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Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism Paperback – September 26, 2014
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"Fascinating, well-researched, well-documented, and well-written book . . . powerful, topical, compelling, persuasive, and dispassionate history that still at times reads like a novel―not to say a thriller. But this is a thriller that draws heavily on skilled analyses of the history, the rituals, the theology, the epistemology, and the politics of Lebanon and its Salafists."―Franck Salameh, The Levantine Review
"Gives an excellent historical background for Salifism and does a great job in explaining why so many are attracted to it in this day and age."―Olive Branch United
"Scholarship on political Islam in Lebanon has tended to focus on Hezbollah with little or no regard to Sunni forms of Islamism. Robert Rabil offers us a comprehensive study that brings to the discussion Sunni expressions of radical Islam and demonstrates its many shades and forms. Rabil also places Salafism in Lebanon in the context of Hezbollah's ideology and political action, as well as in a broader regional context. This work is timely as it provides an excellent historical analysis of Islamist streams of thought that operate in Lebanon and that play a major role in the political struggle in the country as well as in the civil war in Syria."―Asher Kaufman, professor of history and peace studies and director of doctoral studies, Notre Dame University
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, Rabil cogently demonstrates that the ideological lines among various Salafists become easily blurred in relation to Jihad as a means to claim the right to defend the Sunni community from internal and external foes. This is a must read book, which is by far the only, and most detailed and up-to-date study on Salafism in Lebanon, shedding the layers of confusion, and sometimes deliberate 'ignorance' wrapping this relatively new prominent religious movement."―Joseph Alagha , visiting professor of Political Science, Haigazian University
"Robert Rabil's new book, Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism, is a major achievement. This important book underscores the dramatic implications Salafism has for regional and international security. It is an absolutely essential historical and contemporary analysis of Salafism in the Arab world in general and Lebanon in particular. Rabil's in-depth knowledge of the subject and his extensive research provide readers with a clear understanding of the development of Salafism as theology, religious-political ideology, political programing, and as a motivating factor potentially leading to violence."―Ralph Nurnberger, adjunct professor of liberal studies, Georgetown University
"The most comprehensive, timely and firsthand account available of the origins, rise, and radicalization of Salafism in Lebanon and beyond. This book is indispensable for a better understanding of the Islamist phenomenon and its roots."―Sadek J. al-Azm, visiting scholar Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
"This is a provocative, timely, and engaging book. Robert Rabil has taken the veneer from the Salafist ideology by showing how Lebanon, a "land of secularism, decadence, and pluralism," became a fertile ground for this puritanical movement. This is essential reading for understanding the crisis of Lebanon, and of the modern world. "―Robert Allison, History Department Chair, Suffolk University
"The Salafi movement amongst Lebanese Sunnis has never received much attention in English-language publications. With the Syrian civil war's aggravation of Sunni-Shi'a tensions in Lebanon, Professor Rabil's book could not be more well-timed to fill this gap in the literature. He explains the complex Salafi tendencies and movements in Lebanon in clear, lucid detail. Anyone wishing to understand more about Lebanon and the impact of the Syrian civil war on the region as a whole needs to read this book. "―David Romano, Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics, Missouri State University
"Robert Rabil tackles the timely topic of Salafism in Lebanon, the true elephant in the room nowadays amongst the country's myriad challenges. While scholarly concentration of late has been devoted to the dissection of Lebanon's Hezbollah, precious little has been done to investigate radical Sunni counterpart movements with a penchant for violent self-fulfillment. Rabil's work remedies this gap magnificently, as it takes the reader methodically from Salafism's hub in Tripoli with its nascent Saudi influences, through the embracing environment of Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, and on to the intolerant Takfiri variety of Salafism. Most insightful is Rabil's sobering analysis of the shortsighted weakness of Lebanon's moderate Sunni leadership in misreading and underestimating both the durability and potential potency of transnational Salafism in their midst."―Habib Malik, Associate Professor of History, Lebanese American University (Byblos campus)
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Rabil introduces the reader to how “modernity” clashed with Islam from the beginning. Growing French influence in the Levant angered the Muslims, not only because it gave more power to Lebanon’s Maronite Christians, but that it made Islam look weak. In Turkey, Mustapha Kemal’s laws against the religious authority angered the Muslims, and though there was no mass communication to spread the news, it did reverberate.
Another issue discussed here is the Muslims’ distrust of government. Firstly, they felt betrayed by Ataturk, but since Turkey was not Arabic-speaking, there wasn’t much that Arab Muslim radicals could do. Secondly, the idea of Saudi Arabia having a monarch angered a lot of Muslims, leading to the famous Siege of Mecca in the 80’s. In a religious ideology that promotes combat as a means to an end, and has strict rules against idolatry, the idea of everyone following one man will easily anger the people.
Robert Rabil gives excellent historical background for Salafism, and does a great job in explaining why so many are attracted to it in this day and age. Persons unfamiliar with Muslim philosophy may have a hard time however, as many of the names and terms are alien to most. However, he does well in reporting on the histories, so that makes it easier to understand. Though he doesn’t say it expressly, a lot of Salafism’s present day power has to do with mass media. In Ataturk’s time, most Arabic-speakers were illiterate, and few in the Middle East would’ve owned a radio. News didn’t spread as it does today, with Arab radio, television, internet, and the famous Al-Jazera network.