Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad
Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions
by Joseph Morrison Skelly, Editor
November 2009, 281pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37223-0
$61, £47, 54€, A84
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37224-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

From the conquest of the Byzantines in the 7th century to anti-colonial jihad in British Somaliland from 1899-1920 to the current climate of global terrorism, political Islam has continuously shaped nations, impacted policy, and radically changed the world.

This collection of 15 essays illuminates the evolution of political Islam from the era of the Prophet Muhammad to the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Under the auspices of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, Joseph Morrison Skelly brings together a team of experts to create a compelling, scholarly investigation of the interrelationship of Islam and politics. Divided into several topical sections, including early origins of Islamic politics, the development of jihad in an age of terror, and contemporary politics, Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad: Defenders, Detractors, and Definitions is an in-depth exploration of the various dimensions of political Islam—for the international community, the Islamic world itself, and anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.

Political Islam from Muhammad to Ahmadinejad takes an evenhanded approach in considering competing interpretations of political Islam, successfully broadening the scholarly investigation of the topic. The work assesses political Islam across a broad chronological time frame and includes regional perspectives within the contexts of areas in Africa and the Middle East. Skelly and his colleagues tackle controversial issues head-on and provide an intellectual framework for advancing political Islam into new stages of economic development, intellectual renewal, and accommodation with constitutional democracy and human rights. Each contributor lends a unique and specialized perspective to the discussion on this timely topic.


  • 15 compelling essays on various dimensions of the evolution of political Islam from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to present-day Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and Africa
  • Contributions from distinguished international scholars from diverse regional perspectives and varied academic disciplines, including political science, history, anthropology, theology, international relations, and counterterrorism
  • A useful index is included comprising political concepts, historical events, important figures from the past and present, and Islamic theological terms
  • A list of abbreviations is also provided for further reader support
Joseph Morrison Skelly, PhD, is treasurer of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa in Washington, DC. He is associate professor of history at College of Mount Saint Vincent, Riverdale, NY and an officer in the United States Army Reserve. He has written or edited several books and numerous articles on diplomatic history, international affairs, and international terrorism, including Irish Foreign Policy, 1919-66 and Ideas Matter: Essays in Honor of Conor Cruise O’Brien. His education includes a BA from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, and a PhD from the University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. He is an academic fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a frequent contributor to National Review Online, and collaborates with conservative historian Victor Davis Hanson.


"Although it is a collection of scholarly works, the essays are not written in the overly-wordy manner in which such scholarly pieces often are, and is therefore relatively easy for the layman to comprehend. I would highly recommend Political Islam from Muhammed to Ahmadinejad – Defenders, Detractors and Definitions to anyone who wishes for a firmer understanding of Islam, the Islamist threat, and potential solutions to the danger it poses to our free and democratic way of life."—Family Security Matters, April 2, 2010

"These new essays deepen our understanding of political Islam and its evolution over the centuries. The treatment ranges from early origins to Islam’s conflict with modernity. The contributors make a valuable contribution to scholarship about this subject, and – refreshingly – they do so without succumbing to the clichés and intellectual pitfalls that accompany much of contemporary writing about the subject." —Robert J. Lieber, Professor of Government and International Affairs, Georgetown University

"While numerous books have been published on political Islam since the terror attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, an overwhelming majority has clearly failed to inform Western readers of the real nature and goals of Islamism. The present volume stands in sharp contrast to this trend and will surely contribute to a deeper understanding of this dangerous ideology." —Kemal Silay, Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair Professor, Indiana University

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