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ISSUES IN THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT

Edited by Kalim Siddiqui.

Toronto, Open Press, c1982.
Distributed by Open Press, 338 Hollygerry Trail, Willowdale, ON, M2H2P6.
408pp, paper, $24.95 (cloth), $10.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-9205081-10-2 (cloth), 0-9205081-11 -2 (paper).


Post-Secondary.
Reviewed by Donald M. Santor.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.


Shortly after the assassination of Anwar Sadat, I had a conversation with a high-ranking Muslim. His response to Sadet's death was "What did you expect? He had it coming to him." From the ethnocentric perspective of the westerner, I was appropriately shocked by his comment. I could not imagine the justification for what 1 felt was an insensitive and outrageous remark. After reading Issues in the Islamic Movement, I gained some insight that helps explain his response. It is still difficult to accept, but is at least a little more understandable.

Issues is a collection of 112 articles from the news magazine Crescent International. Arranged chronologically, they cover the period from August 15, 1980 to August 15, 1981. The articles were selected by Dr. Kalim Siddiqui, an Islamic fundamentalist and British journalist. Published in Toronto, Crescent International claims to be "the news magazine of the Islamic movement." According to Dr. Siddiqui "it has raised the standard of Muslim journalism in English to a point never reached before."

The introduction by Siddiqui provides an overview of the Islamic movement and the Iranian revolution. A sampling of the articles illustrates the range of subjects covered: "No Third World for UsóWe Are Muslim;" "The Defence of the Islamic State;" "The Islamic Movement's Challenge to Sadat;" "The Dead End of Capitalism;" "Who Wants Soviet Tanks in Poland?;" and "The Imam (Khomeini) Asserts the Revolution's Authority." A glossary explains the meaning of the more frequently used Islamic words, and an index enables the reader to locate specific topics.

Issues in the Islamic Movement, however, represents a relatively narrow Muslim point of view. The articles often contain kernels of truth, but because of faulty development, the reader might be inclined to question their credibility. For example, the articles frequently offer a distorted or simplistic view of the West.

         The Western civilization's highest value
         is the standard of living of Western
         man. The Western civilization has no
         other value.

Generalizations and exaggeration often weaken the argument being advanced.

         One basic characteristic of Western
         education is that it makes the individual
         arrogant and egocentric... Those who acquire
         prestigious professional qualifications such
         as medicine, law, and engineering never feel
         human again.

While this statement applies to some, sufficient evidence could soon be assembled to question its accuracy.

Bias, which borders on sarcasm, might incline the reader to dismiss valid arguments and points of view when they are presented.

         Upon his (Reagan's) election to the Presidency
         his children have got themselves married to their
         partners to give him respectability. Now Reagan wears
         the crown of Western civilization.

Or further:

         "The United States as an international gangster is being
         taken over by the best available gangsters at home."

Sometimes an issue is presented in an objective matter-of-fact manner, devoid of bias and invective. In an article entitled "Multinationals Prosper at Any Cost," the issue of baby milk powder as a substitute for breast feeding is forcefully and fairly presented. Regretfully, this kind of article is not the norm.

While the West deserves much criticism regarding the manner in which it conducts its domestic and foreign affairs, the widespread use of ridicule, invective, and sarcasm weaken the case being presented. Teachers and students deserve better.

It is, however, necessary to understand how the fundamentalist Muslim community views the West and the events that brought on and maintain the revolution in Iran. Used alone, the teacher and student would not have sufficient material to obtain a reasonable perspective.

The main value of Issues in the Islamic Movement is that it seems to provide a readable perspective on the Islamic movement through the eyes of the Islamic fundamentalist. The main weakness is that there are many gaps and many questions that need to be examined more methodically to enable the teacher and student to acquire a more balanced view of the issues.

A much better book is required to express the views of the Islamic fundamentalist on the Muslim movement, one that avoids the pitfalls of exaggeration, simplification, inaccuracy, and sarcasm. Muslims and non-Muslims alike could benefit from such a book.


Donald M. Santor, London Board of Education, London, ON.
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