In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power is a book written by American historian and journalist Daniel Pipes on Islamic fundamentalism, or militant Islam. The book examines the role of Islam in politics and provides a perspective of its evolution against a background of three competing social movements; secularization, communist socialism, and modernity. Pipes sought in the book to present a survey of the relationship between Islam and political power over the history of the Islamist ideology in a way that would help explain the modern crisis and conflict between Militant Islam and the West.
Daniel Pipes says that militant Islam is best understood not as a religion but as a political ideology. Indeed, it is the successor of both fascism and Marxism-Leninism in its nature (radical utopianism), its means (totalitarianism), and its goals (world conquest).
Just as fascism was the ultimate enemy in World War II and communism was the ultimate enemy during the cold war, so militant Islam is the ultimate enemy in the war on terrorism.
Fascism provided the motivating ideology behind its German, Italian, and Japanese manifestations; communism provided it for the Soviet, Chinese, and Vietnamese manifestations, and militant Islam provides it for the Iranian, Afghan, and Sudanese manifestations.
Militant Islam is inherently incompatible with liberal values and no dilution of it can be made to fit into the modern world. There is, in other words, no such thing as a moderate Islamist. Islamist professions of democratic intent are false and need to be discounted.
Daniel Pipes argues it is necessary to adopt a tough line against militant Islam. Governments and other leading institutions need to fight this phenomenon, not compromise with it. Militant Islam is a tough and dedicated enemy but with resolve, it can be defeated.
While militant Islam has uniformly aggressive intentions toward non-Muslims, Muslims themselves are the first victims of this movement. This has a profound implication:the battle against militant Islam amounts not to a clash of civilizations but a struggle for the soul of Islam. The West is engaged, but only in so far as it can help moderate Muslims defeat militant Islam, then work with them to develop a reformed, modernized, and moderate version of Islam.
“This book, ambitious in its scope, eloquent in its presentation, and provocative in its judgments, is a welcome addition to the growing body of new Western writing on the interaction of politics and Islam. It offers both a comprehensive historical review and a wide-ranging contemporary survey of Islamic politics, in their doctrinal as well as practical manifestations. The result is a concise and erudite introduction to this subject for the general reader, and an interesting interpretation for those with more background in Islamic studies … In pursuing its distinctive themes, the book largely succeeds on all three counts, demonstrating mastery of detail combined with an ability to capture the ‘big picture’ and make general arguments in the grand style.”
— David Pollock, Middle East Insight