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Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform?

John L. Esposito, editor
ISBN: 978-1-55587-262-5
ISBN: 978-1-55587-168-0
1997/228 pages/LC: 96-38160

"A balanced and much-needed analysis."—Iftikhar H. Malik, Journal of Islamic Studies

"A remarkably comprehensive and lucid treatment of a complex and variegated phenomenon."—Ethics and International Affairs

"This is a work which can be recommended to specialists and generalists alike."—Louie Delvoie, International Journal

"May be one of the single most important scholarly volumes on the controversial subject of political Islam."—Louis A. Cantori, Comparative Politics

"Amid the plethora of books on Islam and Islamic fundamentalism, this is probably the best basic introduction to the topic."—As'ad AbuKhalil, Journal of Palestine Studies

"One of the most impressive single books on a very topical and controversial subject.... The scholarly and especially the policy importance of the book is difficult to exaggerate.... Recommended for all collections."—Choice

"Enlightened analyses ... Although the authors often are blunt in refuting misconceptions, their studies represent solid scholarship.... The book ... is essential reading ... should be a high priority for libraries and should be assigned to students in a variety of courses."—Perspectives on Political Science

"In a rigorous account of what continues to be little-understood subject, Professor Esposito and the other contributors to this volume have sparked a lively discussion in both academic policy circles about the impacts, both real and potential, of political Islam. This book is a must-read for anybody eager to probe beneath the surface of this challenging subject."—Middle East Policy

"Substantial and important.... a first-class team of scholars provides recent information on Muslim politics across the world and highlights key themes that condition those politics: the relationship between political participation and the radicalism of opposition; the impact of globalization; the connections between economic conditions and the rise of Islamism; and the transnational influences that contribute to a new consciousness, as well as new challenges, among Muslims.... Lucidly written and cogent in analysis." —James Piscatori


For more than a decade, policymakers and observers in the Muslim world and the West have struggled with the specter of political Islam—or "Islamic fundamentalism"—often confounded by myriad and contradictory images. This book offers a thorough, objective examination of the impact of political Islam on domestic and international politics in countries ranging from North Africa to South Asia.

Covering both governments and Islamic movements and organizations, the authors analyze the multifaceted nature and dynamics of contemporary Islamic politics in the context of three perspectives: the struggle between governments and illegal opposition; Islam within the political process; and the international relations of political Islam. They make a seminal contribution to the understanding of a phenomenon that incorporates extremists as well as moderates, and demagogues as well as representative populist movements.


John L. Esposito is professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University and director of the university's Center for Muslim and Christian Understanding. He is editor-in-chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. His numerous publications also include The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Islam and Democracy (with John Voll), and Islam and Politics.


  • Introduction—J.L. Esposito.
  • Fulfilling Prophecies: Illegal Opposition and Islamic Radicalism—L. Anderson.
  • Islam in Algeria: Religion, Culture, and Opposition in a Rentier State—D. Vandewalle.
  • Political Islam and Gulf Security—J.L. Esposito.
  • Political Participation in Revolutionary Iran—M. Milani.
  • Sudan: Islamic Radicals in Power—P. Woodward.
  • Invidious Comparisons: Realism, Postmodern Globalism, and Centrist Islamic Movements in Egypt—R. Baker.
  • Islamic Opposition in the Political Process: Lessons from Pakistan—S.V.R. Nasr.
  • HAMAS, Legitimate Heir of Palestinian Nationalism?—J. Legrain.
  • Arab Islamists in Afghanistan—B.R..Rubin.
  • Islamists and the Peace Process—Y.Haddad.
  • Relations Among Islamist Groups—J. Voll.
  • CONCLUSION—J.L. Esposito.