Archive for April 9th, 2013

Knowing the Enemy Jihadist

Purchase: Amazon

A good book, no wonder it’s published by Yale University Press. Few books out there actually examine the theology of radical Jihadists like the way this one did. In the beginning of the book the author argue that some of the West’s attempt at understanding Al Qaeda and 9/11 in purely economic, colonial and political terms fail to do justice in explaining the rationale and motivation of Al Qaeda and similar Jihadist organizations. For instance such narratives have a hard time accounting for the fact that significant numbers of these Jihadists are well-educated and come from well-to-do families. Moreover, the author makes the point that the rise of Islamists’ ideology began before European colonization of Islamic land and even in areas which European colonization never reach. Mary Habeck also note that such narrative by the West tend to ignore what the Jihadists themselves are saying, which reveal more about the West than they do concerning the Jihadists: the West often presuppose that the religious sphere is not important and again this ignores what the Jihadists themselves are saying. This work deals with the ideological roots of the modern Jihadist movement beyond the typical presentation of Muhammad’s imperialism. The auther writes about Wahabism (the kind of Sunni Muslim Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda subscribe to) and it’s founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. I like how the book is so detailed about historical Islamic legal reasoning. Readers will be introduced to important historical contributors to the modern Jihadist ideology, such as Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal. These men who lived hundreds of years ago, wrote about jihad including it’s goals and method. Readers will suddenly realize that a lot of the motif in current Jihadist literatures came from these earlier theologians and scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. I appreciated the author’s ability to show us the thinking of the jihadist which no doubt would seem so foreign to many. For instance, Osama Bin Laden and others believed that the Crusades never ended, that modernism in the West is a deliberate poison the West wants to introduce to Islamic land for the soul purpose of destroying Islam. The book also talk about contemporary Islamists and Jihadists. Most frightening in the book is how Jihadists have a plan for global dominion for all to be under Islam and the debate among themselves and in the past with Muslim scholars is whom to attack first: the infidels from afar, “false Muslims” (and what constitute a false Muslim is also another fascinating debate) or the leaders of Islamic countries today (they wish to unite under one world empire under the Caliph)? While the book was written before Arab Spring, one can’t help it but to see some of the policies in these new government seem to be advancing an agenda that’s in step with the vision and plan (such as increasing pressure on non-Muslim, etc). Must read book, I totally recommend it.

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