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60-Second Review: Beyond Fundamentalism

29/01/2011

I like to read Reza Aslan’s columns on the Daily Beast’s Web site. So, I decided that my first purchase from my nookbook wish list would be the re-release of his book, Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization (originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War).

This is a must-read for anybody really seeking to understand the underlying dynamics of the Jihadist movement, how it differs from the Islamist movement, and in what ways it really is similar to some other social movements in the United States with which we are familiar — the “us v. them” argument is as firmly entrenched in Western society as it has been in every society since the beginning of time, and Aslan uses the history of Islam and of Islamic politics to illustrate the cosmic nature of Jihadism.

What is perhaps most important about Beyond Fundamentalism is that Aslan’s efforts to understand the beliefs, ideas, and adherents of Jihadism gives them back the humanity they lose when our own government makes them enemies in a “War on Terror” that seems more and more like a war on otherness — a war that nobody can ever win.

Last ten seconds: If you consider yourself a conservative or do not believe that Muslims (or any other group) are equally worthy of consideration, then you will most likely not appreciate this book. You should pick it up anyway, though, because you might (crossing fingers here) learn something.

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