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Radical Islam

Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, Enlarged Edition

Emmanuel Sivan
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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    Radical Islam
    Book Description:

    In recent years radical fundamentalists have had a formidable intellectual and social impact on Sunni Islam countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. This highly acclaimed book by an eminent Arabist focuses on the development of Sunni Muslim fundamentalism, discussing how it rejected Western values, broke with pan-Arabism, and took on an activist political position. This enlarged edition contains a new chapter, "In the Shadow of Khomeini," which considers the growth and influences of Shi'ite radicalism since the Iranian Revolution, reviews the principal areas of controversy between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, and assesses whether rapprochement between the two groups is likely.Review of the earlier edition:"Sivan . . . not only introduces Western readers to scores of important but little-known contemporary Islamic thinkers, . . . He also breaks new ground in his analysis of their work and activities."-Shaul Bakhash,Wilson Quarterly"A gem of a small book. . . . Sivan writes clearly, dispassionately, and with enviable command of his subject. His book makes a large and almost entirely new body of information available."-Daniel Pipes,The New Leader"Not just scholars but everyone seriously interested in the contemporary Middle East is in Sivan's debt."-G.H. Jansen,Los Angeles Times"This study by Emmanuel Sivan is exceptional; it is professional, insightful, and persuasive. . . . A well-informed interpretation of recent events based directly on relevant Arabic writings."-Michael W. Dols,History"Thorough, thought-provoking, and very instructive."-William M. Brinner,Middle East ReviewEmmanuel Sivan is professor of history at Hebrew University and editor of theJerusalem Quarterly

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16351-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Mood: Doom and Gloom
    (pp. 1-15)

    Let me introduce this essay by discussing the most accessible facet of radical Islam, namely, the mood prevailing among the radicals and their immediate periphery, a mood grounded in a certain reading of the current state of Islam. This reading helped shape the radicals’ worldview and spawn their specific reaction.

    A good period to capture this mood is the last few years of the fourteenth century of the Islamic Era (which ended on November 19, 1979), when Muslim thinkers were given to stocktaking, evaluating the meaning of that century in the annals of Islam. If one were to believe the...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Barbarity and Nationalism
    (pp. 16-49)

    During the last decade a spate of memoirs told the story of Nasser’s political jails. In one of them a former inmate recounts:

    In May 1967, during the crisis weeks preceding the Six-Day War, the authorities tried to enlist the support of the political prisoners to the jihad against Israel. Some [Muslim Brethren] inmates of the notorious Abu Za’bal prison camp resolved to voice their unreserved support and even published a wall newspaper to that effect.

    Yet a group of young inmates, led by Sheikh ‘AH Abduh Isma’il, argued that the State is infidel and so is whoever supports it....

  6. CHAPTER THREE In Quest of Authenticity
    (pp. 50-82)

    The New Radicalism thus represents an evolution of MB radicalism in response to changing circumstances in the Arab world of the 1950s and 1960s with the input of a few ideas coming from the Muslim-Indian frontier of Islam, as interpreted by Qutb, Hawwa, Yakan, Dannawi (of Tripoli, Lebanon), and others.

    The imperative of the new situation has been succinctly put by Yakan: “The demise of parliamentary life and the all-out adhesion of the military dictatorship to secularism enjoins upon the Islamic movement to work out a new strategy which will enable it to operate, develop, and cope with these challenges.”¹...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The Sunni Revolution
    (pp. 83-129)

    Return to politics is, in fact, the radical panacea. Islam has been banned from politics by the forces of modernity, spearheaded by the military regimes, and helped by the age-old pusillanimity of the ulama and the indifference of the modernists (preoccupied as they were by cultural and social questions). Islam should thus return to the political arena. Yet how is this panacea to be put into practice?

    No single answer is provided to this question. The New Radicals are not a monolith, even when one concentrates, as we do here, on a number of core countries in the Middle East....

  8. CHAPTER FIVE The Conservative Periphery
    (pp. 130-152)

    By its very nature a counter-society requires a certain periphery, a sort of indeterminate area around it, which enables it to maintain ties with society as a whole and serves as a channel for recruiting sympathizers, and ultimately adherents, with varying degrees of commitment. Students of Communist parties, the quintessential counter-societies, thus endeavored to delineate the “outer circles” made of the readers of the Communist party press, trade-union members, Communist party voters. Unlike the cadres and party members of the “inner circles”—they too with varying degrees of commitment—the periphery inhabitants do not let the Faith (in that case,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Assessment by the Left
    (pp. 153-180)

    All through the preceding chapters, one could watch how the radicals operate as social commentators, adding insights to our understanding of the Middle East. They certainly sharpen our perceptions of the watershed mark in Middle Eastern history set by the establishment of their major enemy, the military nation-state. They help us to understand the decline and fall of Pan-Arabism, the “revolution of rising expectations” in the 1970s, the role of the electronic media. The constraints under which social scientists conduct research in the Middle East make their contribution all the more precious, especially as on some issues (for example, the...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN In the Shadow of Khomeini
    (pp. 181-208)

    One may have remarked that little was said in the preceding six chapters about the impact of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. That is because Sunni radicalism, the subject of this book, was almost fully developed long before the Shi’ite ayatollahs’ rise to power. Its evolution was entirely autonomous, endogenous to the specific conditions of major Arab countries, and occurred as a response of the faithful of the Sunna, guided by the tenets of their age-old outlook. One can detect no Iranian Shi’ite influence on Sunni radicalism in the quarter-century between the appearance of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas in the 1950s and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-232)
  12. Index
    (pp. 233-238)