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al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise by Christina Hellmich

By Christina Hellmich

Due to the fact that 11th of September, al-Qaeda has ruled American discussions of nationwide and foreign protection. but conflicting assumptions in regards to the nature of the crowd and the consequences of bin Ladin's demise abound. instead of simply offering yet one more biography of al-Qaeda, Christina Hellmich forensically examines the main authoritative assets on which the current knowing of al-Qaeda is based, studying the discrepancies among what's said and what can realistically be recognized. the result's a penetrating perception into a company that for all its notoriety is likely one of the least understood of our time.

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It is not surprising, in this light, that militant violence and public intolerance have become the central issues of so many studies of al-sahwa al-islamiyya (Islamic awakening), while the extensive coercion and torture practiced by governments get relegated to a footnote. Notes * 1 2 I wish to thank Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, Hussein Agrama, Steve Niva and Lisa Hajjar for their comments and suggestions on this brief article. Its shortcomings are my responsibility alone. See William Connolly, The Ethos of Pluralization (Minneapolis: University, of Minnesota Press, 1995).

5 The latter, for almost forty years a Zaydi (Shiite) judge at the service of the imams of the uplands of NorthYemen, was one of the first to denounce the bad effects of ill-considered imitation (taqlid) of tradition to the detriment of the innovative adaptations rendered possible by ijtihad. 7 Finally, and above all, he attempted to transcend the divisions between the different legal schools and the Zaydi (Shiite) and Shafii (Sunni) sectarian allegiances. These reformist antecedents to the colonial shock and the continuity between Abduh and his Yemeni ancestor al-Shawkani relativize the theory of a Muslim world which only confrontation with the West had been able to extricate from its doctrinal stasis.

Above all he sought to transcend the divisions among different juridical schools and their sectarian allegiances. 8 Beginning in 1744, the Najdi preacher undertook a rigorous reinstatement of monotheism and divine unicity. He placed his preaching at the service of the nascent dynasty of Muhammad ibn al-Saud, with whom he threw in his lot, providing what might be called the ideological underpinnings which enabled the sovereign to unify a large part of the Peninsula and to give birth to a stable and autonomous political entity.

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