Unholy War: Terror In The Name Of ISLAM
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Book Information
Title: Unholy War: Terror in the Name of ISLAM
Author: John L. Esposito
Edition: 2010
Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House
The main goal of the author from this book is to explain why 9/11 occurred and to place the attacks within their broader context. This understanding is now even more important because of what has happened since 9/11: the continued threat of terror¬ism, the American-led war against terrorism, and the exponential growth of anti-Americanism and hatred of America globally.
The author said Since the first edition of Unholy War, many have contin¬ued to equate the religion of Islam with global terrorism. At the same time, American statements and policies have reinforced in Muslims the conviction that the American-led war is in fact a war against Islam.
The book consists of four chapters:
• The making of a modern terrorist
• Jihad and the struggle for Islam
• The armies of God
• Where do we go from here?
One of the most important issues the book deals with is globalization of Jihad. Terrorists such as bin Laden and others go beyond classical Islam’s criteria for a just jihad and recognize no limits but their own, employing any weapons or means. They reject Islamic law’s regulations regarding the goals and means of a valid jihad (that violence must be proportional and that only the necessary amount of force should be used to repel the enemy), that innocent civilians should not be targeted, and that jihad must be declared by the ruler or head of state. Today, individuals and groups, religious and lay, seize the right to declare and legitimate unholy wars in the name of Islam.
On the other hand, Islamic scholars and religious leaders across the Muslim world regarded by many as the highest moral authority in Islam, have made strong, authoritative declarations against bin Laden’s initiatives: Islam provides clear rules and ethi¬cal norms that forbid the killing of non-combatants, as well as women, children, and the elderly, and also forbids the pursuit of the enemy in defeat, the execution of those who surrender, the infliction of harm on prisoners of war, and the destruction of prop¬erty that is not being used in the hostilities.
Globalization of communications, technology, and travel has heightened a new consciousness of the transnational identity and interconnectedness of the Islamic community (ummah) that follows events across the Muslim world on a daily, even hourly basis. They reinforce a sense of solidarity and identification. Regardless of na¬tional and cultural identities, most Muslims are not secular; they do self-consciously identify themselves as Muslim. They celebrate or bemoan successes and failures of Muslim struggles for self-deter¬mination, freedom from oppression, and economic development across the world, as well as of militant jihads, holy and unholy wars. The dark side of globalization and interconnectedness is that com-munications and technology support the existence of global terror¬ist networks in the twenty-first century.
If Western powers need to rethink, reassess foreign policies and their support for authoritarian regimes, mainstream Muslims world¬wide will need to more aggressively address the threat to Islam from religious extremists. Their jihad or struggle will be religious, intellectual, spiritual, and moral. But it must be a more rapid and widespread program of Islamic renewal that builds on past reform¬ers but that follows the lead of enlightened religious leaders and intellectuals today more forcefully, and that more effectively en¬gages in a wide-ranging process of reinterpretation (ijtihad) and reform. There are formidable obstacles to be overcome the ultra-conservatism of some (though not all) ulama, reform in the training of religious scholars and leaders, the countering of more puritanical exclusivist brands of Islam, and the discred¬iting of militant jihadist ideas and ideologies.
Like the process of modern reform in Judaism and Christianity, questions of leadership and the authority of the past and tradition are critical. Whose Islam? Who leads and decides? Is it rulers, the vast majority of whom are kings, and former military? Or elected prime ministers and parliaments? Is it the ulama or who continue to see themselves as the primary interpreters of Islam, although some are ill prepared to respond creatively to modern realities? Or is it modern educated, Islamically oriented intellectuals and activists? Lacking an effective leader¬ship, will other Osama bin Ladens fill the vacuum?
The second major question is, What Islam? Is Islamic reform sim¬ply returning to the past and restoring past doctrines and laws, or is it a reformation of Islam to meet the demands of modern life? Some call for an Islamic state based on the reimplementation of classical formulations of Islamic laws. Others argue the need to reinterpret law in light of the new re¬alities of contemporary society.
Religious traditions are a combination of text and context— revelation and human interpretation within a specific socio-historical context. This has gone on for many centuries. All religious traditions demonstrate dynamism and diversity and that is why there are conservative elements as well as modernist or p elements in all religions. Judaism and Christianity, the He¬brew Bible and the New Testament have been used to legitimize monarchies and feudalism in the past, and democracy and capi¬talism, as well as socialism in the present. The Gospels and Chris¬tianity have been used to legitimize the accumulation of wealth and market capitalism as well as religiosocial movements such as those of Francis of Assisi and, in the twentieth century, Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement, and liberation theology in Latin and Central America. The process continues today regarding issues of gender relations, birth control, abortion, and social justice, yielding multiple and diverse positions. While using the same text and referring to a common history, people come out with different interpretations. Islam too is an ideal that has taken many forms historically and has been capable of multiple interpre¬tations, conditioned by text, reason and social contexts.
This is a time to remember the events of September 11 and to respond: a time to remember the victims, those who died and their families. It is also a time for the international community, govern¬ments, religious leaders, opinion makers, intellectuals, academics, and citizens to respond.
The United States-led coalition has brought an end to Taliban rule, the first major step in the war against glo¬bal terrorism. Whether Osama bin Laden is captured and however successful are attempts to contain al-Qaeda, religious terrorism in the Muslim world and beyond will continue to be a threat to na¬tions and to the international community.
Political leaders have recognized, we will not defeat global terrorism solely by military or economic means. Public diplomacy must be a critical compo¬nent. There can be no excuse for terrorism in the name of Islam.
Suicide attacks, bombings, assassinations in the name of any cause, whether justified in the name of God, justice, or state security, are still terrorism. Quick and easy responses, such as moves to quiet the Arab street through overwhelming force, may be emotionally satisfying but will in the long run prove ineffective and contribute to greater radicalization and anti-Americanism.
While some forms of terrorism, like some forms of cancer, respond to radical surgery, this deadly disease can only be effectively countered first by un¬derstanding how it originates, grows stronger, and spreads and then by taking action.
The cancer of global terrorism will con¬tinue to afflict the international body until we address its political and economic causes, causes that will otherwise continue to pro¬vide a breeding ground for hatred and radicalism, the rise of ex¬tremist movements, and recruits for the bin Ladens of the world.

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