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Passion for Islam: Shaping the Modern Middle East: The Egyptian Experience (Lisa Drew Books) Hardcover – October 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
careful reporting and cogent analysis...indispensable -- The Washington Post, December 8, 2002
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Many in the west equate Islam with evil intent, extremist politics and intolerance, misogyny, and a host of other very negative attitudes. All of these are held by *some* Islamists from the extreme portion of the religion, and in some ways they can't be called the fringe--they're too mainstream. The author does a good job of describing the various participants in the movement, and explains the roots of the Muslim Brotherhood, the start of extremist Muslim thought in Egypt and the place Ayman al-Zawahiri got his start in politics, before he went on to become #2 in Al Qaeda.
The author works hard to discuss the various aspects of Islam and its relationship to Egyptian society, from how Islam deals with Christians in Egypt to the various ways the religion interacts with the government in Egypt to the way Al-Azhar University has dealt with the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Egypt. The result of the book is a clear picture of how Islamist thought, and extremism, have spread in Egypt, and why.
I enjoyed this book a great deal, and thought that I learned a great deal from it. I would recommend if to almost anyone interested in the subject.
Murphy works in historical details in a very clear fashion, mixing them with current-day journalism and interviews with people from all levels of the Egyptian social and political scenes. You get to hear from people inside or aligned with various movements, people in the Egyptian government, and most importantly, the ordinary people in the middle whose lives are affected by these forces. She shows in great detail the complexity and diversity of thought and feelings at work, and how what's happening cannot be understood in simple black-or-white interpretations.
I found that my own understanding of the situation was greatly enhanced by reading this book. Murphy's book does not provide solutions as much as a look at what is happening and a warning. These rising movements are not monolithic in their beliefs or in their goals, and should not be treated as such. And they do not occur in a vacuum. Unless the climate in which they have sprung up -- a poor country under a corrupt, inept faux-democratic government that suppresses all discussion and dissent -- is changed, they will only continue to grow as the only alternative available.