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Review misses part of Salzman's thesis

Reader comment on item: The Middle East's Tribal Affliction

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Jan 25, 2008 at 02:45

This is a good review insofar as it summarizes Salzman's thesis regarding cultural aspects of the tribalism seen in the middle-east. It glosses over, however, Salzman's excellent discussion of Islam in the context of tribalism -- how Mohammed's leadership and the political system of Islam is an expression of, and expansion upon the primordial bedouin system, and how islam acts as the ideological and sociological glue that propagates this tribalism and extreme authoritarianism within a religious framework.

It may be a definitive work on the interface between culture and religion in the Islamic world (at least in the Arab Islamic world). It is not an alternate explanation of the jihadist mentality -- but it supplements and strengthens the growing literature on the roots of modern jihadism and Islamism in the core of Islam. Salzman does not restrict his scope to Islam itself, but accomplishes a cultural contextualization that, as the reviewer says, is probably the first genuine modernization of the work of Ibn Khaldun, and certainly is in the same vein, though not written from an Islamic perspective.

I haven't (yet) read the entire work, only some pre-published extracts that I found highly enlightening. I'm sure the book should be on the shelf of anyone deigning to understand what's really going on today and needs to go deeper than a legal and doctrinal knowledge of Islam (which, of course, is the basic prerequisite).


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Daniel Pipes replies:

While a 700-word summary cannot touch on all aspects of a book, I did glancingly refer to the Islamic aspect of Salzman's analysis when I note that his theory accounts for "Islam's 'bloody borders' – the widespread hostility toward non-Muslims."

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