Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

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Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002 - Political Science - 454 pages
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The late twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of an unexpected and extraordinary phenomenon: Islamist political movements. Beginning in the early 1970s, militants revolted against the regimes in power throughout the Muslim world and exacerbated political conflicts everywhere. Their jihad, or "Holy Struggle," aimed to establish a global Islamic state based solely on a strict interpretation of the Koran. Religious ideology proved a cohesive force, gathering followers ranging from students and the young urban poor to middle-class professionals.

After an initial triumph with the Islamic revolution in Iran, the movement waged jihad against the USSR in Afghanistan, proclaiming for the first time a doctrine of extreme violence. By the end of the 1990s, the failure to seize political power elsewhere led to a split: movement moderates developed new concepts of "Muslim democracy" while extremists resorted to large-scale terrorist attacks around the world.

Jihad is the first extensive, in-depth attempt to follow the history and geography of this disturbing political-religious phenomenon. Fluent in Arabic, Kepel has traveled throughout the Muslim world gathering documents, interviews, and archival materials inaccessible to most scholars, in order to give us a comprehensive understanding of the scope of Islamist movements, their past, and their present. As we confront the threat of terrorism to our lives and liberties, Gilles Kepel helps us make sense of the ominous reality of jihad today.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gmicksmith - LibraryThing

The interesting thesis of Kepel is not the success, but rather the failure of, jihadist Islam. Kepel explains in a straightforward manner how political Islam has failed and jihadistic efforts are an ... Read full review

Jihad: the trail of political Islam

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The rise since the 1970s of political Islam and its revolutionary message has received ample coverage in popular and scholarly writings in the West. Aside from journalistic reporting, much of it by ... Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Gilles Kepel is a researcher at the CNRS and teaches at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. He is the author of Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh (1986).

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