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Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam Paperback – November 13, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is invaluable for understanding both the variety of traditions in Islam concerning Jihad, a term which means, simply, "struggle", and not, as many in the US imagine, something akin to "war". This "struggle" is most often, as Esposito explains, spiritual than military, and he is outstanding at showing the wide variety of views concerning the forms "jihad" can take. Even for those who believe in a military "jihad" Esposito demonstrates that there are many viewpoints. He is also superb at integrating these varying understandings with the origins of Islam. One of his great achievements is in showing that just as there is enormous diversity in Christianity (just compare the beliefs of Anglicans, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Roman Catholics, Russian Orthodoxy, Pentecostals, Unitarians, Jehovah Witnesses, and Presbyterians, to take merely a few Christian traditions, and the point is grasped), so also there is a vast amount of diversity in Islamic belief. He points out that the vast majority of Muslims do not countenance violence against innocent civilians. The focus, however, of this book is on that minority that embraces violence.
Esposito discusses not only traditional Islamic teachings on Jihad and the relations of Islam with non-Islamic individuals and countries, but also 20th century thinkers and activists. This was the part of the book I found most helpful.Read more ›
For in the second chapter the author seems to regain his composure when he constructs a genealogy of the Islamic Jihad doctrine. The reader is guided through the earliest time of Islam, via the lone medieval figure of Ibn Taymiyya and the 18th-century revivalist Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, to three exponents of modern-day Islamic reformism: the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, the Pakistani writer-activist Maulana al-Mawdudi, and the chief ideologist of Islamic radicalism, Sayyid Qutb.
As this chapter only gives a brief account of the development of the Jihad concept, there are certain unavoidable generalizations. Unfortunately the depiction given of Shi'ism is somewhat simplistic. However, with this historical account Esposito makes the less-informed reader aware of the fact that the past is of great importance for giving meaning and guidance to Muslim identity.
Crucial in this section of the book is the underscoring of the fact that Muslims disagree among themselves about the exact meaning of Jihad. The fact that until to date the United States government judged Islam's holy and unholy warriors by their goals is another excellent observation.Read more ›
Most pertinent, however, given the contemporary world's fixation on terrorism, is Esposito's exploration of the supposed theological foundations of terrorist activity within Islam, especially his description of the fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam exported from Saudi Arabia. Esposito posits that the association of Wahhabism with terrorist groups often has been exaggerated by governments (especially those in Central Asia) to deflect attention from their "failed economies, corruption, and self-interested power holders," and that this "blanket use of Wahhabi to describe militant jihad groups obscures more than it enlightens" (p. 111). What Esposito inserts in place of a direct connection between Wahhabism and terrorism are "unintended consequences" in the institutionalization of Wahhabi Islam, "as witnessed by the Taliban bin Laden alliance and jihadi madrasas" (p. 111).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Allah's holy Law of War is in fact the most important religious duty in Islam, obligatory for all Muslims. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jennifer
We have many opinions about Islam bombarding us in the media everyday. Unfortunately, few of those come from people as knowledgeable as Professor Esposito. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John Colledge
Good reading for background on Islam. Lots of information, can be confusing at time. A must-read for understanding Islam in the modern world.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
There was an abject failure to address the Canonical books of the Hadith, which reveal the way the prophet lived his life, how he planned early on to invade Europe and what he... Read morePublished 6 months ago by vincent Perrotta
Eposito provides a concise, well written, introduction into the world of politics regarding the Islamic world. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Wyatt