Roy, Olivier, [Echec de l'islam. English]. The failure of political Islam / Olivier Roy; translated by Carol Volk. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references ( p.). Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Roy, Olivier, [Echec de l' islam. English] The failure of political Islam 1 Olivier Roy; translated by Carol. download The Failure of Political Islam by Oliver Roy (ISBN: ) from site's Unlike Orientalists like Bernard Lewis, Olivier Roy's book sees Islamist.

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accounts such as Roy's “Failure of Political Islam” and Bayat's “Post http:// Roy demonstrates that the Islamic Fundamentalism of today is still the Third Worldism of the s: populist politics and mixed economies of. If you read only one book on political Islam, this should be it. Olivier Roy, an authority on the complex politics of Afghanistan, has turned his attention to the.

The "Orientalist" presupposition consists, among Western specialists or essayists, in defining a timeless "Islamic culture," a conceptual framework that structures both political life and urban architecture, the thought of the ulamas and of their detractors, and whose consequence would be the nonemergence of capitalism M. Weber and the absence of an autonomous space for politics and institutions B. A timeless civilization in which everything is interrelated and reflects a same structure, from the stucco arabesque to the legal treatise, but a civilization brutally confronted with the challenge of a modernity arisen from outside.

Secularity and politics are born of a closing in of Christian thought onto itself. This is not to deny that there has been some remarkable historical and political research addressing the birth of politics and the modern state. The "popularized" argument that is put forth, based on these works and aimed at Muslim intellectuals, is twofold: 1 parliamentary democracy, the ideology of human rights, and the law-based state are ethically desirable and economically more efficient; 2 historically, this configuration comes out of Christian Europe.

In postcolonial settings this argument is very badly received, and not only in Islamist or traditionalist circles. The Gulf War showed that even among secular, Westernized, and "democratic" Muslim intellectuals there was a conscious choice, whether tortured or enthusiastic, in favor of Saddam Husayn, who all agreed was a dictator. This passionate reaction implies an admission of failure: the absence of an alternative aside from a miracle, a sign from God.

It is this absence of an alternative thought that we should examine without anchoring it to "Islamic culture," which we imperceptibly tend to transform into a psychological category, especially since the self-satisfied defense of the Western model proposed for the benefit of the Third World and which also serves as a form of self-therapy after the Third-Worldism of the s has been divided, internally, by increasingly virulent debate about the crises of politics and values in Western societies.

We therefore need to break away from these mutually defensive arguments. The problem is comparativism.

The Failure of Political Islam

Comparativism thus risks isolating the two entities, ignoring not only their individual dynamics, but particularly the dialectic of the relationship between one and the other: this dialectic tends both to fix in the imagination differences that are more emblematic than real and to obscure their factual specificity.

While there is definitely an Islamic political corpus, from the traditionalist ulamas to the Islamists, it is difficult if not downright specious to posit a simple equivalency between a civilization and a history on the one hand and this corpus on the other.

But far from being inherently and originally marked by a lack, Islamic political thought is inscribed within a different configuration of the relationship between power and the law.

That this configuration is in turn a source of difficulties is not in doubt, but one must measure it in relation to its original meaning, not in relation to the Western state. What is original is the place of the sharia, Muslim law, with respect to power. The sharia has two characteristics: its autonomy and its incompletion.

The sharia does not depend on any state, on any actual, positive law, on any political decision; it thereby creates a space that is parallel to the political space, to power, which, it is true, can circumvent the sharia or manipulate it hence the The Failure of Political Islam strong theme of the corruption of the judge , but which cannot make it into something other than what it is: an autonomous, infinite commentary.

For the sharia does not depend on any official body, church or clergy; the fatwa, formal legal opinions that decide matters not mentioned in the text, are always pronounced in the here and now and can be annulled by a subsequent authority. While the basic precepts, as they are explicitly formulated, cannot be called into question, their extension is a matter of casuistics.

The work of the judge is not to apply a principle or a concept, but to bring the case before him back into the realm of what is already known. These two "weaknesses" in the sharia no institutional closure, no conceptual closure also make totalitarianism, understood as the absorption of the entirety of the social realm into the political realm, foreign to Islamic culture: its warning symptoms appear only when this culture is in shambles Iraq.

At the same time, no one can lay claim to Islam and simultaneously contest the sharia: secularity can result only from violence Ataturk's Turkey or from escheat, through a change in lifestyles and customs. The excess of state, which is latent in the place the state occupies in the West, is totalitarianism. Ethics, and not democracy, is the watchword of protest, clearing the way for every kind of populism.

This is how one must interpret the weakness of democratic demand in a Muslim country. It is not that there is an acquiescence in dictatorship, but that a different demand is made: first of all, the respect for Introduction.

Liberty is demanded in the sphere of the family, in the private sphere, and not in the political domain, where the value expected is justice.

These brief reflections aim to show that there are different configurations and problematics in the relationships between the state and society in Islamic and Western cultures. To investigate the first culture on the basis of the concepts of the second, elevated to the level of universality, can only bring to light an absence, a lack-the lack of a modern state-without making it clear that what prevents the emergence of this state the sharia and the horizontal bonds of solidarity groups is also what makes Islamic totalitarianism impossible.

This doesn't mean that I am equating the sharia with Western democracy: simply that comparativism must be viewed as a conclusion and not as a premise. It is a question of methodology. The Muslim responses to the "Orientalist" discourse are often stereotypical and can be sorted into three categories: 1 the nostalgia argument "it was Islam that brought civilization to the West" ; 2 rejection of the hypothesis "in what way are Western values superior?

The first two are defensive: they evade the question while accepting as fact that there is a modernity that produces its own values. The third constitutes the topic of this book. In fact both Islamism and the traditional fundamentalism of the ulamas have difficulty posing the real question: why does Western Orientalism study Islam sub specie aeternitatis, while approaching Western civilization as a "socio-historical configuration"?

The dominant corpus in Sunni Islamic culture, that of the ulamas, as well as those of the Salafist reformists and contemporary Islamists, conceive of Islam as timeless, ahistorical, and beyond criticism.

The Failure of Political Islam sons for the hegemony of the argument for "oneness" among Muslim scholars and intellectuals, a hegemony that entails the marginalization of other points of view; it is interesting to see that it is "Western" researchers who uncover the atypical thinkers of the Muslim world such as Ibn Khaldun , whose thought then becomes, in turn, suspect to many Muslim intellectuals.

But is it legitimate, considering the nonhistoricity that Islamic thought attributes to itself, to infer that Muslim societies are incapable of achieving political modernity? The Islamic Political Imagination We refuse to allow ourselves to establish a relationship of causality between, on the one hand, the manner in which the Islamic tradition thinks of politics and, on the other, the reality of the regimes and institutions in Muslim countries, or even to consider that one is a direct expression of the other.

Yet this tradition cannot help but have an effect. There exists unquestionably what one might call an "Islamic political imagination" in the sense of a horizon of thought , which recurs in the corpus of the ulamas and is explicit in the texts of the Salafists nineteenth-century reformers and the Islamists.

This "imagination" is not "Islamic culture," for we must be wary of unruly generalizations. There is another classical corpus philosophy ; there are other thoughts, other practices; there are intellectuals who think outside this horizon. But one need only skim the literature of the ulamas or the Islamists, or listen to the sermons in the mosques, to admit that there is an Islamic political imagination dominated by a single paradigm: that of the first community of believers at the time of the Prophet and of the first four caliphs.

Independently of its historical reality, this model offers the militants of political Islam an ideal for Muslim society. Islam was born as a sect and as a society, a political and religious community in which there existed neither institutions nor clergy nor specialized functions, and in which the Prophet Muhammad was the sole narrator and interpreter of a divine and transcendent law that governed all human activities.

This paradigm would definitively mark the relationships between Islam and politics even if the original community, nostalgia for which haunts Islamic political reflection, was never to be rebuilt. This paradigm of the original community, which rejects any internal segmentation ethnicities, tribes and derives its unity from a charismatic leader, would even be reinterpreted in secular fashion and included in Arab nationalist ideology. The nonseparation of the religious, legal, and political spheres is affirmed.

The sharia should be the sole source of law as well as the norm for individual behavior, both for the sovereign and for the simple believer.

Frequently bought together

The definition of an autonomous political space, with its own rules, its positive laws, and its own values, is prohibited. Finally, the state is never considered in terms of a territorialized nation-state: the ideal is to have a power that would rule over the entirety of the umma, the community of the faithful, while actual power is exercised over a segment of the umma whose borders are contingent, provisional, and incomplete.

It is thus commonplace to say that in the Islamic political imagination, no distinction is made between the religious and the political orders. This idea is one of the deep convictions of the political actors in contemporary Islam: on the basis of this fact alone, independently of any theological analysis of its validity, it should be taken seriously. We therefore should study the effect it produces on thought and political practice, and not consider it a necessary fact in the history and the actual political practice of Islam, which would mean an absence of a specifically political authority.

T h e Debate o n the State in Muslim Society According to the Orientalist perspective, the intellectual configuration described above has been an obstacle to the appearance of a political space and to the emergence of a modern state. But there are two problems we cannot circumvent: the appearance of a political space in the practice of power in classical Islam, and the nature of contemporary states in Muslim countries. In reality, since the time of the original community there has always been a de facto autonomous political space in the Muslim world: what has been lacking is a political thought regarding the autonomy of this space, which has therefore been perceived by the traditionalists as contingent and by the Islamists as deviant.

As early as the end of the first century of the hegira, a de facto separation between political power sultans, amirs and religious power the caliph was created and institutionalized. But this separation always resulted from a division that was different from the one that developed in the West.

No positive law emanates from the center of power: the sovereign reigns in the empirical, the contingent. Any intervention into the private sphere is perceived as arbitrary, precisely because social relationships, regulated by the sharia, are not supposed to be subject to arbitrariness and violence, contrary to the image of the capricious despot that Western chroniclers often sent home.

It is because Islam occupies the sphere of law and of social regulation that the power of the sovereign, even of a fair and good sovereign, cannot help but seem contingent and arbitrary, for he can intervene only in what is outside the domain of the sharia, and thus only in nonessential matters. There is, in Islam, a civil society indifferent to the state. There is no "Oriental despotism. The state, too, has a goal: to enable Muslims to live as good Muslims. I3 The state is an instrument and not an end in itself.

Thus treatises on Muslim law contain a section devoted to the exercise of power. The good sovereign is one who fulfills this function; the bad, one who exercises an "unjust tyranny" zulm. The sultan power in fact is not the caliph a successor to Muhammad , and yet the Muslim must obey the sultan if he institutes the sharia and defends the Islamic community against its enemies. The sultan is a sword sayf al-din, the "sword of religion," Introduction.

Similarly, his legitimacy is indirectly religious, in that he ensures the public good maslaha , enabling the believer to observe his religion: this legitimacy is symbolized by the right to coin money and to have the Friday prayer khutba said in his name. This configuration is meaningful for the "classical" period.

There is no question that it marks the imagination and beliefs of traditionalist mullahs. But if we look at recent history and at the nature of existing Muslim states, "Islamic culture" as applied to politics tends to lose a good deal of its pertinence: there are genuine historical developments in Muslim societies and the emergence of modern state tendencies in the early nineteenth century.

In the post-Weberian critiques of the state in Muslim countries, we find two analyses explaining its precariousness, its lack of legitimacy, and its seizure by solidarity groups asabiyya. The one Badie , as we saw earlier, views this as a consequence of "Islamic culture": the absence of an autonomous political sphere and the confusion between public and private spaces bring about a kind of neopatrimonial state. The other M.

Seurat explains it by the imported and recent nature of the modern state in the Middle East: "The modern state in the Middle East. Seurat's analysis applies perfectly to Syria and Iraq: a minority group the Alawis in Syria, the Sunni Takritis in Iraq first infiltrates the army, then takes over the state, which it turns against its own society dictatorship and massacres ; this state in fact lives from external predatory practices direct in the case of Lebanon, and, for a few months, of Iraq in Kuwait; indirect in the case of Syria, which cashes in on its power as a potential menace to obtain Saudi subsidies , from oil dividends Iraq ,and from taxes on foreign trade sale of export licenses, "farming out" sources of private revenue to The Failure of Political Islam dignitaries: drugs, customs, technical ministries.

But as Seurat emphasizes, Syria and Iraq are secular states, engaged in bloody battle with the Islamists.

Seurat's work, which refers constantly to Ibn Khaldun and not to the corpus of the ulamas, shows that the position of the state in the political configuration of the Middle East is not necessarily a consequence of "Islamic culture," but rather a "Third World" type of phenomenon, resulting from the brutal importation of the European model into a segmented and unstructured society. In fact, the patrimonial state, employed as a source of revenue by a group or a family, is a phenomenon that exists in every culture, from the Marcoses' Philippines to Mobutu's Zaire.

But can we generalize and say that the Middle Eastern state is simply an optical illusion? The contemporary Muslim world is no more the medieval Muslim world than the European state according to Machiavelli was that of Thomas Aquinas. There is a genuine history of the state in the Middle East, but this history is inseparable from the encounter with the West, which figures into the political makeup of the current Islamic world for better or for worse, just as it figures into Islamist thought and the consumer values of today's societies.

There is a historical process to the construction of states, dating from before colonialism Morocco, Egypt, Iran, and even Afghanistan.

In the nineteenth century, the latter three countries and the Ottoman Empire began a transformation of the state from the top down, based on the model of enlightened despotism and beginning with an army and the construction of a modern state sector schools, universities, and so on.

It is true that Europe continually broke the wings of these states, which were poorly implanted in any case. Military operations Egypt in , Iran in , the coup against Musaddiq in , growing indebtedness, the arbitrary erection of borders in and at other times have always shattered the impulse toward the construction of stable states.

The most recent war, the Gulf War, was not followed by an effort to restructure the political landscape: the same actors and the same regimes were used to reenact the same play according to a different strategic power relationship.

Nevertheless, as cynical as this policy is and as acerbic as the critiques of Arab intellectuals have been regarding the role of the West, one fact is undeniable: the nation-states currently existing in the Middle East have held up, with or without legitimacy. After each crisis, they again become the keys to negotiations; the longer they last, the more reality they acquire.

These states have resisted all the "pan. Arab nationalists have secularized the notion of the u m m a and in theory reject the territorialized state: Egypt whose official name from to was the "United Arab Republic" , Syria, and Iraq consider themselves to be parties, "regions," in a future Arab nation.

And yet all the plans to unite the most serious of which was the SyrianEgyptian union of have failed: each time there is a return to the preexisting states. Similarly, the exaltation of the Arab combat against Israel cannot hide the fact that each state pursues its own interests, to the detriment of the Palestinians if need be. The same is true of pan-Islamism: the Iraqi masses, who as Shiites are victimized by their own state, did not join the Iranian revolutionaries during the first Gulf conflict.

The latest Gulf crises saw the same states, the same leaders, the same borders reemerge, now legitimized by the peace proceedings. Since the Iranian revolution, the countries of the Middle East have experienced great stability in their regimes and leaders. Is this proof of the patrimonial nature of the state? Perhaps, but this is an insufficient explanation.

For even if these states hold together by the great personalization of their leaders, by the absence or weakness of a democratic space, by the disdain for rules of law, even if they have often been taken over by factions, by an asabiyya, and are based on an overabundant and corrupt bureaucracy, they exist. There are state mechanisms, sectors of the economy tied to the existence of the state, strata of the population in particular the new intelligentsia that live solely from the state, modern armies.

The failure of political Islam

The Failure of Political Islam military defeat, to remain in place. Even if these states maintain themselves mostly because of the weakness of the opposition, the lack of democratic "demand," or the separateness of the civil society, their persistence shows that there is a "state fact" more resistant to analysis and to events than was formerly believed. Regimes can change, but the states remain. The existence of these states is also fixed by the globalization of politics: the great powers and the United Nations guarantee the world map, thus the borders, thus the territories, and thus, ultimately, the states that incarnate them.

Territorialization, characteristic of the modern state, may not be inherent in the thought either of the "Islamic imagination" or of Arabism, but it is part and parcel of the balance of international forces. The Kuwaiti identity might have been weak before the Gulf War; now it is very real, especially since Kuwait is certain to subsist under the American umbrella. Today's political globalization operates in favor of the consolidation of the existing states.

Inclusion in a world order gives these states a sociopolitical consistency as well, no doubt, as a psychological reality in the minds of their "nationals. Their politics cannot be explained, as Seurat aptly demonstrates, without reference to the concept of the asabiyya, to segmentation and esprit de corps, which is to say to the establishment of clientele networks more concerned with their own prosperity than with that of the state. But these networks do not represent the permanence of a tradition behind a mere facade of modernity.

The structures of the traditional asabiyya were dismantled by urbanization, by the shuffling of society, by ideologization: they rebuilt themselves along different lines political patronage and economic mafias , but they may also disappear. The modern asabiyya are recompositions of the esprit de corps based on the fact of the state and the globalization of economic and financial networks; they are translations of a traditional relationship of solidarity into the modern realm.

The modern asabiyya are not merely the permanence of Introduction. Their space is no longer the grandfather's village but the modern city. The militia of Beirut may function as old urban asabiyya-the futuwwa, brotherhoods of bad boys who ensure order and "protection" in the areas poorly patrolled by the palace-while political parties may function as patronage networks around important notables, but these militia and these parties are still something other than the continuation of an old tradition: the stakes they represent, the type of activities they engage in with regard to international conflicts, the insertion of the bazaar into a globalized economy-all this makes them into something other than surviving remnants, the residue of tradition in modern times.

Even in a traditional society such as Afghanistan, the network that develops around a smalltime local commander, himself plugged into an "international" network for the circulation of goods arms, and sometimes drugs , is no longer the clan that existed before, but a recomposition of the traditional segmentation around a new political elite and the globalized flow of wealth.

Challenging the Orientalist vision of the state in Muslim countries are critics from three milieus in the Muslim world: the "Westernized" intellectuals those who accept the values of the modern state , the ulamas, and the Islamists. The first denounce not the Western model of the state, but the doubletalk by which the West does everything in its power to prevent the universal model it proposes from becoming reality.

This argument, which is often well founded, nonetheless carries with it an intellectual danger: that of blaming the foreigner for all one's problems. Segmentation is seen as a Western plot Berberism, Kurds.

The worse legacy of the West was no doubt to offer the Muslim people a ready-to-wear devil: conspiracy theory is currently paralyzing Muslim political thought. For to say that every failure is the devil's work is the same as asking God, or the devil himself which. The Failure of Political Islam is to say, these days, the Americans , to solve one's problems.

Among the ulamas, mullahs, and their followers, the historical evolution of the Muslim world has had little effect on the political imagination derived from the paradigm of the "Islamic society," a paradigm that also recurs in Islamist movements. The "Islamic political imagination" has endeavored to ignore or disqualify anything new.

Not that the ulamas have always fought innovation: on the contrary, by allowing sovereigns to render fatwa they legitimated the establishment of a new state order for which they would later be reproached by the Islamists ; however, aside from a segment of Shiite clergy, they simply neither developed a new form of thought nor integrated the new facts into their discourse. The atemporality of the mullahs' and ulamas' discourse is striking to this day.

History is something that must be endured; whatever is new is contingent and merits only a fatwa from time to time. Modernization exists side by side with the old discourse.

It notes, rightly, that secularity and nationalism are not ipso facto modernization. Islamist protest occurs in the name of the universality of the social body conceived of as the religious community against the particularism of the state, against segmentation, against both the new state-managed and the old tribal societies.

Islam is seen as the introduction of a universal outlook and the common good against particularism and communalism. The Islamists' reference to the original society and their rejection of history are not enough in and of themselves to mark their thought as archaic.

Another fundamentalist mode of thought, Introduction. Referring to the Tradition with a capital T of the Prophet allows one to evade the tradition issued from history and thus to integrate a modernity which is no longer a purely external phenomenon, as it is for the Salafists, but which is a fact of Muslim society.

But does Islamist thought fulfill its program? This is the subject of our inquiry. In my view, it has failed because Islamist thought, at the end of an intellectual trajectory that tries to integrate modernity, ultimately meets up with the "Islamic political imagination" of the tradition and its essential premise: politics can be founded only on individual virtue.

The Internalized West With respect to the effect of Western domination, it is necessary to examine not only the economic and political structures of the contemporary Muslim world political backwardness would thus be an effect of neocolonialism, evoking emotional identification with the urnrna even at the price of secular dictators such as Saddam Husayn but also the thought of this world, the conceptual framework of Islamist intellectuals.

One thing is indeed striking: most Islamists were educated in a "Westernized" environment, yet they hold to the corpus of the ulamas whom they accuse in passing of having poorly managed this corpus. All their literature insists on the rationality of religious prescriptions; this militant rationalism is a sign that modernity has worked its way into the very heart of Islamist discourse, which is so rationalist that it ends up denying its own religious practices.

But does Islamist discourse truly dominate the Muslim world? In addressing this question we should consider neither the number of books published nor the opinions of professors or journalists, but the networks through which these works are distributed, and the places and languages in which they are written-in other words, the public that is touched by them.

The publication and distribution networks are financed today by conservative, often Saudi milieus. Aside from some ephemeral Marxist writings, and at least with respect to the Arab world, it is as if the only audience for Westernized Muslim intellectuals writing within the framework of the modern social sciences were in fact within the Western world.

On the Indian subcontinent, "modern" Muslim intellectuals write in English, leaving the writings for the masses, whether Islamist or neofundamentalist, in Urdu. We will no doubt witness the same phenomenon in central Asia, where Russian will long remain the language of the social sciences. The Maghreb is divided into three languages French, literary Arabic, and Arabic dialect : in choosing a language, one chooses an audience.

Only Turkey, Iran, and Egypt produce social science texts in the vernacular. In France, and especially in the United States, we are witnessing an astonishing "brain drain" of non-Islamist intellectuals, particularly in the social sciences. They will not be the ones to open up the ulamas' corpus. The modernity they brought to the reading of Islam exhausted itself in a repetitive, uncritical and undemonstrative defense of Islam, which for them has answers to all the problems of the modern world.

The Tehran of the mullahs has a very American look. Modernization occurred, but outside any conceptual framework: it happened through rural exodus, emigration, consumption, the change in family behavior a lower birthrate , but also through the cinema, music, clothing, satellite antennas, that is, through the globalization of culture.

It also occurred through the establishment of states that, fragile, corrupt, and clientele oriented though they may be, are nonetheless profoundly new in their method of legitimation, their social base, and their division into territories frozen by international agreements.

Protest against the West, which includes contesting the existing states, is on the same order as Western ecology or anti-immigrant arguments: they are arguments one propounds when it is too late. Just as France will never return to a preindustrial society, and its immigrants are there to stay, so Muslim cities will never return to the harmony of the bazaar and of guilds.

It is a hybrid world, a world of nostalgia. Only when it is too late do we dream of the past, and then our dreams incorporate everything we want to deny. The tradition of which the nostalgic dream, like the tradition condemned by modernists, never existed. But Islamism's ultimate failure in its attempt to address modernity doesn't prevent modernity from turning into sociological facts and movements.

Modernity creeps into Muslim countries regardless of Islam, and the Islamists themselves play a part in this secularization of the religion. They are a stage toward the "disenchantment of the world. For they borrow from this modernity the refusal to return to the real tradition in the name of an imaginary Tradition: they reject popular religious practice, the village, Sufism, philosophy.

They themselves deny and undermine what is and was Muslim civilization and ensure the triumph of fast food halal, of course-religiously correct , of jeans, Coke, and English.

The urban culture in the ethnological sense of the Islamists strikingly resembles that of any modern Western suburb.

And the reinvention of a vestiary tradition The Failure of Islamism. In retrospect, it appears that the political action of the Islamists, far from leading to the establishment of states or of Islamic societies, falls in either with the logic of the state Iran , or with traditional, if reconfigured, segmentation Afghanistan. No matter what the actors say, any political action amounts to the automatic creation of a secular space or a return to traditional segmentation.

Herein lies the limit of the politicization of a religion, of any religion. Our problem, then, is not to survey to what extent Islam allows for a secular space in its texts and age-old practice this would pose considerable problems of methodology and amounts to returning to the conceptual categories of those whom one is critiquing , but to study a coherent ensemble, limited in time and space, of texts, practices, and political organizations that deeply marked the political life of The Failure of Political Islam Muslim countries and their relationships with the countries of the North, while tending to alter the Muslims' perception of Islam in a stricter moral direction.

The thought of the movements we are studying oscillates between two poles: a revolutionary pole, for whom the Islamization of the society occurs through state power; and a reformist pole, for whom social and political action aims primarily to re-Islamize the society from the bottom up, bringing about, ipso facto, the advent of an Islamic state.

The split lies not on the question of the necessity of an Islamic state, but on the means by which to arrive at one and on the attitude to adopt with respect to the powers in place: destruction, opposition, collaboration, indifference. It has not even been able to offer the Muslim masses a concrete political expression for their anticolonialism. He is right to note, for example, that contrary to the usual assumption, fundamentalist Islam is a form of modernization.

As Muslims recognize fundamentalism to be dysfunctional, they will abandon it. But when will this happen? The realization that fundamentalism does not work could be years or decades hence, and in the meantime Islamic regimes can do a great deal of damage both to their own populace and to the rest of the world.

The mullahs in Iran have tasted power and appear to like it; they will make great efforts to retain control of their country, not to mention expanding their influence outward. He seems to assume that because fundamentalists have not yet swept the Muslim world, they cannot do so in the future. Indeed, Roy has already been proved wrong. As its name implies, the GIA is no gentle band of preachers urging moral self-improvement but a deadly gang of murderers who specialize in killing children of police officers, women without veils, unsympathetic journalists, and non-Muslim foreigners.

Their preferred methods are particularly horrifying; they specialize in slitting throats and cutting off heads. As in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge attacked everyone educated and Western-oriented, so in Algeria today anyone speaking French or wearing a business suit is a potential victim. Which raises the question: how can someone who knows so much be so wrong?

For one thing, Roy writes in the French tradition of intellectual virtuosity—taking an implausible point and making a brilliant argument for it. He also indulges in the favorite intellectual pastime of scandalizing the middle class. As fears of fundamentalist Islam are particularly severe in France these days, he must insist on their being illusory. But whatever French games Roy may be playing, his book is politically significant here in the United States.

Enlightened American opinion already tells us not to worry about fundamentalist Islam. Leading American specialists—they include John Entelis, John Esposito, and John Voll—argue that beyond the rough edges and bristling rhetoric is a movement that is democratic in spirit, capitalist in orientation, and prepared to coexist with the West.

Instead, it seeks them out to engage in dialogue.This reformism generally developed in response to an external threat the influence of Hinduism on Islam, for example. His legitimacy lies therein. We therefore need to break away from these mutually defensive arguments.

One, of course, is the call to fundamentalism, centered on the sharia: this call is as old as Islam itself and yet still new because it has never been fulfilled. The Marxist-leaning revolutionary currents of the s-Hafizullah Amin in Afghanistan,