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Volkan, V. (2002). Muhammad and the Rise of Islam: The Creation of Group Identity. Subhash C. Inamdar. Madison, CT: Psychosocial Press. 2001. Pp. 226.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(5):1207-1210.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(5):1207-1210

Muhammad and the Rise of Islam: The Creation of Group Identity. Subhash C. Inamdar. Madison, CT: Psychosocial Press. 2001. Pp. 226.

Review by:
Vamik Volkan

The events of 11 September 2001 have transfixed a public otherwise indifferent to the Muslim world. We hear about the training of suicide bombers, are exposed to terms like jihad—which refers to a personal struggle to reach higher consciousness but is popularly used to mean a holy war—and we connect similar activities and concepts with Islam. Before 11 September, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was often generalised as a conflict between Jews and Muslims. After 11 September, other events in the Islamic world also captured the attention of the general public in the West, as well as the rest of the world, to an unprecedented degree, and the divisions that these events relate have shifted the focus from divisions between Islam and Judaism. These divisions are not new. When the 1978 revolution took place in Iran, it was perceived to a great extent as a division between Shi'i Islam and the ‘Great Satan’, representing in Iranians’ minds mostly the Christian West, especially the United States. Meanwhile, the basic origins and motives of the Iranian revolution remained obscure, as they are still misunderstood by many non-Muslims, if not by many Muslims as well (MacEoin, 1983).

Since the attacks, a broader public has read stories about the Taliban—stories that sometimes appear to many non-Muslims, as well as to some Muslims, to suggest that such events are taking place on another planet or in some far-distant past. Muslim extremism is often generalised, leading to stereotyping and confirming popular misconceptions and existing prejudices, in spite of unusual events connected with non-Muslim religious extremism such as the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in Israel (Moses-Hrushovski, 2000) and the Waco incident in the United States.

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