- Paperback: 373 pages
- Publisher: Transaction Publishers (September 11, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765809818
- ISBN-13: 978-0765809810
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,054,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Order now and we'll deliver when available.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
“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.”
“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
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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).
Muslims had ruled millions of Christians in Europe for 450 years before being displaced by Turkey. Then the western cultural onslaught began in the first half of the 18th century, and ran from Umma's eastern end (China and Indonesia) to its west (Crimea). By the end of 1919, only Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Arabia and Yemen retained political independence, the first three by balancing the claims of Britain against those of Russia and the latter two simply by being remote and completely barren. Meanwhile, the Muslim Empire had also lost battles of scientific, technical, mechanical, geographic and historical knowledge. Even daily Western life differed markedly from that of the Islamic east. Thus fundamentalists began lobbying for strict Shari'a everywhere in the Umma.
In contrast, reformist Muslims argue that traditional Shari'a is hopelessly illiberal and conflicts with the true Qur'anic values. They reject Shari'a traditions emanating from Hadith, consensus of the 'ulama and reasoning by analogy as inauthentic and outdated, respectively. Similarly, they approve of parliamentary systems of government, but view hold their record in Islamic society in contempt. On some fronts, liberal views conflict with themselves. While they admire pan-Islamic solidarity they are not committed to it; and they recognize national interests but disapprove of Muslim states fighting one another. And as for non-Muslims, according to Pipes, reformists are caught by ambiguity, between their desire for equal status for all and the wish for Dhimmi laws that traditional Islamic states use to bestow a special place on Muslims, while relegating all non-Muslims to inferior, even slavish conditions. The fact that Westernization did not markedly improve the Muslim world in the 1970s led to increasing fundamentalism.
Pipes devotes the third section to Islam in current affairs, detailing the effects of the fundamentalist surge on 22 Muslim-dominated nations from Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Central Asia and Asia to Algeria, Morocco and Egypt in Africa and Syria, Iran and Iraq, in the Middle East. In at least 8 other nations, from Malaysia to Nigeria, Muslims vie with non-Muslims for power. In one of these--the Sudan--the conflict has grown bloody since this book was written, forcing millions into subjugation and slavery. Pipes also reviews 20 areas, including the former Soviet Union, where Muslims account for less than a quarter of the population but are asserting themselves. Pipes includes an extensive 50-plus page look at the means that the oil boom provided to promote Islam. Oil is behind the political importance of Saudi Arabia, and the Iranian Revolution, for example.
But Pipes also concludes that an Islamic revival dependant on oil constitutes a mirage, for the cash that oil provides cannot last forever. This, Pipes predicts, will leave the Islamic world with a choice that has become increasingly urgent--to adapt and come to terms with global Westernization, or to accept apologetics, introversion and poverty.
This broad treatment remains as helpful in understanding current events as when it was written nearly 20 years ago. Alyssa A. Lappen
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. This mindset would presume that such respectable scholars of Islam, such as Charles Butterworth, Michael Sells, and Jane McAullife, to name a few, who often speak highly of Islam, are either achieving a personal gain by doing so or are "ill at ease" in their own societies.
The book is also marred by numerous errors. But the problem is not so much the errors as it is the kinds of errors one finds, and what they show us about the ideological nature of his scholarship. For example, in chapter 4 Pipes claims that "Muhammad abrogated the treaty [with the pagans] and captured Mecca." This is false. Any historian will tell you that it was the Koreish (then the pagan enemies of Muhammad) who launched an offensive onslaught against an ally of the Prophet, thus abrogating the treaty. Pipes's claim that Muhammad abrogated the treaty to capture Mecca presents the Prophet of Islam as a crude liar and conniving leader.
His ignorance of Muslim theology comes out when he claims the Koran falsely implies the Trinity to consist of Mary, Jesus, and the Father (p. 78). The Koran only presents a scenario of Judgment Day in which Jesus will deny having called people to worship him and Mary (5:116). Infact, there was a sect known as the Maryamites in early history that actually worshipped Mary. Had Pipes examined the verse, its commentaries, and the Near and Middle Eastern historical and theological context in which the Koran emerged, he would not have put forth the argument so hastily. But perhaps that would be making too much of a demand on someone already intent on showing us how the Sacred Text of Islam has it all wrong.
Some of his historical mistakes are simply embarrassing, coming as they are from someone who holds a PhD in Islamic history. "They [Shi'i Muslims] recognize as valid," he writes, "only the third of those first four caliphs, Ali ibn Abi Talib." Ali ibn Abi Talib was the fourth caliph, not the third, a fact that anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Islamic history should be familiar with. To use Bernard Lewis's words in another context, "This would be rather like putting the English Civil War before the Normal Conquest. Although no doubt irrelevant to the main issue, this procedure would not inspire confidence in the writer's ability to evaluate work on English [read: Islamic ] history" (p109, Islam and the West).
Athough IN THE PATH OF GOD has been widely praised by non-specialists since its publication 20 years ago, it has hardly been used by academics who are actually familiar with the territory, and who are able to detect the politically charged nature of his writing, which presents itself as disinterested scholarship but which actually distorts the subject. Only those experts who share the one-sided political leanings of this author utilize and recommend his works.