Michael Winkler reviews 'The Mind of the Islamic State' by Robert Manne

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Mind of the Islamic State' by Robert Manne

The Mind of the Islamic State

by Robert Manne

Redback, $22.99 pb, 186 pp, 9781863958813

One of the many contradictions of Islamic State, as exposed in Robert Manne’s latest work, is that a mob seemingly dedicated to deeds rather than words is in fact logocratic. For all of their murderous antipathy towards the People of the Book, Islamic State has relied not on speeches or policy platforms, but on a succession of books.

While some trace the genealogy of Islamic State to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (from whom, Wahhabism) or the 1928 formation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and others insist it must be measured as commencing with the Qur’an in the seventh century, Manne argues for a more recent foundation: the writings of Sayyid Qutb. The quixotic Egyptian claimed that the world had fallen into jahiliyya (spiritual darkness). His remedy was violent struggle, which he commended as ‘an act of highest compassion’. A similar black-is-white contortion was Qutb’s decree that armed force was required to give people the freedom to choose Islam.

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Michael Winkler

Michael Winkler

Michael Winkler lives in Melbourne and works in the Northern Territory. His most recent book is the self-published Fahfangoolah! The despised and indispensable Welcome to Woop Woop. He has worked in all branches of the media – radio, television, print, the internet – as well as corporate communications. He is the winner of the 2016 Calibre Essay Prize.

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