The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy


Not since the Crusades of the Middle Ages has Islam evoked the degree of fear, hostility, and ethnic and religious stereotyping that is evident throughout Western culture today. As conflicts continue to proliferate around the globe, the perception of a colossal, unyielding, and unavoidable struggle between Islam and the West has intensified. These numerous conflicts, both actual and ideological, have revived fears of an ongoing "clash of civilizations" -- an intractable and irreconcilable conflict of values between Western cultures and an Islam that is portrayed as hostile and alien.

The New Crusades takes head-on the idea of an emergent "Cold War" between Islam and the West. It explores the historical, political, and institutional forces that have raised the specter of a threatening and monolithic Muslim enemy and provides a nuanced critique of much received wisdom on the topic, particularly the "clash of civilizations" theory. Bringing together twelve of the most influential thinkers in Middle Eastern and religious studies -- including Edward Said, Roy Mottahedeh, and Fatema Mernissi -- this timely collection confronts such depictions of the Arab-Islamic world, showing their inner workings and how they both empower and shield from scrutiny Islamic radicals who operate from similar paradigms of inevitable and absolute conflict.


Emran Qureshi

This book is dedicated to the living memory of Eqbal Ahmad (1933–1999). Eqbal Ahmad nurtured this book project: guiding it, encouraging it, and contributing to it immeasurably over a five-year period. It is only fitting that his contribution be suitably acknowledged. This preface is thus intended to be a tribute to Eqbal Ahmad, a brief tribute, but one that nevertheless attempts to outline his contributions to this book project and, more important, to briefly sketch the contours of his political thought.

Eqbal Ahmad was among the most original political thinkers on the Middle East and South Asia. Eqbal Ahmad's writings consist of weekly commentaries on third world societies. Regrettably, he is known primarily as a journalist. Many of his political ideas are submerged within his journalistic writings. Within these weekly commentaries he wrote extensively on the pathologies of state and society in the Arab-Islamic world. Woven through these commentaries is a coherent set of political beliefs about third world societies and the ills that afflict them. Together, these commentaries draw a powerful, penetrating portrait of third world societies in a near permanent state of crisis.

At first blush, it is difficult to categorize the political ideas of Eqbal Ahmad. His work is evocative of the theories of Hannah Arendt and Antonio Gramsci. Like Hannah Arendt, Eqbal Ahmad examined the crucial political events of the day and, like Gramsci, he was an organically connected intellectual. He defined his politics in an interview as “socialist and democratic” and “by democratic I mean [a] genuine commitment to equality, freedom of association, to critical thought and to accountability of rulers to citizens”

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