Synopses & Reviews
From reviews of the first edition:
"A rare combination of insightful analysis and accessibility for the general reader. I recommend it." and#151;Glenn Robinson, author of Building a Palestinian State: The Incomplete Revolution
"Kamrava provides an in-depth analysis of not just political history but also a variety of other issues that have plagued this part of the world for so many years and continue to remain unresolved for years to come."and#151;Mahmood Monshipouri, author of Islamism, Secularism, and Human Rights in the Middle East
"This is an ambitious, stimulating book that synthesizes a broad range of literature on Middle East history and politics. The author analyzes many important issues in the region, emphasizing the challenges countries face in overcoming historical legacies, developing accountable leadership, recovering from conflict, and developing productive economies."and#151;Bradford Dillman, author of State and Private Sector in Algeria: The Politics of Rent-Seeking and Failed Development
"At a time when sensational books on the Middle East fill the market, this is a serious and sober contribution that will help the students and lay people alike. The author approaches the highly charged emotional issues of the Middle East with sensitivity and objectivity. Kamrava should be commended for a very useful and highly needed book."and#151;Asad AbuKhalil, author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power
"Mehran Kamrava has written a very well-researched, accessible, and up to date book. His themes are well chosen; his analysis is cogent and lucid. It is a welcome addition to the literature on Middle East politics."and#151;Manochehr Dorraj, author of Middle East at the Crossroads
“Stands out in its ability to extend readers awareness of the breadth of Muslim writing about the topic.”
and#8220;Khalidand#8217;s work is an important contribution to an understanding of the increasingly plural character of Islamic societies and how political Islam should be understood in particular regional and societal contexts.and#8221;
and#8220;Clear and well-researched. . . . Khalidand#8217;s book is a very helpful aid in understanding the complexities of todayand#8217;s Central Asia.and#8221;
First published in 2005, Understanding Jihad
unravels the tangled historical, intellectual, and political meanings of jihad
within the context of Islamic life. In this revised and expanded second edition, author David Cook has included new material in light of pivotal developments such as the extraordinary events of the Arab Spring, the death of Usama b. Ladin, and the rise of new Islamic factions such as ISIS.
Jihad is one of the most loaded and misunderstood terms in the news today. Contrary to popular understanding, the term does not mean "holy war." Nor does it simply refer to an inner spiritual struggle. This judiciously balanced, accessibly written, and highly relevant book looks closely at a range of sources from sacred Islamic texts to modern interpretations, opening a critically important perspective on the role of Islam in the contemporary world.
David Cook cites from scriptural, legal, and newly translated texts to give readers insight into the often ambiguous information that is used to construct Islamic doctrine. He sheds light on legal developments relevant to fighting and warfare and places the internal, spiritual jihad within the larger context of Islamic religion. He describes some of the conflicts that occur in radical groups and shows how the more mainstream supporters of these groups have come to understand and justify violence. He has also included a special appendix of relevant documents including materials related to the September 11 attacks and published manifestos issued by Usama b. Ladin and Palestinian suicide-martyrs.
Since it was first published in 2006, this concise overview of the making of the contemporary Middle East has become essential reading for students and general readers who want to gain a better understanding of this diverse region. Writing for a wide audience, Mehran Kamrava takes us from fall of the Ottoman Empire to today, exploring along the way such central issues as the dynamics of economic development, authoritarian endurance, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. For this new, thoroughly revised edition, he has brought the book fully up to date by incorporating events and issues of the past few years. The Modern Middle East now includes information about the June 2009 Iranian presidential elections and their aftermath, changes precipitated so far by the Obama administration, Israeland#8217;s attack on Gaza in 2008, the effects of globalization on economic development, and more.
“Among the plethora of books on jihad published since 9/11, David Cook’s stands out in its ability to extend readers’ awareness of the breadth of Muslim writing about the topic.”—International Journal of Middle East Studies
"Understanding Jihad is one of the most helpful of the spate of new books to appear since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, on the debate about jihad in Islam. Cook's approach is based on historical and textual analyses, and is enhanced by valuable theoretical discussion. This book will help readers find their way through the vast literature by Muslims and non-Muslim scholars on what we can't seem to get away from calling 'holy war.'"—Richard C. Martin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Emory University
"This book is important to current political and religious discourse on the role of Islam in today's world and increases our understanding of the seemingly odd behaviors we observe through the media. A tremendous contribution."—Reuven Firestone, author of Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam
Adeeb Khalid combines insights from the study of both Islam and Soviet history in this sophisticated analysis of the ways that Muslim societies in Central Asia have been transformed by the Soviet presence in the region. Arguing that the utopian Bolshevik project of remaking the world featured a sustained assault on Islam that destroyed patterns of Islamic learning and thoroughly de-Islamized public life, Khalid demonstrates that Islam became synonymous with tradition and was subordinated to powerful ethnonational identities that crystallized during the Soviet period. He shows how this legacy endures today and how, for the vast majority of the population, a return to Islam means the recovery of traditions destroyed under Communism.
Islam after Communism reasons that the fear of a rampant radical Islam that dominates both Western thought and many of Central Asiaand#8217;s governments should be tempered by an understanding of the politics of antiterrorism, which allows governments to justify their own authoritarian policies by casting all opposition as extremist. Comparing the secularization of Islam in Central Asia to experiences in Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and other secular Muslim states, the author lays the groundwork for a nuanced and well-informed discussion of the forces at work in this crucial region.
"I know of no competing work that comes close to covering this material. Khalid's nuanced and sophisticated analysis offers superior treatment of the diversity of Muslim societies and the history of Islamic thought in Central Asia. America is heavily involved in this region, and this book is a powerful reminder of the possible costs of unthinking U.S. support of current regimesand#151;it should be required reading for American politicians and concerned citizens."and#151;Carl Ernst, author of Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
About the Author
Mehran Kamrava is Interim Dean of Georgetown Universityand#8217;s School of Foreign Service in Qatar and also the Director of the School's Center for International and Regional Studies. He is the author, most recently, of Iran's Intellectual Revolution. He has also edited The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity, and Innovation in Islam: Traditions and Contributions (both by UC Press).
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Qur an and Conquest
2. The Greater Jihad” and the Lesser Jihad”
3. The Crystallization of Jihad Theory: Crusade and Counter-Crusade
4. Jihad during the Nineteenth Century: Renewal and Resistance
5. Radical Islam and Contemporary Jihad Theory
6. Globalist Radical Islam and Martyrdom Operations
7. The Rise of Jihadi States
Appendix: Some Translated Documents
Communiqué from the Armed Islamic Group (Algeria; September 8, 1995)
World Islamic Front for Jihad against Zionists and Crusaders: Declaration of War (February 23, 1998)
A Communiqué from Qa Idat Al-Jihad Concerning the Testaments of the Heroes and the Legality of the Washington and New York Operations (April 24, 2002)
The Importance of Jihad, on the Goals of Jihad (by Ali al-Aliyani)
Under the Shadow of the Spears (by Sulayman Abu Ghayth)
Translation of The Last Night”
Our Sharii Stance with Regard to the Government of the Iraqi Karzai” (by Abu Musab al-Zasqawi¯)
Proclamation of the Caliphate” (by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, June 29, 2014)
The Revival of Slavery before the Hour (from Dabiq, October 14, 2014)