Cover image for The receding shadow of the prophet : the rise and fall of radical political Islam
The receding shadow of the prophet : the rise and fall of radical political Islam
Takeyh, Ray, 1966-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, CT : Praeger, 2004.
Physical Description:
xvi, 186 pages ; 24 cm

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BP173.7 .T34 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The tragic events of September 11, 2001, in the United States renewed fears of an Islamist wave destabilizing the countries of the Muslim world. Yet the alarm raised over a previous wave of Islamism in the early 1990s, which threatened to overwhelm Egypt and Algeria and spill into the Balkans and Central Asia, proved to be unfounded. Takeyh and Gvosdev assert that while Islamism has been successful as an oppositional ideology of wrath, it has failed to provide Islamic societies with any feasible alternative to undertaking fundamental political and economic reforms. By detailing the defeat of Islamist movements in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central Asia over the last decade, this book encourages us not to overestimate the Islamist threat in the current climate and the years to come.

Radical Islamists have been successful in mobilizing opposition to corrupt regimes, yet they have failed to translate their utopian vision into reality. Furthermore, their emphasis on violence alienates and frightens the middle class and other potential allies. Iran's revolution failed to create a model Islamic republic, and its government is increasingly losing legitimacy to demands for genuine democracy. Islamist governments in Afghanistan and Sudan relied upon violence to remain in power and ultimately collapsed. Islamist movements proved unable to dislodge the existing regimes in Egypt and Algeria. In the Balkans and Central Asia, Islamism has had little attraction for Western-oriented populations. Indeed, throughout the entire Islamic world, former radicals are seeking a new accommodation between Islamic values and liberal democracy. Takeyh and Gvosdev succinctly and accessibly explore the rise of radical Islam, as well as its ultimate demise in various nations.

Author Notes

Nikolas K. Gvosdev is Executive Editor of The National Interest and a senior fellow for strategic studies at The Nixon Center.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

A cursory look at predominantly Muslim societies today might reinforce the image of a resurgent, militant Islamic fundamentalism poised to seize political power domestically and to confront the West both ideologically and via terrorism. But, according to the authors, a calmer, closer examination leads to a far different conclusion. They acknowledge that radical Islamic movements have successfully highlighted the corruption and failures of various incumbent regimes in Muslim nations. The more extreme movements have also shown they can carry out acts of violence, sometimes on a massive scale, on foreign soil. However, Takeyh and Gvosdev assert that Islamists have dismally failed to present a workable model for governance of a nation state. In Egypt and Algeria, despite the use of violence, they have failed to dislodge secular regimes. In Iran, while the mullahs cling to power, they are widely despised by an increasingly youthful and restive population, and they have failed to bring the prosperity they promised. This is an important, provocative work, bound to evoke controversy among general readers and scholars. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Choice Review

Takeyh and Gvosdev's account of the successes and failures of political Islam covers a political phenomenon common to many Muslim nations and peoples in Asia, Africa, and the former communist world. The authors find that political Islam is dying fast and that pro-Islamic movements, in the manner of Talibanism, represent a defeated utopian ideology from the past, with Islamists and Muslim activists now at civil war among themselves over the nature of Islamism and its future in Muslim governance. The authors do, however, credit Islamic movements with having revealed the widespread corruption of present-day secular Muslim governments. The authors fail to substantiate the thesis that Islamism is dying. Their suggestion that the West need not concern itself with the future of a vanishing Islamism is mistaken, as is the notion that the West could isolate the Muslim world from globalization. The concluding chapter confuses the ideas of Edward Said and Daniel Pipes, erroneously stating that Said agrees with Pipes's conviction that Islamists can be dealt with only by military means. Pipes believes that Islam is a violent religion, while Said writes that utopian Islamism is an early stage that will gradually evolve to a creative phase, as is typical in the history of all ideologies. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Research and faculty collections. M. A. Khan University of California, Davis

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductonp. xi
Chapter 1 The Islamist Challengep. 1
Islamism versus Muslim Politicsp. 2
The Islamist Outlookp. 8
Attractions and Pitfalls of Islamismp. 14
Chapter 2 Iran: The Islamist State and the Reformist Agendap. 23
Revolution and Reformp. 24
Reform's Real Track Recordp. 29
A Civil War in the Rightp. 32
The New Iran?p. 36
Chapter 3 Islamism in Algeria: A History of Hope and Agonyp. 39
The Growing Political and Social Gapsp. 39
The Evolution of Political Islam in Algeriap. 42
The Rise and Fall of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)p. 44
Whither Algeria?p. 51
Chapter 4 Egypt: The Struggle for a Nation's Soulp. 59
Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhoodp. 60
Killing Pharaohp. 61
The Egyptian Stalematep. 68
Islamism and Moderation in Egyptp. 71
Chapter 5 Islamism in the Former Yugoslaviap. 77
Islam and Nationality in Yugoslavia: A General Overviewp. 78
Muslims, Islam, and the War in Bosnia, 1990-2002p. 84
Albanians, Islam, and Kosovo, 1974-1999p. 94
Did the Balkans Become an Islamist Beachhead? Concluding Thoughtsp. 96
Chapter 6 From the Red Star to the Green Crescent? Islamism in the Former Soviet Unionp. 105
The Shadow of the Crescent? Assumptions about Islam in the Soviet Unionp. 106
Islam, Gorbachev, and the Breakup of the USSRp. 114
Post-Soviet Islam: General Observationsp. 119
State Islam and the Eurasian Consensusp. 122
Islamists Ascendant? The Case of Tajikistanp. 126
Islamists Ascendant? The Case of Chechnyap. 131
The Islamist Threat in Eurasia: A Realistic Assessmentp. 135
Chapter 7 Some Thoughts on Islamist Failures in Sudan and Afghanistanp. 147
Sudan: Trajectory of Failurep. 148
Afghanistan: An Islamist Cambodia?p. 152
Conclusionp. 157
Selected Bibliographyp. 169
Indexp. 183