The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were carried out by men steeped in a certain Islamic ideology, which has come to be called Islamism. In "A Fury for God", Malise Ruthven first reconstructs the events of September 11 and the war in Afghanistan. He traces the role of the idea of "jihad" and examines the permissibility of suicide in Islam. He reconstructs the world view of Islamist intellectuals like Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian thinker who has influenced an entire generation of radicals in the Arab world, notably Osama bin Laden. Ruthven highlights their obsessive attention to sexual matters. He also shows that it would be a mistake to treat these people as medieval fanatics: their attitude to modernity is dangerous and ambivalent. And in a changing analysis, the author exposes the crucial importance of the Saudi connection, the massive sponsorship of "fundamentalism" by an authoritarian tribal regime that has been tolerated by the international community for the sake of Western economic stability. Ruthven's identification of the ambiguities in Western policy is powerfully provocative.
Malise Ruthven is the author of Islam: A Very Short Introduction; Islam in the World; The Divine Supermarket; Shopping for God in America and A Satanic Affair: Salman Rushdie and the Wrath of Islam. A former writer and editor with the BBC s External Services, he has taught and lectured widely in Britain and the United States on religion and the Middle East. He has written for TLS, and Guardian, and divides his time between London and Normandy.