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The Real Causes of "Islamic" Religious Violence
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Graham E Fuller
A World Without Islam (NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.  317p.)

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This book becomes available on the public market in August 2010.  In July 2010, I received a copy for review from the publisher.  Fuller is former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council of the CIA.

This volume provides an experienced perspective from Graham's practical experience.  He also writes in a scholarly manner, but using clear, common English to provide his evaluation of the current world situation in regard to radical Islamist movements.

Fuller proves himself a competent communicator and analyst as he discusses in great detail and clarity the role of Islam as a social and cultural phenomenon in the world's cultures.  He starts with a brief insightful introduction to the two concepts of "jihad" in traditional and mainline Islam.

Political Uses of Religion
He deals with the worldwide religious phenomen of renewal, showing how the Islamic renewal movements fit a standard and universal pattern of religious approaches – any religion – to reform in a society.  He provides historical perspective, and also relates the current militant phenomenon of radical Islamist terrorism with the politics and military hegemony of the west since the Middle Ages.

Fuller analyzes historical and ethnic factors in each part of the world, and concludes that with our without Islam, or other major religions, the same types of conflicts would have occurred because of other reasons.  He concludes that what is commonly thought of as "religious violence" really has its causes in underlying ethnic and political forces and dynamics.

Religion becomes the vehicle of protest and the frame in which ethnic or political protest and resistance is developed.  He shows quite convincingly that it is in times of oppression and provocation that religious banners are taken up by various resistance movements in different cultures.

For instance, the primary stated targets of of Islamic Jihadists are Arab and other Muslim governments.  It is well-known – and Fuller's research confirms this – that al-Qaeda's primary target has been the government of Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Muslim countries.

Infidel Troops
The United States fell into the line of fire through their alliance with Saudi Arabia, and especially the presence of US troops on Saudi (“Muslim”) soil.  This is an example of the type of provocation that leads to attack on the west, which are not the stated target of al-Qaeda and other movements originally.  Individual Muslims admire the freedom and openness of society in the US.

These values of personal liberty and human rights seem to be contradicted in US policy in operation around the world.  Fuller points out that US domination behavior around the world provokes support for Islamic terrorist groups.  These groups use religious rhetoric to stir up emotions, and emotionally charged Muslims join their ranks, believing the rhetoric, which has a different underlying power agenda.

Jihadists Condemned by Muslims
Meanwhile, religious leaders throughout the Muslim world condemn their activities.  I have observed that these Muslim voices opposing and condemning the Islamists rarely get a hearing in the popular western press, which prefers crisis language to get viewers and often plays upon fear.

I thought Fuller's analysis would be a helpful break from the popular religious sources, which are often uninformed or skewed to match certain ideologies.  I found this to be true.  Much I hear in the popular political perspectives likewise overgeneralizes, presents inaccurate information or conclusions, and produces simplistic pictures and proposals.

The political rhetoric, from elected politicians or various public voices, often sounds disappointingly uninformed and emotional, often using clichés and rhetoric designed to play on and even raise fear, in order to garner support for a certain position.

Every American should read this book!

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Arabs:  Self-Identity and Foreign Views
[review] Complex and Diverse Muslim Realities
[review] Muslim and Christian:  Comparing the Paths
[review] Islam, A Realistic and Sympathetic Portrait
[resource] Islam:  Its Life and Values
[review] Practical Peace
[Review] Practical Realities in North African Muslim Societies
[reviews] A Sufi Muslim Musician Suffers for His Faith

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Reviewed on Amazon 26 July 2010
Final review posted on OJTR 30 July 2010
Last edited 7 January 2013
Reviewed on GoodReads 9 December 2016

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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