The book “The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror” narrates the complex history of Islam and how most of its followers continue to reject modernism in favor of conservative ideas that oppose most of the changes experienced in the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The varied opinions and hostilities toward many Western nations are evident throughout this text by Lewis. The purpose of this book review is to give a detailed analysis of the central arguments it presents, referenced evidence, and the core concepts the author utilizes. The paper also gives a personal critique and analysis of the text based on the described ideas.
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Several arguments are evident in the selected book that different readers can take seriously to understand the relationship between the Western world and Islam. Firstly, many Muslims and their respective communities face numerous challenges and issues that make it impossible for them to achieve their potential. Some of them include increased poverty levels, poor governance and leadership, failure to tackle numerous economic challenges, and social inequality. The author acknowledges that most of the strategies and initiatives implemented in these communities have failed to deliver meaningful results.
Secondly, divisive opinions continue to emerge whereby some stakeholders believe that political and economic freedoms can address most of the existing predicaments (Lewis 26). Another group indicates that modernization is a negative force that disorients the future of Islamic nations. Thirdly, some of the fundamentalist Islamic groups indicate that most Western ways should be rejected by all means. Fourthly, the writer describes how some leaders and religious followers advocate for Islamic states that are governed using traditional values, beliefs, and Islamic law. Finally, the author indicates that this kind of complexity continues to complicate the relationship between Islam and the West.
In this book, the author presents his sole arguments about the past and the potential future of the Islam world. The main observation is that the writer focuses on the conflicts arising from the existence of Western and anti-Western ideologies within the Muslim world.
The text employs the use of various examples to present the targeted ideas and arguments in an attempt to make them more persuasive and meaningful, such as the establishment of the Israel state, the emergence and dominance of Wahhabism, the existence of despotic leaders in the region, the role of oil money, and the presence of militants in Iran, Afghanistan, and Egypt (Lewis 62). Through such examples and historical facts, it becomes quite clear that the main claims in this book are persuasive, informative, and meaningful to the reader.
Core Concepts and Theories
After going through the selected text, the reader acknowledges that the writer has employed various theories and concepts to describe the subject matter and make it meaningful to the reader. The concept of globalization is notable, whereby the writer utilizes it to refer to the introduction of modern ideologies into Islam as a new reality. The harmonization of economic, business, and political practices and norms is the reality that is currently experienced in many Islamic societies (Lewis 57).
Similarly, the concept of Westernization is evident in this text since the author uses it to explain how and why many Muslims remain opposed to the ideas associated with different Western countries. The concept of fundamentalism is applied to describe how different Muslims prefer a traditional and conservative approach to governance and social practices.
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The theory of war and peace appears adopted in this book to describe the multifaceted history of Islam and its relationship with the developed world. The author identifies and defines it as a model for understanding international disagreements or positive relations. The conflicts experienced in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan are founded on such a hypothesis and have become powerful guidelines for explaining where there is a need for tranquility in the Middle East and other Islamic societies. The theory of realism is also evident, and it narrates how different countries and groups continue to pursue diverse foreign policies and interactions with Western countries.
The book uses this hypothesis indirectly and identifies it as an evidence-based model for promoting international relationships. For example, Lewis describes how Israel was established and how its leaders have been keen to maintain peace while at the same time protecting their territories using available resources (71). Each of these theories and concepts is supported using appropriate historical sources and materials in an attempt to make them relevant and meaningful to the reader and explain the viewpoints of different Islamic followers.
The author of this book has presented various concepts and arguments regarding terrorism, Islamic ideology, modernity, and fundamentalism. Although he fails to offer direct references or sources to support his arguments, the reader observes that there are various texts that are borrowed from other materials or publications. While the author is an expert in the targeted matter, it is evident that he applies his journalistic competencies and observations to describe most of the intended events and concepts (Lewis 88). He goes further to consider past events and evidence from secondary materials to explain the current state of affairs in the Islamic world. Such references are essential and are applied for the sole purpose of augmenting or strengthening the intended concepts in the book.
In some instances, the author attempts to bring forth evidence that is critical for his central arguments. For instance, the issue of terrorism within the Islamic world emerges when he supports the intended message using Osama bin Laden’s quotes from one of his videotapes. The author explains how bin Laden acknowledges that Islam is a religion that has suffered untold disgrace and humiliation for over 80 years (Lewis xv). This kind of evidence reveals that the author consulted numerous materials and speeches from different leaders in both the Islamic and Western regions to deliver the intended ideas and concepts to the reader. Such examples are critical for augmenting the intended arguments.
Throughout the ext, the reader observes that appropriate evidence is considered to make the intended ideas relevant and meaningful to the reader. It is also clear that there are no spots where such evidence is thin. This happens to be the case since the author has a strong grasp of the subject matter and considers both past and current happenings to bring high-quality information to the reader (Lewis 92). The strength or weakness of such references does not matter since the author’s message is founded on the reality on the ground and his personal observation of modern Islamic and non-Muslim relationships.
Personal Critique and Analysis
After going through this text by Lewis, I have acknowledged that he has managed to bring to attention the issues that continue to denote the underperformance and confusion experienced in the Islamic world. He uses historical events in a proper manner to explain how past occurrences have reshaped religious and race relations in many Islamic countries. The divisions propagated by different leaders have resulted in new branches of Islam that present diverse teachings, views, and opinions (Lewis 45). The example of Wahhabism as a fundamentalist group explains why many followers are against the ideologies of the West. Instead, they prefer a traditionalist approach to leadership, religious practices, and social norms.
The book explains why many Muslims believe that the outside world has been against their progress. Consequently, they have been pursuing a different path that can make it possible for them to get rid of Western nations, punish their enemies, and eventually succeed in establishing a sacred state informed by their past traditions and practices (Lewis 103). The book is informative and worth reading since it encourages all stakeholders to focus on a positive resolution that will support the formation of a free and successful Islamic society that relates positively with the entire global community.
The above discussion has revealed how the author of the selected text has explained why the Islam world is currently grappling with different challenges. Using several arguments and theories, the text narrates the real issues that make it impossible for Muslims to relate effectively with non-Muslims in the developed world. In conclusion, Lewis’ book is recommendable to all scholars, researchers, and readers who want to learn more about the origin of the stalemate existing between the Islam world and the West and the most appropriate solution towards establishing a better future.
Lewis, Bernard. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. Random House, 2004.