Bedside Reading: Week 1
I’ve been plotting ways that I might make this blog more active, and lately I’ve been doing some bedside reading. This means that I’ve been reading before I go to sleep (or stare at my eyelids for those who don’t do much of the former), and what better way to increase posting than to have a review and recommendation of a bedside book weekly? In these sorts of posts I would like to review the book that I read the week prior, and then end by saying which book I’ll be reviewing the following week.
Bedside books are light reads because who’s going to read Plantinga at bedtime for any other reason than to cure insomnia? They’ll generally be books that are philosophical or religious in nature, but not too exhaustive or difficult. Hopefully they will all be enjoyable books to read, and so I’ll attempt to make sure what I am reading and reviewing is something you, my curious reader, would want to read before you hit the hay.
Last week I read Islam and Terrorism by Mark A. Gabriel. Mark was once a devout Muslim who lived in Egypt and taught Islamic history at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He tells his story from his discovery of the radical roots in Islam to his flight from Islam into Christianity. Most of the book is a retelling of early Islamic history, Mark’s own story, the beginnings of radical Islamic terrorism in Egypt, and the subsequent ripple effect that the jihadists have had on the world. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is his exposition on the beginnings of radical Islamic terrorism. Egypt was where modern Islamic radical terrorism began, but Mark reminds the reader throughout the book that the beginning of jihadist terrorism was to be found in the actions and commands of Muhammad.
I was fascinated while reading that one of the reasons, perhaps the biggest reason, there was an Iran-Iraq war was because Saddam Hussein and other arab nations did not want the radical terrorist groups breeding in Iran to spread to the other arab nations, and specifically to Iraq itself. Iran was a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism, and the Islamic terrorists had a very earnest desire to destroy the secular governments set up in the Middle East. And it was extremely puzzling to read that what was called a secular government essentially meant any government that swayed, even slightly, from the law set up by Allah through Shari’ah. All manmade governments, says the radical, are to be destroyed and replaced with a proper and strict application of Shari’ah. Such a pronouncement by the radical ought to make any westerner tremble with fear. It was also interesting to discover the shift in radical Islam from focusing primarily on local Jihad to global Jihad (you can thank Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman for that).
Now, the prose in the book is extremely light and easy to read. It’s not witty, but it does get the point across univocally. The size of the text and occasional pictures make reading this a splendidly easy venture. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a survey of the history of Islamic terrorism including the context of verses in the Qur’an that endorse terrorism, and Mark’s own conversion to Christianity.
Next week I’ll have a review of Loving Wisdom: Christian Philosophy of Religion by Paul Copan.