03 February, 2008

A Newish Review

Global Jihad, by Patrick Sookhdeo.

Patrick Sookhdeo spoke in St. Mike's about a month or so ago, and we bought this at that time, as it is his latest book. Interesting it is, if somewhat frightening.

Sookhdeo was raised in a Muslim family, as i understand it, and became a Christian around the time that he left home, and has, evidently, made the study of Islam one of his life's works. His has written this book primarily for those in power, the decision-makers in such countries as the US, Western Europe, and further afield though, the blurb assures us, it is useful to “any reader who seeks to understand Islamic violence in the world today.”

The basic, general thesis of the book is that violence is inherent in Islam, and has been present in just about every manifestation of the religion since Muhammad, so it is thus almost impossible to work against the violent interpretation of jihad until and unless there is a true reform of the religion, perhaps to the original Mecca-period suras of the Koran that have, by most interpretations been abrogated by the later, Medina writings. And, of course, anyone who writes on, promotes the cause of, or attempts to reform the religion is branded heretic, with the distinct possibility of being killed for that crime.

Interestingly, and quite contrary to many contemporary commentators, Sookhdeo does not go down the road, far from it, in fact, of trying to redeem Islam as a whole by condemning the few who are preaching jihad and practising war and terrorism, but he rather insists that the submission the word Islam refers to is to be forced (in the view its adherents) if there are any who will not submit willingly. This use of force is shown very clearly to go all the way back to the time of Muhammad, who was not above the judicious use of murder to enforce his will on the tribes of Arabia, even when claiming to be respectful of the people of the book (Jews and Christians), whom he actually killed as he chose.

The biggest issue i have with the book is nothing to do with the content, but the presentation. I know nothing about Isaac Publishing, but suspect that they are a minor operation, or a vanity house, because there are a number of errors in the style or presentation that a good editor or publisher ought to have caught. For example, the format of Arabic names is not consistent, as some are given as X bin-Y and others X b. Y, where the b. can only stand for bin. There are words or phrases used which are not defined in the glossary, though i would think that in a work like this, written to persuade, any and all means ought to be used to aid in that end. These, and others like, are minor irritations, i admit, but enough that i noticed them, and therefore they are flaws. Otherwise, however, this is a fine book, with detailed notes, a huge bibliography, a fairly comprehensive index, and seven appendices, four of which are quite substantial themselves. In over six hundred and fifty pages, well worth the almost unbelievable ten pounds we paid for it.

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