The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam


The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam brings together the writings of highly influential figures in the field of Islamism in the contemporary Arab world, many of whose writings have never been available before in English.

Addressing the key issues such as human rights, civil society, secularism, globalisation and ummah, and the impact of the West on the modern Arab world, this is the perfect starting point for students and academics ...

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The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam brings together the writings of highly influential figures in the field of Islamism in the contemporary Arab world, many of whose writings have never been available before in English.

Addressing the key issues such as human rights, civil society, secularism, globalisation and ummah, and the impact of the West on the modern Arab world, this is the perfect starting point for students and academics looking to understand 'Political Islam' in contemporary Arab and Muslim societies.

The contributors include such important Islamist thinkers and activists as Abdullah Azzam, central to the spread of Islamism in Afghanistan, Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, a major Shiite figure in contemporary Lebanon and Ahmad Bin Yousuf, a political advisor to Akram Haniyya in Gaza.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Internationally known scholar Ibrahim Abu-Rabi has produced another important contribution to the study of Islamic movements in the modern and contemporary Arab world. The articles in this volume, most of which have been written in the last decade, range over a variety of topics and themes. Numerous and diverse, they provide a fascinating examination of a range of Arab interpretations of Islam and Islamism, including reflections on jihad, Israel/Palestine, and responses to the West since 9/11. Abu-Rabi’s comprehensive introduction provides a cohesive context for these studies. Highly recommended for students of Islamist movements, contemporary political developments in the Middle East, and Islam in general." —Jane Smith, Harvard Divinity School


"Over the last two decades, Ibrahim Abu-Rabì has been a singularly trustworthy source of understanding modern Arab and Islamic intellectual history.  His newly edited reader on contemporary Islamism in the Arab world could not have been timelier, when with every new headline the world is cast into a stupor about Islam, Islamism, and Islamic terrorism, terms increasingly interchangeable in the public domain.  With a clear headed and judicious selection, predicated on an encyclopedic knowledge, Professor Abu-Rabì has opened up a panorama of modern political thought that we scarce knew existed.  The result is an absolutely indispensible compendium on contemporary Islamist movements that no student of current affairs on a global scale can ignore." —Hamid Dabashi, the Author of Islamic Liberation Theology:  Resisting the Empire (2008)


"These essays by the actors and experts of Islamism are the most enlightening documents that  I have ever read.  The ideological and geographic range of the essays' regional and historical settings is unmatched in its richness and analytical depth.  This is a volume which allows major figures of the Islamic movement to take the reader beyond the West's fixation on Qutb and his violent rendition of Islamic thought.  The reader is also aforded an unusual opportunity to appreciate the challenges facing the modern Islamic intelligentsia as it confronts native dictatorial regimes, Western systems of power, and false manifestations of Islamic legitimacy. Additionally, no recent study of Islamic thought has managed to shed  light on the thought of significant but unappreciated figures as Abdullah Azzam and his  impact on the anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan, or Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah's contribution to the development of Shi'i ideology in Lebanon.  But perhaps the greatest contribution of this study will emerge as its ability to demonstrate the intrinsic universalist and particularist features of modern political Islam." —Ghada Hashem Talhami, D. K. Pearsons Professor of Politics, Emerita
Lake Forest College


"Ibrahim Abu-Rabi’, the leading scholar on contemporary Muslim thought, has drawn together the seminal writings on Islamism from across the Arab world. Finally, in one volume, we can engage the foundational and current thinking of a diverse movement that will demand the attention of both scholars and the educated public for many years to come. This book needs to be close at hand for all those working and thinking about the Islamist movement, Political Islam, modern trends in Islam and the Middle East. It is also a companion for scholars, diplomats, religious and civil leaders, who wish to understand the shape of many of the geo-political, civil and religious issues that move like a convulsion thought nations and international political decision making. Most of the essays have been translated into English for the first time and the masterful introductory essay by Professor Abu-Rabi’ is worth the price of the volume on its own."  —David J. Goa, Director, Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion & Public Life, University of Alberta, Canada


"This book presents a needed and valuable worldview of Islamism, as presented by many of its leading thinkers and ideologues. Most of the articles, written during the past ten years, here appear in English for the first time and cover wide-ranging topics. The interpretations are varied and, as put together in one volume, clearly and in a scholarly manner refute the simplistic and often incorrect generalizations about Islam and Islamism that are too often expressed in the Western world. Anyone interested in modern trends in Islam, the Middle East and/or comparative religious movements should read this book." —Norton Mezvinsky, Emeritus Professor of History and President, International Council for Middle East Studies

"This is an excellent collection of recent articles, originally written in Arabic by contemporary Islamist thinkers and never-before-seen by an English-speaking audience. Translated specifically for this volume, these articles provide rich insight into  the recent history and future prospects of the Islamic movement in the Arab world. Among other topics, the book explores the impact on the Islamic movement of the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the emergence of a unipolar New World Order; diversity within the Islamic movement; and relations between Islamism and the West. As well, it offers critical reflections on the contemporary Islamic movement and the ruling political elites in the Arab world. Studded with intellectual gems, this valuable volume will help the serious student of Islam—and of Islam as political discourse—to better understand not only the pluralistic nature of the Islamist movement, but also the complexity of political cross currents and political turmoil in the Arab world." —Baha Abu-Laban, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Alberta

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745328904
  • Publisher: Pluto Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Maryam Panah was born in Iran and is a fluent Farsi speaker. After reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, she completed her doctoral thesis at the London School of Economics. She works in the field of international development, has recently lived in the UK, Belgium and India and is currently based in Berlin.
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Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Editor's Introduction

Part I: Toward a Theoretical Appreciation of Islamism in the Contemporary Arab World

1) Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti, Salafism is a Blessed Historical Phase Rather Than an Islamic Legal School;
2) Fathi Yakan, Toward a Unified and Universal Islamic Movement;
3) Ahmad Kamal Abu’l Majd, Towards a Modern Islamic Perspective Declaration of Principles;
4) Muhammad al-Ghazali, Women Between the People of Hadith and the People of Fiqh;

Part II: Islamism, Jihad, and Martyrdom

5) Abdullah Anas, The Birth of ‘Afghan-Arabs’: An Algerian Perspective;
6) Abdullah Azzam, What Jihad Has Taught Me!
7) Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti, Jihad in Islam: How to Understand and Practice it?
8) Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, Islam and the Question of Power;

Part III. Islamism and the Question of Israel/Palestine

9) Ismail R. Faruqi, Islam and Zionism;
10) Mustafa Abu Sway, From Basel to Oslo: Zionism and the Islamic Narrative;
11) Mohsen Saleh, Palestine/Lebanon], The Role of the Israeli Lobby;

Part IV: Contemporary Islamism: Trends and Self-Criticism

12) Abdul Qadir Awdah, Islam Between Ignorant Followers and Incapable Scholars;
13) Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, The Islamic Movement and the Contemporary Challenges;
14) Umar Abdel Rahman, On the Present Rulers in the Muslim World;
15) Sami al-Arian, The Islamic Movement and Contemporary Crises: An Assessment and Correction;
16) Rashid Ghannoushi, Islamic Movements: Self-Criticism and Reconsideration;
17) Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Islamic Awakening Between Rejection and Extremism;
18) Jamil Hamami, The Islamic Movement: Hopes and Aspirations;

Part V: Islamism, the West, the United States and 9/11

19) Abdel Wahab al-Masiri, Imperialism and the Contemporary Muslim world;
20) Ahmad Bin Yousuf, Islamists and the West: From Confrontation to Cooperation;
21) Munir Shafiq, Islam and the Challenges of Contemporary Decline;
22) Kamal Habib, Transformation of the Islamic Movement and the Current American Strategy;
23) Yasser Za‘atira, The United States and Islamism: Before and After 9/11;
24) Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, Muslim Youth and the West: Between Original and Contemporary Values;

Part VI: Islamism in the Contemporary Arab World

25) Fahd al-Qahtani, Islam and Saudi Paganism;
26) Muhammad al-Masa‘ari, Conclusive Evidences for the Illegality of the Saudi State;
27) Abdel Qadim Zalloum, How to Revive Islamic Caliphate?
28) Zaki Ahmad, Recent Changes in the Arab-Islamist Movements;
29) Ahmad al-Raysouni, The Islamic Movement in Morocco: Resurgence or Decline?
30) Shaykh Ali al-Bayanuni, The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood;
31) Ishaq al-Farhan, The Future of Islamist Work: The Islamist Movement in the Context of International Transformations and the Gulf Crisis;
32) Yahia H. Zoubir, Islamist Political Parties in Contemporary Algeria;
33) Sami Abdallah, The Islamic Movement in the Gulf Region
34) Tarik Hamdi Al-Azami, The Islamic Movement in Modern Iraq, Sunni Dimension.
35) Malik Bennabi, The Ideational World and Its Impressed and Expressed Ideas;

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