A Fury for God: The Islamist Attack on America

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In A Fury for God, Malise Ruthven, a renowned scholar of Islamic history and Middle Eastern affairs, traces the religious and intellectual background behind the terrorist attacks on the United States. They were carried out, he argues, by men steeped in "Islamist" ideology: an amalgam of traditional Islamic concepts such as "jihad" and extremist ideas adapted from European leftism, fascism and anarchism. Ruthven investigates the hijackers' motives, particularly those of their leader, Mohammed Atta -- a figure ...
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Overview

In A Fury for God, Malise Ruthven, a renowned scholar of Islamic history and Middle Eastern affairs, traces the religious and intellectual background behind the terrorist attacks on the United States. They were carried out, he argues, by men steeped in "Islamist" ideology: an amalgam of traditional Islamic concepts such as "jihad" and extremist ideas adapted from European leftism, fascism and anarchism. Ruthven investigates the hijackers' motives, particularly those of their leader, Mohammed Atta -- a figure troubled, like many of his contemporaries, by the clash between Islamic and Western values, including unresolved conflicts over gender and sexuality. It would be a mistake, Ruthven insists, to treat these men as medieval fanatics: their attitude to modernity is dangerous and ambivalent.

In a challenging analysis, the author exposes the crucial importance of the Saudi Arabian connection: it is an authoritarian regime responsible for the massive sponsorship of "fundamentalism"; the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, head of al-Qa'ida; and the home of fifteen of the hijackers. At the same time, Saudi Arabia remains America's closest ally in the Arab world, armed and tolerated for its oil. Though Ruthven rejects the thesis that the Western and Islamic worlds are heading inevitably for a clash between "civilizations," he concludes by suggesting that if left unchecked, pressures from religious fundamentalists (both Christian and Jewish) in the United States and Israel, added to the religious forces at work in the Muslim world, might well conspire to produce just such an outcome.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Much in this book will, as the author admits, be familiar the events of September 11, the idea of jihad but former BBC journalist and scholar Ruthven is worth reading for the occasional stunning insight he offers into the psychology underlying terrorism by drawing on less well-known scholarship. He asserts, for instance, that the motivations of suicide attackers are not naive faith or "Islamic heroism, but... Nietzschean despair" a frustration with the world's refusal to conform to the right path laid down by God. (Sept. 26) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781862075405
  • Publisher: Granta Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Glossary
1 September 11th 1
2 Jihad 44
3 The Aesthetics of Martyrdom 72
4 A Fury for God 99
5 Cultural Schizophrenia 134
6 The Seeds of Terror 169
7 Jihad in America 201
8 A Clash of Civilizations? 240
Notes 292
Index 313
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