The Future of Political Islam / Edition 1

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Graham E. Fuller brings a lifetime of experience in the Muslim world to shed light on how common, even universal, political behavior takes on a distinctively Islamic guise in the Muslim world. By examining the social, economic and political context, he explains that the struggle between the fundamentalists and liberals will determine the future of political Islam. This sweeping survey of trends in the Muslim world, from Morocco to the Philippines, explores the diversity of Islamic political activity and makes clear that Islamic political movements represent a broad spectrum of outlook and behavior. Whether traditional or liberal, these movements have become an important vehicle for the concerns, aspirations and grievances of vast numbers of Muslims worldwide and are a natural outgrowth of Muslim history. Fuller contends that while political Islam is the dominant intellectual current, a focus on radicalism and extremism blinds us from another trend: liberal political Islam. The issues are not what is Islam, but what Muslims want, and not whether Islam will play a central role in politics, but which Islam. As Islam has become the vocabulary for political and social expression, it has come to serve various agendas.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" illuminating read and a welcome addition to the growing literature on contemporary Islam..."—Publishers Weekly Annex

"After September 11, 2001, the discussion around Islam has often been shrill and usually sterile; that is why Graham Fuller's measured, scholarly and eminently sensible voice needs to be heard. Read Fuller's new book The Future of Political Islam to make sense of the dangerous, changing and complex relationship between the West and the world of Islam."—Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington, D.C. is author of Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World (I.B.Tauris, 2002)

"This is the most insightful book on developments in political Islam since the Iranian revolution shook the world. Having lived myself many years in the shadow of a mosque, I can say without hesitation that Fuller has captured the core and nature of Islamism. Importantly, he casts the movement as part of the solution to the looming confrontation between the United States and what we call the Islamic world, not just the cause of the confrontation. The Future of Political Islam is a must read, both for those shaping U.S. policy toward one-fifth of mankind and for America's own religious leaders who themselves have a hand on the political tiller."—Milt Bearden is a former senior CIA official and author of The Black Tulip (Random House, 2002) and co-author of The Main Enemy (Random House, 2003)

"Graham Fuller is supremely qualified to provide rich insight into contemporary Islamic thinking on politics, economics and international relations. Here his sensitivity to differences among Muslims combines with an impressive discussion of contemporary developments, resulting in an important contribution to understanding. Fuller argues persuasively that Islamic political movements are, above all, an engagement with the modern world, not a flight from it, and that it is possible to reason critically with their ideas. Fuller's hope that Islamist movements will engage in participatory politics, and his belief that they should be tested by the experience of government, underpin his cautiously optimistic analysis that the future of political Islam can be peaceful."—Fred Halliday, London School of Economics, author Nation and Religion in the Middle East

Publishers Weekly
Fuller, a former vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, sets out to de-mystify Islam and its relationship to affairs of state in this broad survey of Islamic political movements. Attributing the rise of militant and fundamentalist Islam to centuries of Western colonialism, imperialism and cultural domination, Fuller points out that in most Middle Eastern countries, politicized Islam is often the only alternative to repressive, authoritarian regimes. To his credit, he treats this as neither an excuse nor a justification, but a simple reality. As with any other religion or political movement, Islam takes on a variety of forms: "Islamism is really a variety of political movements, principles and philosophies that draw general inspiration from Islam but produce different agendas and programs at different times." While Fuller succeeds in explaining that Shari'a, or Islamic law, is less a form of governance (as many fundamentalists argue) than a personal code of conduct, he brings a powerful argument to bear against many radical and repressive interpretations of the Koran. Fuller's narrative doesn't always pack the cogent punch of that section of the book, which as a whole can feel somewhat scattershot. Although Fuller manages to include much valuable and clearly presented information in these pages, he occasionally repeats himself, especially towards the end of the book. Nonetheless, this is an illuminating read and a welcome addition to the growing literature on contemporary Islam, and Fuller's prognosis-of increased tensions between international Islam and the U.S.; a focus on revenge rather than growth; the potential obsolescence of more liberal Islamic political movements, among other predictions-is sobering. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403965561
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/14/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Graham E. Fuller is former Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at CIA.

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Table of Contents


• Preface

• Introduction

• The Anguish of Islamic History

• The Uses of Political Islam: Islamism in Action

• Islamist Polarities

• Islamism and Global Geopolitics

• Islam and Terrorism

• Islamism in Power: Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan

• Islamism in Politics

• Islamism and the West

• The Impact of Global Forces on Political Islam

• The Future of Political Islam: Its Dilemmas and Options

• Notes

• Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2003

    calm voice amidst the hysteria

    My first impression was the lack of demonization. While any intelligent person understands the pitfalls of painting a group of people with a broad brush, Mr. Fuller does more than pay lip-service to the fact that Islam in general and more specifically political Islam contains a broad spectrum of orientations, both culturally and political. He describes a struggle to find what it is that is appropriately contemporary, culturally authentic, and properly supportive of an environment conducive to personal freedom, growth, and security, despite the obstacles and threats, real and perceived, external and from within. Islam and the democratic rule of law are neither incompatible nor on divergent trajectories. The challenge for political Islam is accomplishing a broadly acceptable synthesis and nothing less than altering an entrenched value system that has less to do with religion than it does the corruptive power of authoritarianism evident anywhere in the developing world. This is an objective and balanced work, neither apologist in nature nor burdened by ethnocentric baggage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2009

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