The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict Between Islam and Christianity

ISBN: 0415328144
ISBN 13: 9780415328142
By: M.J. Akbar

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About this book

The Shade of Swords is the first cohesive history of Jihad, written by one of India's leading journalists and writers. In this paperback edition, updated to show how and why Saddam Hussein repositioned himself as a Jihadi against America, M.J. Akbar explains the struggle between Islam and Christianity. Placing recent events in a historical context, he tackles the tricky question of what now for Jihad following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.With British and American troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and once again in Iraq, the potential for Jihadi recruitment is ever increasing. Explaining how Jihad thrives on complex and shifting notions of persecution, victory and sacrifice, and illustrating how Muslims themselves have historically tried both to direct and control the phenomenon of Jihad, Akbar shows how Jihad pervades the mind and soul of Islam, revealing its strength and significance.To know the future, one needs to understand the past. M.J. Akbar's The Shade of Swords holds the key.

Reader's Thoughts


Goes through the history and culture behind the jihad philosophy. Decent read, but not that many solutions.

Anil Swarup

You cannot get a more balanced view. Akbar is at his best.


it s an excellent description of the conflict going on between the islam and christainity. I like it really very much


MJ tries to explain away the resentment of Muslims towards the West through a series of history lessons. Although a bit confusing for the history-uninclined, there is a yearly chronicle at the end that helps piece events together to provide a contextual whole to one another. Mutually antagonistic sources such as Bernard Lewis and Edward Said are cited to emphasize certain perspectives. However, MJ does not solely rely on intellectual sources to bring out his views on it all. With regard to India, on which MJ is probably better equipped to comment, MJ seems to respect Nehruvian secularism (dismissed these days as idealism and pseudo-secularism with hindsight bias), which has created a "democratic" framework in which the personal religious space and the political space are separated. [In his view] Muslims taste "democracy" more in India, despite all its problems, than elsewhere in the [Muslim] world. Jinnah also wished for something similar in Pakistan after all his political games involved in winning Pakistan for Muslims alone. Things turned out otherwise.A fine read.


Q: What happens when, in 300 or so pages, you try to squeeze in the story of every time a Muslim cries 'foul' and takes up the sword (or a gun and grenade lately), from the time of Muhammad to Bin Laden? A: It becomes a jumbled mess of names and dates making it unreadable and uninteresting. That is exactly the problem with this book by MJ Akbar. With his journalistic pen MJ tries to do justice to the eternal conflict between Islam and Christianity by putting in every small incident in history and going into the history of that small incident, in such a manner that I discovered 2 new names every page and I forgot them in the next. The initial chapters where we read about the evolution of Islam are really informative and interestingly written. After that, I saw only names and dates. May be, this book can act as reference material, if you are writing a paper on Islamic conflict in history. Nothing more.

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