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Crusade and Jihad: The Thousand-Year War Between the Muslim World and the Global North

Crusade and Jihad
  • Book Title:
 Crusade And Jihad
  • Book Author:
William R. Polk
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  • ·         Introduction
  • Part One
  • 1 The Social, Economic, and Cultural Bases of Islam 2 Muhammad the Messenger and His Message
  • The Caliphate and the Conquests
  • The Great Days of the Caliphates and the Evolution of Islam 5 The North Moves South
  • Part Two
  • 6 Sultan Selim III, Napoleon, and Mehmet Ali 7 French Invasion and Algerian Resistance
  • 8 The British Conquest of India and the Sepoy Revolt 9 Chechen Imam Shamil Resists Russian Imperialism
  • 1O Bankers on Horseback
  • Sudanese Mahdiyah and the British Conquest
  • Sanusiyah Imam Umar al-Mukhtar against Italian Genocide 13 The Riff War and Abd al-Karim in Morocco
  • The Aceh War and Dutch Imperialism
  • Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and the Muslim Awakening
  • Part Three
  • 16 The Struggle to Define Identity
  • 17 The First Iranian Revolution 18 The First World War
  • 19 The Postwar Middle East
  • 2O Palestine, the Much Promised Land 21 Turkey and Atatürk
  • Reza Shah of Iran
  • Islam in India and the Formation of Pakistan 24 Kashmir, the Palestine of Central Asia
  • Islam in Southeast Asia
  • Afghanistan’s Centuries of Resistance 27 The Silk Road
  • 28 The Algerian Revolution 29 Nasser and Arabiyah
  • 3O Saddam Husain and Iraq
  • Part Four


  • 31 Iran, the Revolutionary Shiah Muslim State 32 The Muslim Brotherhood
  • 33 The Philosopher of the Muslim Revolt, Sayyid Qutb 34 Palestine: Wars, Diaspora, and Failed State
  • 35 Hizbullah, Stateless Nation 36 Gaza and Hamas
  • The Uyghurs and Chinese Islam
  • Part Five
  • The Moro “Rebellion” in the Philippines 39 Somalia, the “Failed State,”
  • 4O Boko Haram and Nigeria
  • 41 Usama bin Ladin and al-Qaida 42 The Islamic State
  • Part Six
  • Trunks and Tails
  • What the North Did to the South 45 What the South Did to Itself
  • 46 Where We Are Now and Where We Can Go
  • Notes Glossary
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index


I believe that an author owes his reader several obligations. First, he should reveal how he learned what he writes. Second, he should say why what he writes about is worth reading. Third, he should provide a sort of roadmap on the themes that tie together the events he describes. And fourth, he should make clear the theses he puts forward. Here I will try to honor my obligations to you.

I am writing from the perspective of nearly seventy years of research and observation. I have lived in or visited the countries I examine and have had the opportunity to discuss their inhabitants’ thoughts and actions with a number of leaders, journalists, academics, government officials, and such wise observers as taxi drivers and shopkeepers.

My vision has been affected, for better or for worse, by studying at a number of universities—including Oxford, Harvard, the American University of Beirut, and the University of Baghdad—teaching students and interacting with colleagues at Harvard and the University of Chicago and lecturing or attending conferences and symposiums at more than twenty other American universities and such organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Sciences Po, the Institute of World Economy and International Affairs of the (then) Soviet Academy of Sciences, the Middle East Institute, the American Association of Middle Eastern Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ventilating my opinions among them brought forth suggestions and criticisms that have been of great value in the refinement of my own.

As president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs, I had sustained contact over years with the institute’s fellows. They included men and women of extraordinary experience and great knowledge, including former UN secretary general U Thant, Lord Caradon of the British Foreign Office, soon-to-be prime minister Evgeni Primakov of Russia, former deputy prime minister Abdel Keyeum of Afghanistan, former foreign minister of Ghana Fed Arkhurst, former commander of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) General Indar Rikkye, former vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank and later mayor of Bogota Enrique Peñalosa, founder and head of the UN Environment Program Maurice Strong, Governor Pat Brown of California, and nearly a hundred others. They generously shared their experiences with me. The institute was what a research center should be—a multiyear intellectual feast to which everyone brings a “dish” and at which everyone tastes all the dishes. I profited far more than I gave.

Among the journalists who have been close friends and with whom I exchanged ideas and information were Said Aburish, Michael Adams, Uri Avnery, John Cooley, Charles Glass, Johannes Gross, David Halberstam, Seymour Hersh, Peter Jennings, Murray Kempton, William Pfaff, Jon Randal, Eric Rouleau, Peter Scholl-Latour, Patrick Seale, Neil Sheehan, and Howard K. Smith. They enormously broadened the range of my contacts and kept me up to date.

During my four years of government service, as a member of the Policy Planning Council, I benefited from frequent exchanges with practically every senior member of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and particularly with McGeorge Bundy and Robert Komer of the National Security Council; Governor Chet Bowles, Governor Averill Harriman, Roger Hilsman, Thomas Hughes, Walt Rostow, and James Spain at the State Department; Sherman Kent at the Office of National Estimates at the CIA;

Fowler Hamilton and his staff at USAID; and William Bundy and Robert McNamara at the Defense Department. I also worked with a number of senators, including Frank Church, Thomas Eagleton, William Fulbright, Hubert Humphrey, and George McGovern; in the House with John Brademas; and with Supreme Court justices William Douglas and Abe Fortes.

Both in government and in my personal capacity, I was fortunate to deal with and get to know a range of kings, presidents, prime ministers, and other officials, as well as scholars, journalists, and businessmen of the countries I address in this book.

Over the years, I have written a number of books that were, incidentally, background studies for this book. They include The United States and the Arab World; Neighbors and Strangers: The Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; The Elusive Peace: The Middle East in the Twentieth Century; Violent Politics: Guerrilla Warfare and Terrorism; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change; and others.

I wrote this book because I find that none of the books now available deals comprehensively with the Muslim world and its encounters with the former imperial states. Each deals with parts of them. This is not a criticism; I have done the same. But narrowing the focus necessarily misses the overview. So here I have set out to deal with the whole Muslim world and its relationship with what I call “the North of the world.” This is what Muslims themselves do.

They are aware of shared experiences and the interconnected nature of their lives. The reader will see that experiences have been shared from Morocco to Indonesia and from Bukhara to Nigeria. This has always typified the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, the gathering of the people of the Muslim world.

The sharing of ideas and experiences took on a new dimension in the nineteenth century with the advent of the press, magazines, and broadsheets. Today it is most evident in the movement of mujahidin. Men and women from all over the Muslim world engage in actions far from their native lands. Juxtaposing the different parts of the Muslim world brings out a new dimension of their separate and collective experiences.

In my quest for understanding—not necessarily agreement but always understanding—I have tried to be comprehensive when being so elucidates the main theme but have tried not to wander into digressions that add little. In short, I have tried to differentiate the necessary from the merely interesting. Since so much of the history of recent times is filled with conflict between European powers and Muslim societies, I give enough information in short synopses to set each insurgency in context and make clear what provoked it and how the two sides reacted.

The following is a sort of roadmap to the subjects and themes I address. Part 1 describes both the advent of Islam in a remote desert of Arabia

and its development into one of the great religious movements of all time. I show how a tribal society was unified by Muhammad and in the seventh century was turned into a force that conquered the two superpowers of its time, Byzantium (or eastern Rome) and Sasanian Iran. In turn, it established great centers of a new civilization from Spain to India. They were the glory of the Middle Ages. But, as they lost their vigor and splintered, they were nearly overwhelmed by the Mongol invasion under Genghis Khan and his successors in the thirteenth century. From defeat and destruction, they attempted to find their way back to the original creed and simultaneously recast their religion in Sufism.

In Part 1, I also introduce the overarching theme of the book: the conflict, long in existence and still present to this day, between the North (the relatively rich, advanced, and formerly imperial powers) and the South (the relatively poor, traditional, mostly former colonial peoples—here, specifically those of the Muslim world). I focus here on the nature of imperialism and on how the South has acted or reacted to it.

I give short historical synopses because the experiences of the peoples of the South are not generally known among us in the North. Even in our study of history, we are children of the movies. They have proven to be far better communicators than textbooks.

Indeed, the movies often provide the only history we know. But they come at a price: they simplify and distort, so what we get is often a false impression. When we think of the century of warfare on the Northwest Frontier (the unconquered area between Afghanistan and Pakistan), we are guided by Rudyard Kipling. It is Sean Connery as “the man who would be king,” not the people he would rule, who catches our attention. In Morocco it is Gary Cooper in Beau Geste.

We all know that the Arab struggle for independence was the work of Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia. In Black Hawk Down, our decent, brave, clean-cut young men valiantly defended themselves against vicious hordes of savages.

It is not easy for us in the North to understand history as experienced by the peoples of the South. Drama requires heroes, and those we remember are our people, not theirs. They are the fanatics; the sinister, dark people; the benighted natives; a mass, not individuals. The only exception I can think of is Anthony Quinn’s portrayal of the great Libyan guerrilla leader Umar al-Mukhtar, who struggled against and was hanged by Benito Mussolini’s Italian Fascists.

Al-Mukhtar was, in fact, one of many heroes of the peoples of the South. So, as we look at our shared past, we in the North see a different pattern from that seen in the South. I try here to bring them back to life so as to understand the history of their peoples.

Academicians may dismiss this focus on popular entertainment. But even when scholars set about their serious endeavors, they also, at least until recently, took a “Northern” view. Most academicians in America and…

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