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

By M. J. Akbar | Go to book overview

PREFACE

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

-xiii-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • 1 - Chapter and Verse 1
  • 2 - The Joys of Death: a Bargain with Allah 12
  • 3 - Rebellions in the Dark of the Night 26
  • 4 - A Map of Islam 40
  • 5 - Circle of Hell 52
  • 6 - Allah! Muhammad! Saladin! 67
  • 7 - The Doors of Europe 83
  • 8 - Jihad in the East: a Crescent Over Delhi 99
  • 9 - The Holy Sea: Pepper and Power 113
  • 10 - The Bargain Goes Sour 131
  • 11 - The Wedge and the Gate 145
  • 12 - History as Anger, Jihad as Non-Violence 160
  • 13 - Islam in Danger Zone 177
  • 14 - Jinnah Redux and the Age of Osama 189
  • Glossary 214
  • A Suggested Reading List 218
  • Thumbnail Sketches 228
  • Index 251
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