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The Mind of Jihad


  • Page extent: 350 pages
  • Size: 234 x 156 mm
  • Weight: 0.63 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521883931)

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$76.99 (G)

This book examines contemporary jihad as a cult of violence and power. All jihadi groups, whether Shiite or Sunni, Arab or not, are characterized by a similar bloodlust. Murawiec characterizes this belief structure as identical to that of Europe’s medieval millenarians and apocalyptics, arguing that both jihadis and their European cousins shared in a Gnostic ideology: a God-given mission endowed the Elect with supernatural powers and placed them above the common law of mankind. Although the ideology of jihad is essentially Islamic, Murawiec traces the political technologies used by modern jihad to the Bolsheviks. Their doctrines of terror as a system of rule were appropriated by radical Islam through multiple lines of communication. This book brings history, anthropology, and theology to bear to understand the mind of jihad that has declared war on the West and the world.


1. 'We love death'; 2. 'An elite of amoral supermen'; 3. The Gnostic Mahdi; 4. Manichean tribalism; 5. The odd pedigree of modern jihad; 6. The mutated virus: 'Islamic Revolution'; 7. Jihad as terror.


“An unsparing study of Islamic Radicalism, anchored in the data and the histories of Islam’s movements. Laurent Murawiec has produced a work of genuine and subtle learning, a book that situates Islamism in the broader context of millenarian movements the world over. I believe that this is a work that will make for itself a sure place in the Writings on Islamic Radicalism. An author at once brave and disciplined.”
-Fouad Ajami, Johns Hopkins University

“Murawiec argues that the intellectual lineage of Modern Jihad goes beyond its proximate causes and alleged grievances; he shows that its ideological roots run deep in history, in culture, in heresy and in its affinity to the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. His thesis will anger some and challenge others, but it will have to be taken seriously by anyone wanting to understand modern terror.”
-Mark T. Clark, California State University, San Bernardino, President of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa

“Laurent Murawiec draws on a remarkable range of historical, religious, ideological and ideational sources. The breadth and insight of his treatment deserve comparison with the work of Bernard Lewis, while breaking new ground in shaping our understanding of the contemporary jihad movement and in particular what Murawiec describes as, ‘the etiology of such a love of death, a worship of blood, a cult of violence.’ This is a sophisticated, original, yet highly readable book, unflinching in its description and analysis. Murawiec makes the case that the structure of violent jihadist ideology mirrors the millenarian insurrections that wreaked havoc in Europe from 1100 to 1550. Those movements arose under conditions of intense social dislocation caused by rapid change and which triggered individual and societal disorientation, anomie and loss of confidence in established religion and authority. By implication, some of the same deep societal impulses have been at work in contemporary Arab Muslim societies.”
-Robert J. Lieber, Georgetown University

“Wars are first fought in the mind before they are fought on the battlefield. Understanding one's enemy, beginning with the fact that an enemy exists with intelligible world historical ambitions, is the first principle of war and peace. Laurent Murawiec’s detailed The Mind of Jihad is a book many will not want to know about; it is too detailed, too sweeping, too accurate to leave much room for doubt about the nature and seriousness of purpose of those who in fact war against us with dedicated purpose. Murawiec writes clearly, frankly. His intended audience includes Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Chinese, and all, scholarly or ordinary, who seek to come to grips with the intellectual origins and purposes of the Jihad, including especially those who recently insist that the word cannot be used among us, its primary objects.”
-James V. Schall, S. J., Georgetown University

" With its grim detail and relentless documentation of human cruelty and savagery, this is a difficult, but important book to read"
- Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

“Readers find help in this timely book. It contains a proper diagnosis, without which there will not be a proper healing. According to Murawiec, jihad — fateful and shrouded in darkness — like a Sphinx transfixes us. The common analysis of jihadism in Washington, the author laments, suffers from being mono-causal and ahistorical. The expressions ‘war on terror’ and ‘terrorism’ merely focus on the tool, but fail to capture the essence of terror as continuation of politics and a system of power.”
Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, The Middle East Journal

“Laurent Murawiec’s The Mind of Jihad offers a different perspective. Discounting both the grievance and Islam-as-innately-violent models, Murawiec explores certain untapped areas of research in order to show correlations between radical Islam and any number of uniquely Western concepts and patterns, both philosophical and historical.”
Raymond Ibrahim, The Weekly Standard and Middle East Forum

“While a comprehensive examination of Israeli society is beyond the scope of the book, the authors intend to provide the reader with some ‘snapshots’ of significant events, decisions, and developments that have played a role in Israel’s ongoing search for self-identity. Specific attention is given to changing demographics and the interaction between the various segments of Israeli society that include national, ethnic, and religious groups. The authors also examine various shocks to the system, including the first and second Lebanon wars, the first and second Intifadas, and the peace process of the 1990s.”
Maxwell Martin, Middle East Journal

“Terrorists are produced by a totalitarian ideology justifying terrorism. That is its ‘root cause.’…This, then, is the book for those who wish to explore the ‘root cause’ in the ideas that give moral legitimacy to Islamist terrorism…Murawiec’s research into the working relationship between the Soviet Union and Islamism is original and startling…The Mind of Jihad takes the discussion precisely in the direction in which it needs to go if we are to understand and prevail in this new war of ideas.”
-Robert R. Reilly, American Foreign Policy Council, Claremont Review of Books

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