The book Engaging the Muslim World written by Juan Cole helped me clear up misconceptions I’ve had from my previous research. The whole purpose of the book was to clear up misconceptions surrounding the Muslim countries of the Middle East, which I think he did a good job at. However, despite being an American writer, I feel like Juan Cole sometimes is bias towards the Muslim countries in his efforts to condemn American actions. For example, he said it was not right for the American government to be grouping terrorist groups with the governing bodies in Afghanistan; however, it is a fact that they had offered shelter for the Al-Qaeda terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
Chapter II was useful as he discusses the difference between Muslim activism and Muslim radicalism and justifies his claim that there is no such thing as “Islamic fascists”, but only Muslim terrorists, in the same way that there are no such thing as a “Judaic terrorist”. The most relevant chapter to my research paper was Chapter III, titled “The Wahhabi Myth”. It helped me better define the meaning of Wahhabism and fixed my misconceptions. I used to think that Wahhabi is one who engages in extreme Islam when in fact it is a branch of Islam itself. Wahhabi is a stricter version of Sunni Muslim which strives for a goal of a caliphate- anti-technology world.
The book’s detailed explanations helped me redefine key terms of my research paper and provided extra information related to my topic.