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Book ReviewsFaith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism: a call to action

Book written by George Weigel

Weigel’s message is very timely in our world of today with the war on terrorism.  He expresses his views on how to live with and confront jihadism.  His views are not only his own, but also of many world Christian leaders and intellectuals of the West.  One of these leaders is Pope Benedict XVI who discussed the issue of peaceful dialogue between Christians and Muslims in his September 2006 lecture in Regensburg, Germany.  This lecture was answered later by riots and violence in the Muslim world and confirmed his point that for some Muslims there can only be a one-way discussion - in favor of Islam. 

Weigel makes it clear that not all Muslims are violent or follow the jihadist point of view and highly supports those who want peace and prosperity.  He points out that Christians are too tolerant or even too silent about outrages against Christianity.  He points to the controversy over the cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish publication and the uproar from Muslims and others.  When cartoons about Jesus or Christian leaders, like the Pope, little notice is taken.  The secular press and others allow it and call any protest against it as being intolerant.  The press also does not have to fear violence because most often, Christians are not going to kill them.  However, if Muslims are offended they might react violently.  Weigel and others are saying that this is not just or reasonable.  There should not be any bashing of any religion or ethnic group.

Sunni and Shiite jihadists are also examined.  The Sunni radicals are made up of various groups - most notably al-Qaeda.  The Shiite radicals are composed of various groups and Iran.  Iran also supports Hezbollah which fought with Israel in Lebanon during the summer of 2006.  These two “groups” fight with each other and the groups’ radicals are threats to world peace. 

The West needs to support and encourage moderate Muslims in order to combat radical Muslims.  Weigel shows how this can be done, and also presents what other leaders and intellectuals recommend to turn the tide.  Some of these are: Pope Benedict, former CIA director R. James Woolsey, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Bernard Lewis, Alain Besancon, and others.  He also presents some historical Muslims and events that were more tolerant towards others and prove that this tolerance can help Muslim society to be prosperous and at peace.

Weigel says that the so-called “Abrahamaic” religions really are not as connected as some would have us believe.  Judaism and Christianity are much closer than they are to Islam because Christianity is founded from Judaism.  It is false to say that Islam came from Judaism and Christianity because the Qur’an’s version of Jesus does not depict him as Christians do.  Christians hold him as the Son of God while Islam believes he was the last Jewish prophet and Christianity then transformed his message.

Weigel presents the fact that Christianity and Judaism are much more tolerant of other religions than is Islam.  For example, in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, churches cannot be built; while in Rome the pope encouraged the building of a mosque. 

Westerners, especially Christians, are encouraged to stand up for their faith against Muslim extremists and secularists who are inadvertently supporting the jihadists and radicals.

Weigel’s book is highly recommended to those interested in relativism, the war on terror, Muslim-Christian dialogue, and jihadism.

George Weigel is the distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center.  He is a Newsweek contributor and an analyst on the Vatican for NBC News.  He is the author of the forthcoming Against the Grain:  Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace (April 2008), God’s Choice (2006), The Cube and the Cathedral, America and Politics without God (2006), Without Roots (2006), Witness to Hope:  the Biography of Pope John Paul II (2005), and many other books and articles.

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