The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy

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Not since the Crusades of the Middle Ages has Islam evoked the degree of fear, hostility, and ethnic and religious stereotyping that is evident throughout Western culture today. As conflicts continue to proliferate around the globe, the perception of a colossal, unyielding, and unavoidable struggle between Islam and the West has intensified. These numerous conflicts, both actual and ideological, have revived fears of an ongoing "clash of civilizations"—an intractable and irreconcilable conflict of values between Western cultures and an Islam that is portrayed as hostile and alien.

The New Crusades takes head-on the idea of an emergent "Cold War" between Islam and the West. It explores the historical, political, and institutional forces that have raised the specter of a threatening and monolithic Muslim enemy and provides a nuanced critique of much received wisdom on the topic, particularly the "clash of civilizations" theory. Bringing together twelve of the most influential thinkers in Middle Eastern and religious studies—including Edward Said, Roy Mottahedeh, and Fatema Mernissi—this timely collection confronts such depictions of the Arab-Islamic world, showing their inner workings and how they both empower and shield from scrutiny Islamic radicals who operate from similar paradigms of inevitable and absolute conflict.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
As the title suggests, Western "construction" of Islam and Muslims comes in for a harsh appraisal in this impressive excursion into the history of ideas. One of the chapters is, appropriately, by Edward Said (famous for his notion of "orientalism"); others dispute Samuel Huntington's famous "Clash of Civilizations" thesis. Overall, the work of the editors and eleven additional contributors is sophisticated, subtle, richly documented, and wide-ranging. Maria Rosa Menocal shows how Western medievalists have expunged the European Arabic contribution to Western literature. Roy Mottahedeh, in a subtle critique of Huntington, brings out the complex reality that is obscured by such reifications as "Islam" and "the West." Rob Nixon presents a study of the persistent anti-Muslim bias in the works of V. S. Naipaul. Norman Cigar chillingly sets out the contribution of Serbian intellectuals to "defining and eliminating a Muslim community." Tomas Mastnak argues that, starting in the fifteenth century, anti-Islamic sentiment fostered the very idea of Europe as a political community. Others deserve mention as well, for all are scholarly, readable, and informative.

A book of major importance.... Essential.

Foreign Affairs
Sophisticated, subtle, richly documented, and wide-ranging.

— L. Carl Brown

The Muslim World Book Review
This is an important book... for those engaged in challenging the assumptions that lie behind this current 'war on terror'.
Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism
The New Crusades assmbles expert knowledges of some tangled historical roots... this work deserves as wide a readership as possible.

— Max Weiss

Studies in Religion
An insightful work.

— Roxanne D. Marcotte

Studies in Contemporary Islam
An important book at an important time in American social thought.

— Daniel L. Smith-Christopher

Foreign Affairs - L. Carl Brown
Sophisticated, subtle, richly documented, and wide-ranging.
Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism - Max Weiss
The New Crusades assmbles expert knowledges of some tangled historical roots... this work deserves as wide a readership as possible.
Studies in Religion - Roxanne D. Marcotte
An insightful work.
Studies in Contemporary Islam - Daniel L. Smith-Christopher
An important book at an important time in American social thought.
A book of major importance.... Essential.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231126663
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/19/2003
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Emran Qureshi is an independent scholar and freelance journalist. His articles and reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Washington Post, and the Guardian Weekly. He resides in Ottawa, where he is working on his next book, a study of Islam and human rights.Michael A. Sells is Emily Judson Baugh and John Marshall Guest Professor of Comparative Religion at Haverford College. He is the author of more than sixty articles and seven books, including Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations and The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface: A Tribute to Eqbal Ahmad
Introduction: Constructing the Muslim Enemy 1
Palace Fundamentalism and Liberal Democracy 51
The Clash of Definitions 68
The Clash of Civilizations: Samuel P. Huntington, Bernard Lewis, and the Remaking of the Post-Cold War World Order 88
The Clash of Civilizations: An Islamicist's Critique 131
Among the Mimics and Parasites: V. S. Naipaul's Islam 152
Islamic and Western Worlds: The End of History or Clash of Civilizations 170
Europe and the Muslims: The Permanent Crusade? 205
The Myth of Westernness in Medieval Literary Historiography 249
Islamophobia in France and the "Algerian Problem" 288
The Nationalist Serbian Intellectuals and Islam: Defining and Eliminating a Muslim Community 314
Christ Killer, Kremlin, Contagion 352
Contributors 389
Index 391
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