Is Islam an Enemy of the West?
December 2016, Polity
New York, Washington, Madrid, London and now Paris Ð the list of Western cities targeted by radical Islamic terrorists waging global jihad continues to grow. Does this extreme violence committed in the name of Islam point to a fundamental enmity between the Muslim faith and the West?
In this compelling essay, leading scholar of Islam Tamara Sonn argues that whilst the West has many enemies among Muslims, it is politics not religion that informs their grievances. The longer these demands remain frustrated, the more violence has escalated and recruitment to groups like Islamic State has increased. Far from quelling the spread of Islamic extremism, Western military intervention has helped to turn nationalist movements into radical terrorist groups with international agendas. Islam, Sonn concludes, is not the problem, just as war is not the solution.
Asma Afsaruddin, Indiana University
"Tamara Sonn's new book dispels the myths that portray Islam as inherently violent and antagonistic toward the West. She offers a compelling response and an essential antidote to the crude caricatures of Islam that pervade our post-9/11 world."
Todd Green, Luther College, author of The Fear of Islam: An Introduction to Islamophobia in the West
Sonn s excellent analysis introduces the reader to the voices of mainstream Muslims who speak out against terrorism; voices that tend to be drowned in the public discourse. Sonn convincingly argues that common grievances among Muslims should not be confused with common religious beliefs. This incisive little book is a reminder that politics, and not religion, is the cause of grievances that leads some to engage in terrorism.
Nelly Lahoud, Institute for Strategic Studies-Middle East
A concise but remarkably comprehensive analysis of a major element in contemporary global affairs - the relations between Islam and the West. Sonn s thorough knowledge of both mainstream and extremist Muslim thought and movements gives a depth to this study that goes well beyond the usual coverage of this significant subject.
John O. Voll, Professor Emeritus of Islamic History, Georgetown University
Policymakers, government leaders, media pundits, terrorism experts and terrorists alike, as well as militant Muslim and Christian preachers continue to speak of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West or the Islamic threat. In Is Islam and Enemy of the West? Tamara Sonn, a distinguished expert on Islam and Muslim politics, addresses these concerns head-on in a major book that combines an impressive range of scholarship with an accessible and engaging style.
John L. Esposito, University Professor, Georgetown University and author of Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam and The Future of Islam.
Tamara Sonn s new book, Is Islam an Enemy of the West?, deserves a wide readership - and particularly by those with influence but little knowledge of Islam. If the old saw that the truth will set you free has any resonance, readers will find an example of it here.
Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell and professor of government and public policy