Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam

Product Description
The late 20th century saw the emergence of an unexpected and extraordinary phenomenon, culminating in a devastating onslaught in the West in 2001: Islamist political movements. Beginning in the early 1970s, militants revolted against the regimes in power across the Muslim world and exacerbated political conflicts internationally. Their jihad or ‘Holy Struggle’ – aimed to establish a global Islamic state based solely on a strict interpretation of the Qur’an. Religious ideology proved a cohesive force, gathering followers from the young urban poor to middle class professionals and students. After an initial triumph with the Islamic revolution in Iran, the movement waged jihad against the USSR in Afghanistan, proclaiming a doctrine of extreme violence for the first time. By the end of the 1990s, the failure to seize political power elsewhere led to a split: moderates developed new concepts of ‘Muslim democracy’ while extremists resorted to large-scale terrorist attacks around the world, beginning with the unprecedented hijackings and biological attacks on the US in 2001. Jihad is the first comprehensive attempt to follow the history and spread of this new political-religious phenomenon. Kepel has travelled throughout the Muslim world gathering documents, interviews, and archival materials inaccessible to most scholars, in order to provide a full understanding of the scope of Islamist movements, their past, their present and their future direction. As we confront the escalated threat of terrorism, Gilles Kepel helps us make sense of the ominous reality of jihad today.Amazon.com Review
Gilles Kepel’s Jihad is an intense, detailed examination of the militant Islamist movement over the last quarter-century. Kepel divides his book into two parts–“Expansion” and “Decline”–and posits that the September 11, 2001, attacks, rather than demonstrating “strength and irrepressible might,” highlighted the “isolation” and “fragmentation” of a “faltering” and probably doomed extremist ideology. Kepel follows Islamism from its theoretical underpinnings in the late 1960s and its rapid expansion into Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia, through the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan and beyond. He explains Islamism’s attractions, and outlines its severe shortcomings. With consummate skill, he illuminates the bewilderingly intricate effects global events (oil prices, the fall of Communism) have had on internal politics of individual countries, and vice versa. Kepel, wisely, refuses to prognosticate. Instead, his achievement is in providing–for the determined reader–a deeply authoritative context for the seemingly inexplicable events of the recent past. –H. O’Billovich

Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam