Middle Earth exists. I know, I live there. Middle Earth was the home to Frodo, Bilbo, Sam Wise and a host of other simple folk in the Lord Of the Ring Trilogy. Oblivious to what was happening in distant countries, the Hobbits found themselves in a life and death struggle with powers bent on the destruction to their very way of life, they didn’t have to go looking for it, it came to them. On a similar note….
I’m currently reading the book Jihadist Idealogy And the War On Terror by Dr Mary Habek. I’m 1/3 of the way through it and already I am beginning to understand the confusion in the Middle East, what the “jihadists” believe and some practical long term solutions. Reading the book actually gives me hope. I would highly recommend this book as a “primer” to understanding what’s going around the world. One of the things I appreciate about this book is Dr Habek repeatedly defines the terms and concepts used by the Jihadists. Reading the book reminds me of the Saxon Math text books we used for teaching math. Practical, methodical, and thorough. By the time you finish you are grounded in the basics. If you want a basic working knowledge of the movements afoot in the world at large, you owe it to yourself to get a copy.
Here is a link to getting yourself a copy:
Here is a book review off Amazon books Website which might also be helpful . Knowing Who Is and Who Isn’t The Enemy, March 11, 2006
As much as this book is about knowing the enemy, it is as much about knowing who isn’t the enemy. If you came away from any of your previous readings with feelings of intolerance for Muslims in general, then Mary Habeck’s arguments will appeal to you. As an Associate Professor at John’s Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Habeck’s ultimate focus is public policy and statecraft. For her the term “war on terror” fails to sufficiently describe our objectives. She prefers “war on jihadism” or “war on the khawarij.” The Khawarij were a group which tried, unsuccessfully following the death of Muhammad, to hijack Islam and declare war on mainstream Muslims. The similarity between the khawarij and modern jihadis has already been commented on by Muslim scholars, to the irritation of the jihadis. This approach will also illuminate for mainstream Muslims that the U. S. and the other Western democracies are natural allies in saving their religion from its fanatics. But renaming the battle won’t win it. Spreading democracy throughout the Islamic world, and defusing the Palestinian crisis are the principal prescriptions for defusing jihadism. The U. S. cannot go it alone, however, so we have to improve our diplomacy and better engage other democracies to support us in defeating jihadism.
The world of the jihadist is a very strange one, and Habeck instructs us without condescension or wonkism, and with a minimum of Arabic vocabulary. We learn, for instance, that it is intuitive to jihadists that the victory of the Afgan mujahidun “working entirely on their own” against Russian occupation caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. They believed that the United States would similarly collapse following 9/11. Moreover, they are stunned that we did not collapse, since it is a core tenet of their belief.
This book is exceptionally well researched, and includes fifty pages of endnotes. It is readable and accessible to the open-minded and literate reader. It is a multidisciplinary study of a complex subject which has unfortunately lent itself to oversimplification. Whether this is your starting point in learning about “the enemy,” or if you already have been exposed to other authors’ treatments, this book is an absolute must read. If you intend to read only one book on Islam, this is your best choice. And don’t just put it back on the shelf when you’re done. Recommend it, and pass it along.