The World Trade Center bombing, suicide attacks in Israel, the slaughter of tourists in Egypt and innocents in Algeria. One of the world’s great religions, Islam has become identified today with senseless bloodshed, its followers branded as irrational fanatics with a penchant for violence. Ours is the era of the “Islamic threat.” But another story remains to be told. Beyond the headlines, a transformation is under way in both the style and message of Islamic politics at the end of the twentieth century: a startling shift from militancy to democracy with vast implications for the West. Drawing on his years of reporting in more than a dozen countries of the Muslim world, Anthony Shadid charts the striking way in which the adolescence of yesterday’s Islamic militants is yielding to the maturity of today’s activists. Through interview and travelogue, he chronicles a new generation-in Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere-that is finding a more realistic and potentially more successful future through democratic politics. A crucial element of this change, and of Legacy of the Prophet , is his exploration of the failure of militant Islam in countries like Sudan and Iran, defeats that ironically may help make way for an alternative, democratic future. The transformation promises a better future for a region long ruled by soldiers and despots. For the West, it offers a compelling opportunity to find common ground with the Muslim world. But to do so, the book argues that we must make the difficult choice of supporting the emergence of democratic Islamic movements, possibly even allowing to come to power governments that, as it stands, have no love for the West. Legacy of the Prophet promises to redefine the debate over the future of political Islam.
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