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Militant Islam Reaches America

by Daniel Pipes
New York: W.W. Norton, 2003
$15.95, paper
ISBN 0-393-325318
326 pages

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"Unnoticed by most Westerners," Daniel Pipes wrote in 1995, referring to militant Islam, "war has been unilaterally declared on Europe and the United States." Pipes, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, was one of the very few Americans to understand the significance of what to many appeared to be no more than isolated cases of violence. Long before September 2001, he publicly warned Americans that militant Islam had gone to war against America. Now Americans are listening to him.

Pipes here presents the results of his research, dividing his work into two key subjects. First, he explains what exactly militant Islam is and stresses the large and crucial difference between Islam, the faith, and militant Islam the ideology. He demonstrates that there is no clash of civilizations underway, but a battle for the soul of Islam among Muslims themselves. He shows that militant Islam is not mainly caused by poverty and that its adherents, far from being the dispossessed, tend to include the more talented and Westernized elements. Militant Islam has strikingly much in common with fascism and communism. Indeed, Pipes demonstrates that the U.S. government has, without realizing it, become a patron of the Islamic faith by helping Muslims spread their message.

Secondly, Pipes takes up the relatively new subject of Islam in the United States, and how it has rapidly developed in the last decade. Significant elements within American Islam, for example, seek to replace the Constitution with the Qur'an. Americans can write far more candidly now about Jesus more easily than about Muhammad, as various writers and journalists have learned to their surprise. Despite widespread claims that American Muslims face discrimination, they enjoy a higher socio-economic standing than the national average. Jamil Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown), despite being sentenced to life without parole for murdering a black police officer, has been celebrated by many of the country's leading Muslim organizations.

Pipes concludes that, like it or not, the United States is now party to the difficult task of modernizing Islam globally; he argues that this is the ultimate aim of the war on terrorism. Militant Islam Reaches America is one of the most important and readable books about the great issues that now confront America.

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Critics on Militant Islam Reaches America

"Pipes is a natural polemicist, and his collection of essays is engagingly written. His deconstruction of the dubious criminal career of former Black Panther and Muslim "activist" H. Rap Brown, a k a Jamil Al-Amin, and a particularly enjoyable jeremiad against the leftist notion that poverty incubates militant Islam, are worth the price of admission alone." read full review...
- Peter L. Bergen, The Washington Post, July 28, 2002

"As a professional historian and trained Arabist, he regards Islamism as a global menace. But he finds its zeal, animus, organization and technology thoroughly modern and familiar, despite the conspicuous display of beards, caftans and turbans.
For Mr. Pipes the Islamist version of Islam is just another modernizing anachronism. To him its churchlike hierarchy, quasi-papal ayatollahs, quasi-sabbatarian Friday, even unexpected hints of feminism, look remarkably like unacknowledged Westernisms. The real analogues of Islamism, in Mr. Pipes's view, are 20th-century products, too: the great totalitarian heresies, fascism and Communism.
One of the book's most interesting pieces compares Western responses to Islamism and Communism. Mr. Pipes makes a strong case that Left and Right have approached both with impressive consistency. But sturdy, well-connected neo-conservative that he is, he argues just as forthrightly that the Left has been consistently wrong." read full review...
- David Schoenbaum, The New York Times, August 28, 2002

"An "insightful and often prophetic set of essays" read full review...
- Robert Satloff, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2003

"An extraordinarily useful compendium of basic information and analysis that is easily readable by the non-specialist, yet engaging for scholars as well." read full review...
- James S. Robbins, National Review, November 25, 2002

"Blunt and passionate." read full review...
- Judith Miller, The New York Times Book Review, September 29, 2002

"American decision makers, security officials and the general public should read Pipes's book." read full review...
- Boaz Ganor, The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2003

"Great book."
- Chris Matthews, Hardball with Chris Matthews, August 14, 2002

"An extraordinary, important book."
- Lou Dobbs, Lou Dobbs Moneyline, August 29, 2002

Advance Praise for Militant Islam Reaches America

"Unlike other Middle-East experts, Daniel Pipes did not need to reinvent himself or revise his opinions after September 11th. Like so many other events in the Middle East over the years, September 11th bore out the truth of his earlier analyses. Few have been less embarrassed by events than Pipes."
- Robert Kaplan, Author of Warrior Politics and Balkan Ghosts

"Daniel Pipes has been warning us for years that militant Islam has declared war on the West and that its legions are already present in the West. Militant Islam Reaches America brilliantly demonstrates how Pipes knows his subject, providing us with a rarely-seen window into a subterranean world that poses a clear and present danger to us all."
- Steven Emerson, author of American Jihad

Other Language Editions


L'islam radical à la conquête du monde
Le Coudray-Macouard: Editions Cheminements, 2008.
Available at Amazon.

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