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Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization
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Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  246 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The wars in the Middle East have become religious wars in which God is believed to be directly engaged on behalf of one side against the other. The hijackers who attacked America on September 11, 2001, thought they were fighting in the name of God. According to award-winning writer and scholar of religions Reza Aslan, the United States, by infusing the War on Terror with i ...more
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Published April 6th 2010 by Random House (first published 2009)
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Shaimaa Ali
Seeing the first phrase in this book, you will consider it one of those Muslim writers who aimed to defend Islam after the 9/11 catastrophe! However Aslan used this as an introduction to lots of many things. He went through a historical journey in which he mentioned several Jewish & Christian radical groups, how they started, what they did ..etc till he reached today's Islamic Jihadist groups, how they started & what causes them to exist. In the last part of the book:" The end of the war ...more
I'm not entirely sure how to approach my review of this book. I read it for a variety of reasons (in no particular order): 1. My commitment to reading diverse books (by diverse authors, from diverse backgrounds, about diverse topics) in 2015. 2. My interest in world religions, religious (or religiously inspired) movements and how they shape lives/politics/perceptions/etc. 3. My admiration for Reza Aslan for his responses to this particular string of Faux News idiocy. 4. The books's relevance to ...more
I had expected this book to be similar to Zealot, but found the slightly more academic prose somewhat distracting for the common reader. Less of a casual conversation, more of a lecture. However, it is still a critical introduction to the religious extremism we experience here in the US, and really provides context and clarity to the media hype going around. It explains more on the origins of Islam, the radical institutionalization of certain minority sects, their semblance to the several evange ...more
"Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Fundamentalism in the Age of Extremism" by Reza Aslan is an erudite, well-constructed examination of the rhetoric and ideology of modern religious fundamentalism. At once academic but instantly accessible, "Beyond Fundamentalism" (originally titled "How to Win a Cosmic War") gives the reader an original, interesting way of understanding the complexities of religion in modernity. The book argues that religious fundamentalism is motivated by shifting i ...more
Reza Aslan does a phenomenal job of describing fundamentalism in religions throughout the world and throughout history. It's a pretty strong analysis of this idea that "God is on our side" that has shaped so much conflict, war and violence.

Maybe it's because I grew up as an evangelical, or maybe just because I now run in the "recovering evangelical/post-evangelical" circles, but I thought his evaluation of evangelicals could have been a bit more nuanced (granted he does reference Jim Wallis). I
Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization was originally published as 'How to Win a Cosmic War'. (I suspect they changed the title because no one knew what a 'cosmic' war is.) I purchased it for my nook and it's quite worth reading.

'Cosmic war' is one that is fought more on a spiritual (as in non-physical) plane, good-versus-evil. This is the frame that bin Laden put on his attack on us. Once we accepted that framing and couched our own response in simila
Elliot Ratzman
“Natives restless; what are the drums saying Reza?” Reza Aslan seems like a pleasant enough chap. He writes about a lot of things in this book, a revised version of the poorly titled “How to Win a Cosmic War.” Of the things I actually know about—Israeli history, Biblical Studies, Liberation Theology—he makes amateur mistakes. This and the lack of Arabic sources in his bibliography and notes made me suspicious about the Islamic materials. He makes a distinction between “Islamism”—nationalist Isla ...more
Alford Wayman
An excellent text outlining the issues of fundamentalism and how the difficulties of globalization is met in the Middle East. Reza Aslan, who is now also know for the popular book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth", comes to some great conclusions on how the issue of religious extremism in the Middle East came about and what needs to be done about it. Reza also has some excellent insights on how Christian fundamentalism contributes to the issues in the Middle East, by also viewin ...more
great book for understanding at a basic level what the issues are versus the perceived issues in the Middle East. I have read a couple of Reza Aslan's books, and he always presents material in a way that is almost like a novel, so it doesn't come out dry and purely academic. his books keep the reader's interest easily.
Content-wise I was inclined to rate this as 4 stars. Maybe even 3. But what prompted me to leave a higher rating was how incredibly relevant this book is. While there is room to take issue with some of his arguments, I wish every American voter was at least familiar with the ideas Aslan outlines in this book.
Reza Aslan, with this concise but well analyzed work, gives great insight into the world of religious fundamentalism and extremism. He makes a clear distinction between Islamism which is a political movement having valid concerns and goals to bring about policy change at the local level and Global Jihadism which is a religiously fueled ideology buried in the concept of "cosmic war", or, a "war between good and evil" and is not confined to a certain territory. Beyond Fundamentalismm is a valuable ...more
Steve Dustcircle
Pretty decent read, historically. While the main focus is Islam, the author does take a stab at the other Abrahamic religions: Judaism and Christianity. The book starts with the U.S. events of 9/11, and then works its way backward, hitting modern time periods such as the Palestinian genocide, advanced Zionism, and the Religious Right in Western Civilization. The book also extends into deeper history such as the Inquisition, witch trials, the 9 Crusades, the Moors invasion, and even ancient textu ...more
Reza Aslan is a fine author who, I believe, teaches at the University of California. My first book of Aslan's was his No god but God and I think it is an excellent introductory book on the history and development of Islam. Beyond Fundamentalism was a fascinating read. It provides a better understanding of the concept of Jihad and is presented from the point of view of an American Muslim who understands the complexities of the Middle East quite well. As a Turkish Christian, I've found his analysi ...more
An interesting read by an American academic of Persian ethnic background. I believe he is a Muslim. In view of the topic under discussion, I'm not sure why he does not make this is clear. This certainly does not invalidate his observations and ideas but it's just as well that the myth of objectivity on the part of any commentator be acknowledged for the myth that it is. Still, though I'm no expert, this seems a fairly even- handed treatment of the subject of global jihadism and American provocat ...more
I enjoyed this, even though I knew a good deal of the information already (a lot of it from reading Aslan's fantastic Zealot). This did give me a lot to think about though, especially in its equal presentation of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. It suffers from having been written before the Arab Spring, so a lot of the conclusions Aslan draws about democracy and government in the Middle East, while interesting and still valuable, just beg for a follow-up chapter that ...more
John Ellis
Interesting and informative book in which one of Reza Aslan’s thematic pushes is the sharp distinction, both theologically and ideologically, between the Jihadist movement and mainstream Islam. Based on my own readings of the Qur’an, I have, for years, been aware of the disconnect between Jihadism and Islam, but lacked the knowledge of both the historical and sociological causes that help delineate the divide. Aslan’s book has provided me with at least a cursory understanding of these deeper cau ...more
Pretty interesting book that argues the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Palestine as a war of ideology which is also what we should look to in regards to what we are doing in the Middle East. Aslan writes about what is called a "cosmic war", that is a war against us that we can never win since it is steeped in religion and the idea of God as the ultimate reason for as well as judge. Not finished with it yet, but so far it is extremely enlightening.
#27 a book you can finish in a day
2015 Reading Challenge
Colin Birge
An astonishing, thought-provoking take on what Aslan calls "cosmic war," the belief in a stark war between Good and Evil that underlies Muslim jihadists and Christian dominionists alike. It challenges many of the traditional views of suicide bombers and terrorists, pointing out that many come from educated and prosperous families. A book every American should read before next year's 9/11 anniversary turns the Holy War rhetoric up to eleven.
This is the common reading book for Sweet Briar this year. I started to give this three stars because, although it did shed light on the subject and I did learn new things, I thought it would be more insightful. Perhaps it was when it was first published, but now it seems that much of its contents is common knowledge. Nevertheless a good book that I think everyone should read.
I wish I could make this and Aslan's No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam to every American's bookshelf right now.
Laura Matthews
Eyeopening look at how religion and its extreme forms has warped our world. I found it both riveting (like a train wreck) and distressing (same train wreck). I now think any form of religious extremism should be considered a form of insanity and treated accordingly.
Confronting Religious Exremism in the Age of Globalization

That pretty much says all there is to say.

An interesting book but still hard to follow, if you aren't an Israeli or a Palestinian.
Very readable and informative. I learned a lot from it about Jihadism and other fundamentalist zealots of all faiths. Very helpful to understand terrorism.
Corey Sitar
This is an amazing book that anyone who has any interest or questions about religious fundamentalism, Islamic or otherwise, should read.
Pretty good, short, accessible. Read for proofreading work but was glad I had the opportunity though. Could have been better.
An interesting read, but I have more than a couple of questions about his shoving Zionism in with the Crusades.
Check out my 60-second review (to read, that is, not to write):
Was learning so much that I was disappointed that I was done.
Makes you wonder what is the point.
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Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author most recently of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

He is the founder of, an online journal for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and abou

More about Reza Aslan...
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalities, Contentions, and Complexities

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