Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity

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Cornell University Press, 2005 - History - 184 pages
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What are the motives behind Osama bin Laden's and Al-Qaeda's jihad against America and the West? Innumerable attempts have been made in recent years to explain that mysterious worldview. In Landscapes of the Jihad, Faisal Devji focuses on the ethical content of this jihad as opposed to its purported political intent. Al-Qaeda differs radically from such groups as Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah, which aim to establish fundamentalist Islamic states. In fact, Devji contends, Al-Qaeda, with its decentralized structure and emphasis on moral rather than political action, actually has more in common with multinational corporations, antiglobalization activists, and environmentalist and social justice organizations. Bin Laden and his lieutenants view their cause as a response to the oppressive conditions faced by the Muslim world rather than an Islamist attempt to build states.

Al-Qaeda culls diverse symbols and fragments from Islam's past in order to legitimize its global war against the "metaphysical evil" emanating from the West. The most salient example of this assemblage, Devji argues, is the concept of jihad itself, which Al-Qaeda defines as an "individual duty" incumbent on all Muslims, like prayer. Although medieval Islamic thought provides precedent for this interpretation, Al-Qaeda has deftly separated the stipulation from its institutional moorings and turned jihad into a weapon of spiritual conflict. Al-Qaeda and its jihad, Devji suggests, are only the most visible manifestations of wider changes in the Muslim world. Such changes include the fragmentation of traditional as well as fundamentalist forms of authority. In the author's view, Al-Qaeda represents a new way of organizing Muslim belief and practice within a global landscape and does not require ideological or institutional unity.

Offering a compelling explanation for the central purpose of Al-Qaeda's jihad against the West, the meaning of its strategies and tactics, and its moral and aesthetic dimensions, Landscapes of the Jihad is at once a sophisticated work of historical and cultural analysis and an invaluable guide to the world's most prominent terrorist movement.

 

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Terrorism: Reality of Invisible Balance of Power
Naveed Ahmed
In his book, Invisible Balance of Power, published in 2005, Sajjad Shaukat has taken present ‘different war’ as an interaction of
‘state terrorism’ led by the United States and the ‘group terrorism’ by the Al Qaeda or Islamic militants. A number of authors have written books about the 9/11 tragedy, but ground realities developed in accordance with the book. After seeing the main title, some people think that the book is against the US-led western allies, but without any prejudice, he has discussed both the sovereign and non-sovereign entities on parallel lines in this research-based book. On the one hand, he pointed out Al Qaeda’s ambush attacks, targeted killings, beheadings etc., while on the other, he mentioned special operations by the US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and CIA-tortures cells in various small countries. In this regard, missile strikes by the drones on Pakistan’s tribal areas and elsewhere amounts to state terrorism, which are being responded by the internal backlash. Shaukat proves that both the warring parties kill innocent civilians through ruthless terror.
Giving references of the power-theorists like Machiavelli, Morgentahu, Kissinger etc., Shaukat has written that power factor or use of force has failed in this different war which took origin from the privileged and unprivileged status quo.
Shaukat introduced new ideas about the issues relating to the Islamic ideology, Jihad, Western World, liberalism, power diplomacy on the Third World by the US-led major countries, globalization, harsh conditions by the IMF and World Bank, causes of suicide attacks etc.
Author’s future observations like a prolonged war, failure of military paradigm by the state actors, increase in US cost of war, more terrorism, failure of NATO in Afghanistan, plane plot in UK, the defeat of Israel in 2006 war by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, international financial crisis, warlike situation between America and Iran, Syria and Israel including other developments like Israeli attacks on Palestinians, similar forms of state terrorism in the Indian-held Kashmir, occupation of Iraq’s areas by the Jihadists-ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) proved correct.
Indicating the failure of coercive diplomacy, the author also predicted that that in case of a protracted war with the insurgents, the US bargaining leverage would reduce on small countries. It happens so, as North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Turkey have rejected American undue pressure on a number of issues and matters. Besides, Russia and China have stood together to cope with the US-dominated world order, and now, strongly favour a multi-polar world. America’s decision not to attack Syria in 2013 due to Moscow’s stand, and Russian control of Crimea might be cited as example.
Shaukat also gave positive suggestions to the US, but President Obama did not act upon. Therefore, war on terror has resulted into more implications, giving a blow to the larger economies of the US and other developed nations.
Emphasizing the solution of key disputes like Kashmir and Palestine which remains breeding grounds of terrorism, the book suggests that realism (power factor) must be reconciled with idealism, which is essential for world peace and geo-political interests of the US-led developed countries and those of the small countries also by reforming the system of the UN. Shaukat warns that otherwise, “Invisible Balance of Power” will culminate into “clash of civilizations.”
It is due to the present scenario of terrorism—which already pointed out by the author that the publisher reprinted the book after nine years.
Author: Sajjad Shaukat -ISBN, 9690019589
Published by: Ferozsons, 60 Shahrah-i-Quaid-i-Azam, Lahore, Pakistan
Publisher’s Email: support@ferozsons.com.pk
www.@ferozsons.com.pk
 

Selected pages

Contents

Effects without Causes
1
A Democratic History of Holy War
33
Monotheistic Geographies
61
Media and Martyrdom
87
The Death of God
112
New World Order
135
Notes
165
Index
177
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About the author (2005)

Faisal Devji is Assistant Professor of History at the New School University, New York.

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