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God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad [Hardcover]

Charles Allen
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Feb 2006
The brutal assasination of Commissioner Frederick Mackeson on British Indias North-West Frontier in 1853 was a bloody and public declaration of a conflict that was to stretch well into the next one hundred and fifty years. The Wahhabi tribe, extreme Islamist fundamentalists, set out to restore purity to their faith by declaring violent jihad on all who opposed them. Their history has long been forgotten and yet their vicious brand of political ideology lives on. The Wahhabi deeply influenced not only the formation of modern Saudi Arabia, but Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Their teachings educate orphan boys in Afghanistan and press rifles into their hands, for the sake of jihad. The parallels between this pivotal terrorist network and our post-9/11 political climate are staggering. Charles Allen sheds lights on the historical roots of modern terrorism and shows how this dangerous nineteenth-century theology lives on today.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (23 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316729973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316729970
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A story of intransigence, hatred of modernity, millennial dreams, bloody massacres and invariably disappointed hopes' -- INDEPENDENT

'Allen is an engaging writer with a commanding knowledge . . . Compelling' -- THE TIMES

'Allen marshals his formidable knowledge of British India to considerable effect. His book offers a valuable guide' -- SCOTSMAN

'Charles Allen is a fine narrative historian whose work is always stimulating and readable . . . A fascinating new book' -- SPECTATOR

'The book draws some interesting parallels between this religious network and the post 9/11 political world' -- GLASGOW HERALD

Book Description

A fascinating history of the religious fanatics that would come to be known as the founding fathers of Islamic terrorism and who set down the intellectual roots of Al Queda. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missing the point 15 April 2007
This is a well-written book about Islamic Jihad and the emergence of the Wahhabi Cult. Or is it? Certainly Charles Allen writes exceedingly well and seems to have researched his subject matter thoroughly, albeit not the subject matter indicated in the book's title.

However, one cannot help feeling a little disappointed having read the book. 90% of God's Terrorists seems to deal with Islamic fundamentalism in India and Afghanistan and very few pages are dedicated to Wahhab himself or the emergence of wahhabism in what is today Saudi Arabia. The book also only makes fleeting connections to the influence wahhabism has had on other fundamentalist Islamic organisations active in the Muslim world today. Any connection between intellectual roots behind wahhabism and Al Qaeda is only superficially explored, leaving the reader somewhat mystified as to the actual strength of the link.

So much more could, and should, have been written about the relationship between the ancient Saud dynasty in Nejd and Wahhab and the way wahhabism has influenced the creation and structure of modern day Saudi Arabia. In fact, having read the book, I am non the wiser as to what wahhabism actually is and how it influences modern terrorism.

I struggled whether to give the book 1 or two stars. I settled for two in recognition of how well the book is written and the very lively and researched account of the spread of fundamentalist Islam in the former Raj. If this is a subject matter that interests you, God's Terrorists is a splendid book, which I am sure you will award five stars. If Saudi Arabia and wahhabism is your thing, you are bound to be disappointed.

Charles Allen is a profound writer on India during the period of the Great Game and it feels as if God's Terrorists is a rushed piece of work utilizing passages and subject matter previously published in other works. A real pity as this could have been a very interesting book very well worth reading.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating read. In a world dominated by sound-bites of a few seconds, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that every new event must have its root causes in the recent past. Nowhere is this assumption more prevalent than when that epitome of 21st century phenomena - Islamic terrorism - is discussed. There seems a consensus among commentators that the actions of al Qaeda and their ilk today are the consequences of recent foreign policy decisions in London and Washington, and by extension that decisions made today can have an immediate impact on such organisations' future plans.

What Charles Allen reminds us is that exponents of Wahhabism, indistinguishable from their modern counterparts in al Qaeda, have been taking up arms against "the West" since the early nineteenth century and that their reasons remain unchanged and, according to their philosophy, both moral and logical.

The author puts today's activities into context, though it is difficult to reach anything but a dark conclusion about what our immediate future holds as a result.

I don't share other reviewers' disappointment at the lack of intricate detail about Wahabbism's local origins, or the concentration on historic rather than current events. Both these aspects are beyond the scope of a book which does exactly what I hoped it would - it explains how we arrived at this point and highlights the naivity of approaching the fight against al Qaeda as a sort of PR-driven election campaign in which the enemy would surrender if only we could get the correct leaflet in front of bin Laden.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Context for current Troubles 10 Feb 2008
Charles Allen's book offers helpful insight into the historic roots of the Wahhabi sect, and the relationship between the Wahhabists of Arabia and those of the Indian Sub Continent. His discussion of the early Raj's attempts to deal with the so called Fanatic camp, the relationship between the Wahhabis and the Indian Uprising, together with the contribution of Wahhabi thinking to the Deoband movement and the influence of Deoband Madrassahs is very helpful. An excellent book for those with an interest in Islamic history, and those seeking to give a wide historical context for many of the issues in the news today.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed 27 May 2007
By selters
Charles Allen's book is very well written and provides very detailed information for people interested in the historical roots of contemporary fundamentalist Islam (Wahhabism) and how its history has been from the death of Muhammad to the present.

When I bought this book I was expecting more on todays situation, so I was a little disappointed, but I guess that was my mistake.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking. 21 Jun 2014
By probiww
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be compulsory reading for all "Western" politicians
everywhere; otherwise they will continue their failure to get to grips
with modern fanatical terrorism.
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