Book Review: Holy Warriors

Holy warriors coverJihad, suicide bombers, ISIS, Syria, Paris, Brussels – the list of horrors associated with Islam is long and growing.  Since the beginning of the 21st century militant Islam has dominated the headlines. It has changed the world we live in and not for the better. A tolerant western society has been faced with an enemy it neither wants nor understands nor has the tools to defeat.

Many are quick of course to point out that the majority of the world’s Muslims are not extremists, fanatics, or dangerous however that leaves many grasping around for help in trying to understand those who are extremist, fanatical and most of all dangerous.

With that in mind, I read Holy Warriors: A fresh look at the face of extreme Islam . Through the lens of personal encounters with the Taliban in Afghanistan Frog & Amy Orr-Ewing introduce the reader to the strain of Islam that we have become unfortunately familiar with – radical Islam.

It opens with a brief introduction to the history and main elements of Islam before diving into the roots of radical Islam with plenty of real-life examples from the dusty streets of Afghanistan. They clearly make the case that it is not tenable to argue that extreme Islam is not Islamic or has no roots to the Qur’an, it clearly does. Extreme Islam is theologically rooted and eschatalogical in nature. That it should also not be seen as the only version of Islam is also plain. Christians must not fall into the trap of assuming that all Muslims secretly believe as the Taliban does for example, nor let Islam off the hook by pretending that they have no case to answer.

It’s a short book and given that it was written in 2002 is one that would be worthy of a much-needed update.  Often brevity is a strength, and this is an easy to read and accessible book. Christians would be much better informed for reading it yet in this case brevity is also a weakness. As an editor I think most books need 20 pages less, like most films would be better if they were 20 minutes shorter. This book needs 20 more pages both because of the importance of the subject and because the skill of the authors would mean reading a bit more would be no burden at all.

Time and time again as I read I thought how helpful it would be if this was updated and taking into account both the recent atrocities, the rise not just of the Taliban but of ISIS and perhaps a fuller treatment of the way Christians have and could respond.

One minor quibble is the ill-chosen commendation by Ravi Zacharias because this book is not an ‘inspiring’ book at all. It offers not call to action, no stirring to take a more radical course of action and because the main subjects of the book are not at all inspirational but instead rather pitiable. But this is a very informative book and as a result I recommend you read it.

 

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