Magazine article New Internationalist

[Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats & the New Politics of Islam]

Magazine article New Internationalist

[Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats & the New Politics of Islam]

Article excerpt

Legacy of the Prophet:

Despots, Democrats, and the New Politics of Islam

by Anthony Shadid

(Westview Press ISBN 8133 3779 8)

It goes almost without saying that the prevalent Western notion of political Islam is of an ideology that is repressive, violent and narrow-minded. For Anthony Shadid, a US Associated Press journalist with Arab roots, this view needs redressing. Not that he has a particular political axe to grind - he just wants to move beyond hysteria.

In Legacy of the Prophet Shadid resists the temptation of presenting two types of Islam: faith defined by 'the need for generosity and justice' on the one hand and the menacing reality of the Taliban or suicide bombers on the other. Rather, he explores the links between them. Shadid's in-depth knowledge of the region - he has travelled extensively and lived in Cairo for five years - lends validity to his attempt. Through a mixture of interview, reportage, anecdote and biography, he transports us from a temporary army base in Afghanistan to the Saudi Arabia of Osama bin Laden's privileged childhood; from the Hamas headquarters in Palestine to the Iran of the Ayatollah Khomeini. …

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