Monday, August 29, 2011

Five books on Islamic militancy

Jason Burke is a British journalist and the author of several non-fiction books. Lee Konstantinou called Burke’s Al-Qaeda" a really eye-opening look at how the terrorist organization was born and how it really operates."

At The Browser, he discussed five books on Islamic militancy with Daisy Banks, including:
A Fury for God
by Malise Ruthven

Next up is A Fury For God, by Malise Ruthven, which explores the whole question of modernity and Islam.

Malise Ruthven is one of the grand writers on the Islamic world and on Islam. He also wrote The Islamic World, which is a classic, and I was thinking about choosing that. But A Fury for God is a book that I learnt an awful lot from. Often with books it is what they bring to you. What Ruthven was saying in 2002 immediately after 9/11 has been said and re-said many times since. I read this book in northern Iraq in 2002 and it taught me an enormous amount about the complexity of the engagement in many societies that have a strong Muslim identity with what in the West we know as “modernity”.

He is very good on Sayyid Qutb, a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic activist and ideologue in the 1950s and 1960s and one of the foundational authors of modern militant Islam. He explores Qutb’s reaction to what he saw as the licentiousness and the moral degradation of the West. The book is very good at explaining how Islamic militants view the West, particularly on the moral side of things.

And it also explores their frustration with the West’s refusal to conform to what they see as the right path.

It more about how they see it as a threat to their own society, and how the answer to that threat is to return to the fundamentals of religion as they interpret it.
Read about another of Burke's picks.

--Marshal Zeringue