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The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism Paperback – September 9, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030453
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,702,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Schwartz provides much valuable information and insight. [His] case against Saudi Arabia and its foreign policy is irrefutable.” –The Wall Street Journal

“A major and welcome contribution on a topic that will only become more relevant. It is must reading for anybody who wants to know what exactly we are facing in the war on terror.” —National Review

“A powerful indictment of Saudi-Wahhabi duplicity. . . . A valuable study of a religious culture that could well end up in open conflict with the West (if it’s not already).” —The Washington Post

“The urgency for Americans is to place the news in context, and toward that end there is no better guide than Stephen Schwartz. . . . No writer has done more to expose Wahhabism than Mr. Schwartz has.” —Dallas Morning News

From the Inside Flap

Since its formation in 1932, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by two interdependent families. The Al Sa?uds control politics and the descendants of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab impose Wahhabism?a violent, fanatical perversion of the pluralistic Islam practiced by most Muslims. Stephen Schwartz argues that Wahhabism, vigorously exported with the help of Saudi oil money, is what incites Palestinian suicide bombers, Osama bin Laden, and other Islamic terrorists throughout the world.

Schwartz reveals the hypocrisy of the Saudi regime, whose moderate facade conceals state-sponsored repression and terrorism. He also raises troubling questions about Wahhabi infiltration of America?s Islamic community and about U.S. oil companies sanitizing Saudi Arabia?s image for the West. This sharp analysis and eye-opening expose illuminates the background to the September 11th terrorist attacks and offers new approaches for U.S. policy toward its closest ally in the Middle East.

Customer Reviews

The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism This is by far, the best book on Islam I've read to date.
It almost gave the impression, as I got farther along into the book, I felt as if he as raising his voice at me to the point of shouting "Don't you people get it?"
Robert Taft
There must be some value to this work, but it is disheartening to wade through the muck contained in this book to find an occasional gem.
Dr. B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By simple on July 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
I found the book a generally good read. However, as someone who knows very little about Islam, I get the feeling that this book is not telling the whole story. He seems to paint the world of Islam in general black and white strokes, with 'good' and 'bad' Muslims. Another problem I had is that Schwartz makes alot of accusations about members of some American Islamic institutions being terrorrists, but buries any information in the footnotes. I felt that such strong accusations deserved more information in the book. One reader says that this should be the one book a person should read, but I would disagree. It is definitely worth the time to read, but it left me looking for some different points of view.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. TURNER on May 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Schwartz did not go out to write an academic treatise on Islam or write an "objective" piece about how terrible they are (much to the chagrin of many). He wrote on his own research and his own experiences, and he says so very directly at the beginning of his book. His sources and experiences are solid. Several reviewers of the book show great disdain that Schwartz either doesn't go into great, gory detail of how awful Islam is compared to their religions or how he seems to take "their" side. Schwartz makes very good points in the book, and anyone who really wants to learn something new will get it.

Schwartz doesn't paint a rosy picture of what Islam has become in many quarters, but he puts a lot of things into understandable context. Someone in another review wrote that Schwartz doesn't ever site the Qu'ran...

Obviously, they didn't read the book. Schwartz quotes the Qu'ran no less than six times by the end of Chapter One.

* * * * * * *

No. It's not an emotionless, totally objective work. Yes. It is partly a history book and partly an explanation of the "sociology of Islam".

Order it if you want to broaden your horizons on the subject. If you want more reasons to hate or dismiss Islam, find another, because Schwartz' book does such a good job all you'll do is get upset.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on December 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
We in the United States are used to the idea that Islamic extremists may be up to no good. And that some Muslim nations are behaving like enemies to us. But which ones? Iraq, when Saddam Hussein ruled it? Iran? Syria? Afghanistan under the Taliban?

How about Saudi Arabia, which has been an American ally?

This book describes Wahhabi extremism and gives a useful history of Saudi relations with the West.

The most interesting portion of the book is the chapter titled "Religious Colonialism," which describes what Schwartz describes as the Wahhabi conquest of American Islam. The author states that American Muslims are a rather diverse community. However, Wahhabis and Wahhabi money have taken over the leadership of many Muslim organizations. These include the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), the American Muslim Council (AMC), the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Wahhabi money also supports some Hamas operational groups such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).

In addition, the Wahhabis have successfully lobbied to get non-Muslims to see them as the premier representatives of American Muslims. Schwartz notes a letter from a number of Christian organizations, including representatives of the United Church of Christ, the National Council of the Churches of Christ, the Presbyterian Church, the National Council of Catholic Bishops and a leading body of the Methodist Church. That letter protested alleged unfair media scrutiny of AMC activites and referred to AMC in its first line as "the premier, mainstream Muslim group in Washington.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I tend to agree with the first review on this site by "a reader" who wonders whose side Stephen Schwartz is on. I have read his articles in The Weekly Standard and elsewhere and expected a more Western view of Islam. The acknowledgement section at the end of the text reveals what some chapters implied, that Schwartz is himself a Sufi mystic from a Jewish background. That explains his portrayal of the Shi'ites and Sufis in the Balkans, Caucasus and central Asia in innocuous terms, and his soft treatment of the Iranian Islamist revolution.
That being said, his book is an excellent and detailed portrayal of the rise of the Sa'ud dynasty and its partner, the Wahhabi sect of Islam, which I would describe as a Bedouinized, harsh and austere view of religion. I dislike the terms radical and fundamentalist because they suggest a return to the roots or foundational principles of a movement. Judging rom Schwartz's account of the life and character of Muhammed, there is very little of his basic principles in Wahhabism, which is militant and domineering, practicing a kind of religious colonialism toward all other branches of Islam using oil wealth to export its philosophy through building mosques, complete with Wahhabist imams and schools of indoctrination nearly everywhere. These are the source of mujahadin, who are not the philosopher warriors of the past but brainwashed juveniles who have been turned into suicide bombers in madrassas. They have had their view of life, the normal hope and ambition of young people, stripped away and a vision of martyrdom, resting in the Garden of Allah with 72 dark-eyed virgins, inculcated in its place.
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