Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism. Mahmood Mamdani. Department of Anthropology and. U. MAHMOOD MAMDANI. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Pers on Culture and Terrorism. ABSTRACT The link between Islam and terrorism became a. Mahmood Mamdani’s Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold. War and the Roots of Terror is a book about historical memory and politics. Mamdani hopes.

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Mind you, not between good and bad persons, nor between criminals and civic citizens, who both happen to be Muslims, but between good Muslims and bad Muslims.

Transcript: Mahmood Mamdani on Good Muslim, Bad Muslim | Jul 03, 2006

Remember, it was not so long ago that some claimed that the behavior of others could be read from their genes. After all, we are now told to distinguish between good Muslims and bad Muslims. Or, the same thing, that an Orthodox Jew is a potential terrorist and only a Reform Jew is capable of being tolerant of those who do not share his convictions?

Whose responsibility is it? In Europe, its urgency was underlined by the changing political situation in Yugoslavia, Albania, and particularly, Greece. Their terrorism was of a type Africa had never seen before. Think, for example, of the Arabic word al-Jahaliyawhich I have always known to mean the domain of ignorance.

But now the CIA was determined to create one. We seek friends and allies in times of danger. As different factions fought over the liberated country – the Northern Alliance against the Godo – they shelled and destroyed their own cities with artillery. Take, for example the politics of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, both of whom claim to be waging a Jihada just war against the enemies of Islam?

Modernity in politics is about moving from exclusion to inclusion, from repression to incorporation. I feel I am reading of people who are said not to make culture, except at the beginning of creation, as some extraordinary, prophetic, act.


Are there really two meanings of culture? Conclusion I would like to conclude with the question of responsibility. A Challenge to Whom? This argument was echoed widely in many circles, more recently in the New York Times.

The grand plan of the Reagan administration was two-pronged. The Islamic world had not seen an armed Jihad for centuries. The first, called “little Jihad ,” thinks of Jihad as a struggle against external enemies of Islam. Thereby, it hoped to contain the influence of the Iranian Revolution as a minority Shia affair.

It was not simply that they were willing to tolerate a higher level of civilian casualties in military confrontations – what official America nowadays calls collateral damage.

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror

After the meeting, Reagan brought them out into the White House lawn, and introduced them to the media in these words: Both have a sense of mission to civilize the world. All of this is true, but I don’t think it explains terrorism. Should it be held responsible for cultivating terrorist movements in Southern Africa and Central America? Just as, in another context, the Israeli intelligence created Hamas as an alternative to the secular PLO.

It seems just to have petrified into a lifeless custom. It is the recognition that the good life cannot be lived in isolation. Both consider the world beyond a sea of ignorance, one that needs to be redeemed.

The Bin Laden family is a patron of scholarship. Do you convince others of the validity of your truth or do you proceed by imposing it on them? How, one may ask, does the literal reading of religious texts translate into hijacking, murder, and terrorism? Rather, terrorism is a mislim construction.

I use the word Crusade, not Jihadbecause only the notion of Crusade can accurately convey the frame of mind in which this initiative was taken. Always, the idea was to leave a few to go and tell the story, to spread fear.


Even when it tries to harness one or another aspect of tradition and culture, it puts this at the service of a modern project. It was determined to put a version of tradition at the service of politics. We must also memorialize, particularly monumental crimes.

The question of responsibility for postwar reconstruction did not just arise as a moral question; it arose as a political question. I returned from Durban to listen to Condoleeza Rice talk about the need to forget slavery because, she said, the pursuit of civilized life requires that we forget the past.

An African Perspective on Contemporary Terrorism Eqbal Ahmed writes of a television image frommahmoid Ronald Reagan meeting a group of turbaned men, all Afghani, all leaders of the Mujaheddin.

The demand was that governments must share power with terrorist organizations in the name of reconciliation – as muwlim Mozambique, in Sierra Leone, and in Angola.

In one of these articles, Mamdaji distinguished between two broad traditions in the understanding of Jihad.

That perhaps is the real challenge today. But civilization cannot be built on just forgetting.

Mahmood Mamdani: Good Muslim, Bad Muslim — An African Perspective

Official America has a habit of not taking responsibility for its own actions. Here is one version of the argument that the clash is inside – and not between – civilizations. Should we, ordinary humanity, hold official America responsible for its actions during the Cold War? I think of it as an enlightened version, because it does not just speak of the other, but also of self.