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Beyond Fundamentalism
Cover of Beyond Fundamentalism
Beyond Fundamentalism
Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization
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“A very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism” (The Washington Post) from the bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer
The wars in the Middle East have become religious wars in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. The hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting in the name of God. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with its own religiously polarizing rhetoric, is fighting a similar war—a war that can’t be won. 
Beyond Fundamentalism is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling militants throughout the Muslim world and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At a time when religion and politics increasingly share the same vocabulary and function in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie at its root.
How do you win a religious war? By refusing to fight in one.
Featuring new content and updated analysis • Originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War
 
“[A] thoughtful analysis of America’s War on Terror.” The New Yorker
 
“Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism.”The Washington Post
 
“[Reza] Aslan dissects a complex subject (terrorism and globalization) and distills it with a mix of narrative writing, personal anecdotes, reportage and historical analysis.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad.”Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] meaty analysis of the rise of Jihadism . . . dispels common misconceptions of the War on Terror age.”San Jose Mercury News
 
“It is Aslan’s great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion

“A very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism” (The Washington Post) from the bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer
The wars in the Middle East have become religious wars in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. The hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting in the name of God. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with its own religiously polarizing rhetoric, is fighting a similar war—a war that can’t be won. 
Beyond Fundamentalism is both an in-depth study of the ideology fueling militants throughout the Muslim world and an exploration of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At a time when religion and politics increasingly share the same vocabulary and function in the same sphere, Aslan writes that we must strip the conflicts of our world of their religious connotations and address the earthly grievances that always lie at its root.
How do you win a religious war? By refusing to fight in one.
Featuring new content and updated analysis • Originally published as How to Win a Cosmic War
 
“[A] thoughtful analysis of America’s War on Terror.” The New Yorker
 
“Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism.”The Washington Post
 
“[Reza] Aslan dissects a complex subject (terrorism and globalization) and distills it with a mix of narrative writing, personal anecdotes, reportage and historical analysis.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad.”Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] meaty analysis of the rise of Jihadism . . . dispels common misconceptions of the War on Terror age.”San Jose Mercury News
 
“It is Aslan’s great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion

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Excerpts-
  • From the book CHAPTER ONE
    The Borderless Self

    Ben-Gurion International Airport is a brash, beautiful, strikingly confident construction that, like much of Tel Aviv, looks as though it might have sprouted fully formed from the desert sands of the old Arab port city of Jaffa. Named after the surly general and chief architect of the state, the airport is a testament to Israel's self-ascribed position as a bastion of social and technological advancement amid a sea of inchoate enemies. In fact, Ben-Gurion's primary function seems to be to filter out those very enemies by tightly controlling access to the state. This is true of all international airports, I suppose, as anyone who has undergone the humiliation of being scanned, fingerprinted, and photographed to be allowed entry into the United States post-9/11 can attest. In the modern world, airports have become a kind of identity directory: the place where we are most determinately defined, registered, and catalogued before being apportioned into separate queues, each according to nationality.

    Still, Israel has, for obvious reasons, taken this process to new and unprecedented heights. I am not two steps off the plane when I am immediately tagged and separated from the rush of passengers by a pimpled immigration officer in a knitted yarmulke.

    "Passport, please," he barks. "Why are you here?"

    I cannot tell him the truth: I want to sneak into Gaza, which has been sealed off for months. In 2006, when Palestinians were offered their first taste of a free and fair election, they voted overwhelmingly for the religious nationalists of Hamas over the more secular yet seemingly inept politicians of Fatah, the party founded by Yasir Arafat in 1958. Despite having promised to allow the Palestinians self-determination, Israel, the United States, and the European powers quickly decided that Hamas, whose founding charter refuses to recognize the state of Israel and whose militant wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been responsible for countless Israeli military and civilian deaths, would not be allowed to govern. Gaza, the sliver of fallow land that has become Hamas's de facto stronghold, was cut off from the outside world. International aid dried up and a plan was put in place to, as The New York Times put it, "starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections" to the point where new elections would have to be held. This resulted in a violent rift between Hamas and Fatah that split the Occupied Territories in two: the West Bank, governed by Fatah with the aid of Israel and the international community, and Gaza, ruled by Hamas and isolated from the rest of the world, a prison with one and a half million hungry, fuming inmates.

    I wanted to visit the ruined village of Um al-Nasr, in northern Gaza, some miles away from lush Tel Aviv. A few months earlier, a number of villagers, including two toddlers, had drowned in what the press was calling a "sewage tsunami." The deluge had been triggered by the collapse of a treatment facility just above the village that had been slowly and steadily leaking sewage. For months the villagers of Um al-Nasr had pleaded with Israeli authorities to allow the importation of the pumps, pipes, and filters necessary to stem the flow. But Israel, rattled by a ceaseless barrage of crudely constructed rockets launched daily from Gaza, some of which were—in the sort of grim irony that can exist only in such a place—constructed from old sewage pipes, refused. The villagers built an earthen embankment around what was fast becoming a giant lake of human waste. But the embankment would not hold. On the morning of March 27, 2007, while most of the...
About the Author-
  • Reza Aslan is an acclaimed writer and scholar of religions whose books include No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism), as well as the editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three sons.
Reviews-
  • The New Yorker

    "[A] thoughtful analysis of America's War on Terror."

  • The Washington Post "Offers a very persuasive argument for the best way to counter jihadism."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "[Reza] Aslan dissects a complex subject (terrorism and globalization) and distills it with a mix of narrative writing, personal anecdotes, reportage and historical analysis."
  • Los Angeles Times "Aslan is not only a perspicuous, thoughtful interpreter of the Muslim world but also a subtle psychologist of the call to jihad."
  • San Jose Mercury News "[A] meaty analysis of the rise of Jihadism . . . dispels common misconceptions of the War on Terror age."
  • Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize--winning author of American Lion "It is Aslan's great gift to see things clearly, and to say them clearly, and in this important new work he offers us a way forward. He is prescriptive and passionate, and his book will make you think."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Beyond Fundamentalism
Beyond Fundamentalism
Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization
Reza Aslan
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