British journalist Jason Burke, one of the more perceptive writers on the issues of Islam, Islamism and the war on terror, has chosen five books on Islamic militancy for The Browser. And among the five is From Fatwa to Jihad. A snippet from his interview:

Your final choice is From Fatwa to Jihad by Kenan Malik.

I liked the book for a variety of reasons. It is well written and well researched and makes a series of good points. The most interesting point to me was about identity. Kenan Malik’s own background is as a left-wing activist and campaigner. This book is all about the fatwa which came out against Salman Rushdie after he wrote his book The Satanic Verses in 1988.

What does it show you about Islamic militancy?

The real point which he makes, which I really like, is that back in the 1980s he was angry, campaigning and politicised but on a race basis. It was all about being black. Kenan Malik is of Pakistani background and he lives in England. Nowadays you don’t hear much about people campaigning on those types of issues. Colour has changed to religion in that now you will hear, “It is because I am a Muslim,” rather than, “It is because I am black.” Second generation British-Pakistanis are far less likely to talk about politics along the old lines of white, black, left wing, right wing and I think that shift is a very important one. I wonder what the next shift will be.

As it happens I am not ‘of Pakistani background (I was born in India). But I’m delighted that From Fatwa to Jihad is on Jason Burke’s list. The full interview (and list) is on The Browser. And here’s my Amazon bookshop from where you can buy From Fatwa to Jihad.


  1. Step Left

    What do you think of Jason Burke’s work? I read ‘Al Qaeda’ by him, thought It was quite a welcome response to the ridiculous assertion that AQ were this tentical organisation that was assumed, rather than investigated, by conservatives and liberals alike.

    • I agree. He is a top-notch journalist and has consistently challenged the more hysterical claims about al Qaeda and jihadism and provided a welcome dose of rational thinking.

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