Cameron Guest Posts at Jihadology
Charles Cameron ventures forth to conquer new blogworlds:
GUEST POST: Hitting the Blind-Spot- A Review of Jean-Pierre Filiu’s “Apocalypse in Islam”
Jean-Pierre Filiu’s book, Apocalypse in Islam (University of California Press, 2011) makes a crucially important contribution to our understanding of current events – it illuminates not just one but a cluster of closely-related blind-spots in our current thinking, and it does so with scholarship and verve.
Al-Qaida’s interest in acquiring nuclear weapons – and Iran’s – and the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear materiel – and the situation in Jerusalem – depending how you count ‘em, there are a half dozen or so glaring world problems where one spark in the Mahdist underbrush might transform a critical situation. And yet as Ali Allawi put it in his talk to the Jamestown Foundation on Mahdism in Iraq a few years back, Mahdists ferments still tend to be “below our radar”.
People are always talking about unintended consequences: might I suggest that blind-spots are where unintended consequences come from – and offer some background on apocalyptic, before proceeding to discuss Filiu’s contribution?
We already have a tendency to dismiss religious drivers in considering current events, having concluded in many cases that religion is passé for the serious-minded types who populate diplomatic, military and governmental bureaucracies world-wide – and we are even more reluctant to focus on anyone who talks about the Last Days and Final Judgment, despite the presence of both in the faith statements and scriptures of both Islam and Christianity. We think vaguely of cartoons of bearded and bedraggled men with sandwich boards declaring The End is Nigh, and move along to something more easily understood, something conveniently quantitative like the number of centrifuges unaffected by Stuxnet in Iran, or purely hypothetical, like the association of Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan.
January 24th, 2011 at 9:28 pm
I hope to have a somewhat differently-angled review of the same book here shortly — my focus here will include more on the Shi’ite aspects and implications of Filiu’s book, whereas Aaron’s blog is more tightly focused on Salafist jihad.
Obviously, I think Filiu has written a very important book.
January 24th, 2011 at 10:02 pm
Charles, I would submit there is more than a "tendency to dismiss religious drivers," and suggest there is a pervasive discounting of religion among the "serious-minded," so called. IMHO Americans, as a rule, have rejected those aspects of Christianity that would distinguish the "believer" from others, and in so doing, have marginalized/compromised the legitimacy of their beliefs—we should not be surprised when others follow suit.
January 25th, 2011 at 12:08 am
Well, it’s a complex business, Scott.
There are the seculars who dismiss all religion as a sort of hangover from which we as rational, post enlightenment folk will soon tire of, and there are the religious whose religion is a somewhat social affair with not enough dynamism to give them insight into how deeply committed the followers of another religion — or another branch of their own — may really be, and there are those whose religion predisposes them to discount the religion of others because it is and must be demonic… and maybe others whose character I haven’t discussed…
and there are theories that particular manifestations of religion are politics in religion’s clothing…
It’ll frankly take a book for me to lay out all the details and nuances of the situation as I see them — but for here and now, my point is that we overlook apocalyptic expectations at our peril.
January 25th, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Compare and Contrast…
There are two contrasting points of view in the West on the nature of Islam and the problems it presents. The more prevalent view, adopted by the Bush administration and emphasized by the Obama administration, is that Islam is basically……
January 25th, 2011 at 6:14 pm
I’m not sure what you’re suggesting…
January 25th, 2011 at 7:04 pm
Oh, ah — I didn’t get it at first, but that’s the beginning of a blog post at ShrinkWrapped. I’ll go read…