Academic journal article
By AbuKhalil, As'ad
The Middle East Journal , Vol. 58, No. 1
"The Islam Industry" and Scholarship
The Future of Political Islam, by Graham E. Fuller. New York: Palgrave, 2003. xix + 213 pages. Notes to p. 220. Index to p. 227. $29.95.
Face to Face with Political Islam, by Francois Burgat. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2003. xvii + 185 pages. Notes to p. 222. Index to p. 230. $55 cloth; $22.50 paper.
The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, by Bernard Lewis. New York: The Modern Library, 2003. xxxii + 165 pages. Notes to p. 171. Index to p. 184. $29.95 cloth; $12.95 paper.
What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, by Bernard Lewis. New York and Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. 161 pages. Notes to p. 172. Index to p. 180. $23 cloth; $12.95 paper.
Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World's Fastest-growing Faith, by Robert Spencer. San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2002. xiii + 177 pages. Notes to p.202. Index to p. 214. $24.95.
Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West, by Robert Spencer. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2003. xiii + 304 pages. Notes to p. 336. Index to p. 352. $27.95.
What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary, by Ibn Warraq. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002. 744 pages. Appends, to p. 782. $36.
The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, ed. and trans. by Ibn Warraq. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000. 526 pages. Map. Gloss, to p. 534. Abbrevs. to p. 536. Dramatic personae to p. 545. Table to p. 546. Chron. to p. 550. $37.
Terror and Liberalism, by Paul Berman. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. 216 pages. $21 cloth; $10.95 paper.
The body of literature on the subject of Islam by policy makers, journalists, and even tourists and travelers has overwhelmed the market. We now have an Islam industry - a popular and political culture that encourages the production of books, articles, and movies that deal with Islam and the Middle East. This production is closely tied (through financing and through ideological affinity) with the prevalent trends about Islam in the United States. The Islam industry features the works of Middle East and Islam experts at US universities who have revived the classical Orientalist approach, as well as of a swarm of untrained newcomers whose primary qualifications appear to be their ideological orientations and religious zealotry. September 11th has only increased the rate of production of sensational works that promise to reveal the true evil intentions of Muslims and Islam. Scholarly works receive less attention; and the public seems eager to consume books and articles that contain the persistent dogmas and recycled cliches of classical Orientalism, or of the production of the terrorism industry.
Given this disturbing trend, one does not normally look forward to reviewing new books on Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. But The Future of Political Islam by Graham E. Fuller and Face to Face with Islam by Francois Burgat are, refreshingly, the exceptions to the rule. Both authors are experienced scholars who are trained in Middle East studies, and who have traveled to the region for decades. Graham Fuller, who used to work in the US intelligence community, has been warning about the consequences of US foreign policy for years, and Francois Burgat, prior to having produced the book under review, had written an outstanding study of Islamic movements in North Africa, I'islamisme au Maghreb (Karthala, 1986). Both authors read and speak Arabic and have, especially Burgat, interviewed scores of Islamic activities and leaders.Fuller writes a book with analytic categories and concepts. Thus, the reader is spared the frequently-told chronological accounts of Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and others, though the book could have been better organized so that themes and concepts do not overlap. Fuller makes many sensible points that are often left out of US policy debates, and sometimes out of academic debates as well. …