Cox and Marks bring to bear their considerable experience in studying Marxism in this study of contemporary Islamism and its clash with the West. The resulting book offers fresh insights into a topic that is fast becoming the most talked about issue in current Western journalism and scholarship.
The authors are at pains to distinguish between fundamentalist Muslims, or Islamists, and the majority of Muslims, finding that "it is very important to emphasize this distinction, in order to prevent the development of Islamophobia."
They provide valuable comparisons of Western, Islamist, and Marxists perspectives. When it comes to concepts of knowledge and truth, for example, they differentiate between Western principles of academic freedom on the one hand and Islamist and Marxist ideological approaches on the other; the latter consider certain basic principles sacred and beyond scrutiny.
On political and social structures, the authors argue that Islamists take advantage of Western societal freedoms to lambaste these societies but that "there is an asymmetry of criticism" in the opposite direction. The authors then scrutinize key aspects of traditional Islamic societies cherished by Islamists: Shari'a (Islamic law), jihad, the low status of women, the dhimmi status of non-Muslim minorities (Jews and Christians, "peoples of the book," who have a protected but secondary status in Muslim-ruled countries), slavery, information control, and so forth.
One chapter provides a "Who's Who" of Islamist ideologues, including Mawdudi, Qutb, and bin Laden, followed by a consideration of the Islamist strategy via particular organizations, such as al-Muhajiroun in Britain and the international Hizb-ut-Tahrir. The Islamist attack on Western society comes into focus in terms of these organizations, especially in terms of specific Islamist tactics that the authors identify as deception.
Cox and Marks conclude their cutting-edge study with a clarion call: "Western societies must respond effectively to the challenge from ideological Islamists. To do so they need to use principles and analyses which have many parallels with the earlier conflict with ideological Marxism." The authors list a series of practical steps to monitor the activities of Islamist radicals, including "the active recruitment of moderate Muslims in the fight against Islamic extremism" and monitoring procedures in academic institutions so that academic freedom is maintained, especially where new university departments are established with Muslim funding and strings attached.