How shall we speak about Islam in the aftermath of September 11? Three recent books by scholars with long track records in interpreting the Islamic world present us with three highly distinctive answers.
When John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, I was sitting in Miss Wyatt’s seventh grade classroom at Tuscaloosa Junior High School. My wooden desk was next to a wall with high windows, and while the news came over the intercom I watched dust motes drifting in a beam of light as if they had been excused from the law of gravity.
The Holy Ghost is a pedophile. No, that opener does not mean that I have gone off half-cocked or whole-cocked. Blasphemy is not my game, now or ever. Keeping the sacred sacred is part of our mission on these pages, and I would not risk losing readers’ trust on this score. So why begin that way?
Tucked away in an account of the Jewish resistance to Antiochus Epiphanes is the story of a hero’s sacrifice. The Book of 1 Maccabees describes the prebattle scene. Jewish forces are encamped at Bethzechariah with the enemy directly opposite them, fully armed and ready to fight.
In the wake of the terrorist fury unleashed by Osama bin Laden and his Islamic al-Qaeda organization on September 11, Western analysts have been scrambling to analyze the competing ideologies that have brought about a violent collision between two cultures.
One of the objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent pro-Western diplomacy is to reduce instability along Russia’s southern borders. In the troubled area to the north of Afghanistan are five predominantly Muslim countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
By now we are all too familiar not only with the major terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon, but also with the smaller terrorist attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Arab-Americans in the weeks since then. At the time of this writing, the murder of an Arizona Sikh man named Balbir Singh Sodhi is the latest deadly case of mistaken identity.
When 25 Muslims walked out of a meeting at the White House last month, the Bush administration had an embarrassing but correctable public relations problem on its hands. Of more long-range significance is what the action said about the political consciousness and activity of the millions of Muslims—the figure may be as high as 6 million—living in the U.S.