The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity

The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity


The Shade of Swords is the first cohesive history of Jihad, written by one of India's leading journalists and writers. In this paperback edition, updated to show how and why Saddam Hussein repositioned himself as a Jihadi against America, M.J. Akbar explains the struggle between Islam and Christianity. Placing recent events in a historical context, he tackles the tricky question of what now for Jihad following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.With British and American troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and once again in Iraq, the potential for Jihadi recruitment is ever increasing. Explaining how Jihad thrives on complex and shifting notions of persecution, victory and sacrifice, and illustrating how Muslims themselves have historically tried both to direct and control the phenomenon of Jihad, Akbar shows how Jihad pervades the mind and soul of Islam, revealing its strength and significance.To know the future, one needs to understand the past. M.J. Akbar's The Shade of Swords holds the key.


In its traditional end-December view-and-review issue, The Economist closed the startling year 2001 with a cartoon in which a beleaguered Father Time passed on the world to a less-than-chirpy Child Time. Two parts of this globe were in flames: the Middle East and South Asia, the epicentre of the second conflagration being the contiguous region of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir in India.

While the war between Israel and her Arab neighbours has been a staple of books, journalism, and even fiction, the tensions of South Asia are neither familiar nor fully understood. Yet it is in Pakistan and Afghanistan that American and European troops have landed to fight a jihad launched against the Christian West, with the United States as its primary target. This is no accident, but the culmination of a long process. American troops will stay here longer than they expect. Kabul has always fallen without a fight, as it did in 1838, 1879, 1978, and 2001. Equally, it has always been easier to enter Kabul than to leave it.

How did Pakistan become the breeding ground for, in the words of an architect of the idea, Lt. Gen. Hameed Gul, the ‘first Islamic international brigade in the modern era’? How was Pakistan swamped by the Kalashnikov and jihad culture, terms used in a national broadcast by a man seeking to change it, President Pervez Musharraf? How did Osama bin Laden find refuge and opportunity in this culture? the answers lie in the sources of anger, for this is a war being fought in the mind as much as anywhere else.

We tend to define war in terms of nations, interests, and uniformed armies. This jihad is also a proxy war, fought by elliptical strategies, through irregular armies. To define this singular aspect of one Islamic response to

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