Cover image for Warriors of the Prophet : the struggle for Islam
Warriors of the Prophet : the struggle for Islam
Huband, Mark.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xix, 228 pages ; 23 cm
Reading Level:
1450 Lexile.

Format :


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BP60 .H8 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Based on eyewitness accounts and original interviews, this bold new work provides a vivid portrayal of the evolving political and cultural role played by Islamic fundamentalist movements. Drawing on his firsthand experiences, Mark Huband moves deep inside the contemporary Islamic movements of countries as diverse as Morocco and Afghanistan.Huband reveals how Western powers have contributed to the rise of Islamic movements by their earlier support of the Afghan Islamic resistance and gives detailed accounts of his discussions with militant groups, Muslim scholars, and political opponents of the Islamic movements.Enriching these discussions, the author contextualizes the movements by exploring their historical and intellectual framework. The book uniquely illustrates the variety found within the movements, as well as the range of relationships the Islamic movements have to the various countries in which they are active. Warriors of the Prophet details the current crisis in Algeria; the disappointments of Arab nationalism and socialist experiments in Egypt; the social breakdown of Somalia in relation to the ideal of an Islamic way of life; the disaffected youth in the Islamic movements of Morocco, Egypt, and elsewhere; and the Islamic experiment and its relationship with the non-Islamic world as revealed in Sudan's experience since 1989. Through these insightful accounts, Huband gives us a penetrating exploration of one of the major issues of the late twentieth century.

Author Notes

Mark Huband is the Cairo correspondent for the Financial Times.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Islam is a popular subject these days; however, popular understanding of the Middle East and the pertinence of Islam to its history is still often misguided and misunderstood. Huband, a longtime Middle East correspondent, offers an intelligent look at the politics of various Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East, ranging from Morocco to Afghanistan. Many militant Islamic groups were originally given U.S. training during the Afghan War. As these young soldiers returned to their generally impoverished nations, the determination for a theocratic Islamic government evolved, and the power of the militant groups grew stronger. In placing these militant movements within historical context and a geographic milieu, Huband can better explain how and why Islamists have declared war on westernization, socialism, secularism, and Zionism. Although some knowledge of Islam is presupposed, this is a good introduction to the intricacies of political currents in the Arab-Islamic bloc of nations. Combine this with Milton Viorst's recent In the Shadow of the Prophet [BKL My 15 98], and the subject will be amply covered. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

In these probing dispatches, Financial Times Cairo correspondent Huband examines how Islam has reasserted itself in global politics, presenting the views of political figures, dissidents and Muslim scholars in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia to show the evolution of the "Islamic Revival." In Algeria, a resurgent Islamist movement of anti-French intellectuals, the unemployed and militant veterans of Afghanistan's mujahideen attacks Algeria's political/military elite for perpetuating colonialism through its ties to French business interests. In Sudan, a nine-year experiment to build an Islamic theocratic state has brought stagnation to a country ravaged by a civil war that has claimed a million lives. In the patchwork of warring clans that Somalia comprises, armed Islamic groups vie for a role in government, claiming that only the implementation of Muhammad's original teachings will save the nation from further anarchy. Huband argues that contemporary militant Islam represents a historic phase of the evolving religion. Huband's emphasis is intentionally on the more radical, militant end of the spectrum, rather than on the mainstream, but his survey still subverts the conventional Western view of Islam as a homogenous movement intent upon returning to an idealized past. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Religious violence is a major issue right now, and Islam is a prime suspect in our press. Huband, Cairo correspondent for the Financial Times, has spent many years in Islamic countries and has interviewed a number of the major actors in the field. He discusses eight countries separately‘including Algeria, Morocco, and Afghanistan‘and concludes that Islamic revivalism is a destabilizing result of colonialism, for the unifying force of independence is religion, not nationalism. He argues that Islam is evolving according to its own cultural milieu and that militants and radicals are prominent because they reflect the social upheaval of each country and not the tenets of the faith. The depth of Huband's knowledgeable analysis makes his book best suited for experts. More geared to general readers are Bruce B. Lawrence's fine Shattering the Myth (LJ 4/1/98) and Political Islam (Lynn Rienner, 1997).‘Louise F. Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This well-researched book by a capable journalist presents a solid, if not deep, discussion of the Islamicist movements in Afghanistan, Somalia, Algeria, Egypt, and the Sudan. Drawing primarily on interviews as well as on his own experience, Huband paints a clear picture of the plurality and differences within politicized Islam. He charts the extensive internal variety within Islam that gives the faith its dynamism, and he traces the growth of the various national Islamic movements from the involvement of young, alienated, and frustrated men in the Afghan war. Huband spends less time on the interaction of Islam with the West but notes the importance of this interaction, the rise of modernist reformers, and the impact of conflict with the West on contemporary politics in the region. He suggests that the end of the Cold War has changed little for Islamicists. The state remains the "Iron hand" that the Islamic wave has thus far lapped against in failure, but he notes that the movements described here provide an important political outlet for those disillusioned with the past. Suitable for general and academic audiences. J. D. Stempel; University of Kentucky

Table of Contents

Note on Transliterationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Glossaryp. xiii
Introductionp. xv
1 The Road from Kabul: Afghanistanp. 1
An Arab Army for the Afghan Warp. 3
Afghanistan and the Politics of Islamp. 5
America Traps the Russian Bearp. 9
The Secret Armyp. 11
Warriors of a Holy Warp. 14
The Endless Warp. 16
A Nation at the Crossroadsp. 20
The Battle for Central Asiap. 22
2 The Abyss of Darkness: Somaliap. 25
Order Out of Chaosp. 29
From Unity to Disintegrationp. 33
The Islamists Voice Their Messagep. 36
The Arab Army Joins the Frayp. 38
A Land Set Adriftp. 42
3 The Torn Heart: Algeriap. 46
"Algeria Is My Country,"p. 47
Empires of the Orientp. 50
The Road to Catastrophep. 55
Battle for the Soul of a Nationp. 59
Travels with a Sheikhp. 65
"The Hour of Total Change,"p. 69
4 The Community of Muslims: Egyptp. 73
The Scholars of the Islamic Revivalp. 76
The Muslim Brotherhoodp. 81
Death, Defiance, and the Call to Jihadp. 86
The State of Islamp. 89
5 The Myth of the Golden Age: The Maghreb and Arabiap. 94
Politics in the Wildernessp. 97
The Building of a Nationp. 103
Men of Deeds, Men of Wordsp. 112
6 The Iron Hand of the State: North Africa and the Middle Eastp. 117
Words, Actions, and the "Total Project,"p. 121
A Long, Slow Deathp. 128
"Unto You, Your Moral Law, and Unto Me, Mine,"p. 134
7 The Book and the Gun: Sudanp. 140
The Land of the Mahdip. 143
The Corridors of Powerp. 147
"They Have Learnt Silence and Patience from the River and from the Trees,"p. 154
The Dangerous Gamep. 159
8 From Dual Containment to Double Standardsp. 166
Baghdad's Last Smilep. 170
The Islamists' Twilightp. 183
Conclusionp. 194
Notesp. 199
Indexp. 221