Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden

Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden

Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden

Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden

Synopsis

"This text, written by an American scholar, highlights one of the lesser-known aspects of Islam called Mahdism, which centers belief on a "rightly guided one" who will at some point return to earth to rally Muslims and make the world right. This belief is powerful and potentially dangerous, and deserves the attention it receives in this volume. Before September 11, 2001, most Western Scholars of Islam ignored Mahdism, dismissing it as a relic of Muslim history. However, today it is nearly impossible to ignore the topic, as we have seen first-hand the ways in which religious beliefs can lead to violent acts of terrorism. The Mahdist movement's very aim is to re-order global society into a Muslim community - a cause for which many would gladly fight and give up their lives. This book serves as a guide to this aspect of Islam." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Every year the world grows smaller. the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks illustrate how the West is no longer immune from radical movements and ideologies that arise across oceans, in desert tents and mountain schools thousands of miles away. Islamic history is long and rich. the first schisms developed over succession disputes in the wake of the prophet Muhammad's death. Division begat division as theological movements fractured, coalesced, and reinterpreted Islamic doctrine.

Over the course of centuries few theological movements have provoked as much violent reaction and counterreaction in Islamic societies as have Mahdist movements. From India to Tunisia, every few generations an individual lifts a banner and claims that he is the Mahdi, the figure who will usher in divine government and just rule. Some Mahdis lead only rag-tag bands of followers, and others command large armies. Today would-be Mahdis command networks of terrorists who use the Internet and threaten society at large.

Too many academics indulge in the luxury of political correctness. With a wave of the hand, they can dismiss the uncomfortable notion of a clash of civilizations. True, many citizens in the Islamic world want nothing better than to enjoy liberty, freedom, and democracy. But as Timothy Furnish rightfully points out, within Islamist and, more specifically, Mahdist discourse, [Christian powers] and the United States are interminable foes. Perhaps they are at the fringe of Islamic discourse, but with massacres of schoolchildren in Russia, assassinations in the Netherlands, and the murder of morning commuters in Madrid, it is imperative to study problems rather than wish them away.

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