, Policy Review

“Daniel Pipes’ ambitious work. . . .  stands out for its historic sweep, its focus on the political aspects, and the cohesion that comes with single authorship. . . .  Pipes, with no apparent ax to grind is not afraid to predict that religious fundamentalism, as the answer to modern political and economic challenges, will fail.”

Foreign Affairs

“He has resisted a widespread tendency to translate Muslim self-expression into social science jargon as unintelligible as any mosque harangue. His unadorned interpretation strikes a judicious balance between faithfulness to sources and clarity of presentation. . . .  Here Pipes is at his very best.”

—Martin Kramer, The American Spectator

“This book, ambitious in its scope, eloquent in its presentation, and provocative in its judgments, is a welcome addition to the growing body of new Western writing on the interaction of politics and Islam. It offers both a comprehensive historical review and a wide-ranging contemporary survey of Islamic politics, in their doctrinal as well as practical manifestations. The result is a concise and erudite introduction to this subject for the general reader, and an interesting interpretation for those with more background in Islamic studies. . . . In pursuing its distinctive themes, the book largely succeeds on all three counts, demonstrating mastery of detail combined with an ability to capture the ‘big picture’ and make general arguments in the grand style.”

—David Pollock, Middle East Insight

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Daniel Pipes, a historian, is the president of the Middle East Forum. A former official in the US departments of State and Defense, he has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Pepperdine, and at the US Naval War College. The author of twelve prior books, Pipes writes a bi-weekly column for The Washington Times, The National Review, and other publications.


--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Few writers, Thomas W. Lippman wrote in the Washington Post, have explained so lucidly the complex developments of Muslim history.
It is difficult to address the questions of Islam, the Arabs and their relations with Israel and remain nonpartisan. But Business Week's Ronald Taggiasco called Pipes' scholarly explanation of events and faith in that little-known, volatile, and important part of the world well worth reading.
Pipes' reasoned, literate explanation of what generated the Islamic resurgence goes a long way to explaining recent events. Written in 1983, this book provided the first comprehensive political study of Islam's extraordinary role in modern world. We are fortunate indeed that Transaction has rescued the political and global implications of the Islamic revival, revealed here, from the out-of-print category, complete with a new preface for 2002.
The book is divided into three sections. The first covers the premodern legacy of Islam's sacred laws and its failure to implement the public ideal represented by those laws--as existed in the single state for Muslims (Dar al-Islam) from 622 to 753 A.D. According to Pipes, for most of Muslim history, traditional Muslims were willing to accept the gap between the ideal and the actual, to live with a less-than-complete implementation of Shari'a, although the Muslim approach to politics derived from the "invariant premises of the religion" established more than 1,500 years ago.
The second section covers Islam's encounters with the West, beginning with the matched powers of Crusaders against the Ayyubids, and proceeding quickly to Napoleon's 1789 invasion of Egypt. (This prompted the Ottoman Sultan Selim III to declare Jihad against the French and join the infidel British and Russian empires to keep his own in tact).
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Mr. Pipes, eminent scholear and great inflamicist of Islam most recently completed his book 'militant Islam reaches America' but this book is by far more scholaraly and gives a more complete picture of the Islamic world. This read has several shortcomings. Mr. Pipes attempts to survey many Islamic countries where Islam is the vast majority or the near majority. In these short paragraph length studies he does not touch on one subject that needs to be touched on, namely the fate of minorites in Muslim societies. He does not explain the ethnic cleansing carried out in many Muslim countries that helped create a homogeneity within nations like Turkey. Nevertheless he provides a wonderful appendix that includes a list of Muslim populations of countries throughout the world. What one will realize when reading this list is that the number of minority populations in a Muslim country is directly proportional to the time the country has been Muslim. I recommend this book wholeheartedly in light of our need to understand and critique the Islamic world. A good companion to 'The Rage and the Pride'.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jeremiah aram on October 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
a tour de force. this title is one of Pipes' early works when he was preaching about the "comimg storm" but no one in DC would listen.
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20 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Eric Kent on August 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am reading as much by Daniel Pipes as I can.
He is a genius, a historian and a person out to save America from the dangers of Saudi Arabian terrorists.
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19 of 47 people found the following review helpful By C. King Khidr on November 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
IN THE PATH OF GOD is a reprinting of the 1983 edition that came out during the Reagan era. Following its initial publication reviewers noted its hostility towards Islam and Muslims. One such reviewer observed in the Washington Post (12/11/83) that Pipes reveals "a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims [...] he professes respect for Muslims, but is frequently contemptuous of them." The writer went on to add that Pipes "is swayed by the writings of anti-Muslim writers," and that his book "is marred by exaggerations, inconsistencies, and evidence of hostility to the subject."

Not much of the content has changed in this latest publication. The important distinction that Pipes has more recently been drawing between "Islamism" (the political ideology) and "Islam" (the religion) is more or less absent from this work.

The shortcomings of the earlier work remain. One can't help to wonder whether anyone could write about Judaism or Christianity with the same liberty that Pipes gives himself with Islam. His arguments, unfortunately, are deceptively convincing on the surface, until further scrutiny.

What is one to make, for example, of Pipes's categorization of Westerners who have a favorable view of Islam as either those "who feel ill at ease in the West," or as "apologists...[who] promote Islam for profit" (pp. 14-15)? This is a sweeping generalization, and it is unfortunate that a self-proclaimed intellectual of his stature can resort to such a gross and binary simplification. His train of thought implies that no one can be an adherent of mainstream Western values and at the same time admire Islam.
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