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Much that has been written about political Islam emphasizes the negative
images of suicide bombings, bearded and seemingly blind proponents of
jihad, patriarchal gender ideologies, and intolerance toward non-Muslims.
Jillian Schwedler’s comparative study of two “Islamist” political parties in
Jordan and Yemen, respectively, is a welcome reminder that Muslims are
just as capable of protecting their faith in moderation as anyone else. Her
book provides a valuable record of the historical development of both
Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF: Jabhat al-`Aml al-Islami) and the
Yemeni Congregation for Reform, better known simply as the Islah
(Reform) party.A political scientist with first-hand experience in both countries,
she has researched the previous literature on each party and conducted
over three dozen formal on-the-record interviews with party officials and
other relevant individuals (and more than 200 political actors overall, p. 31).
The bulk of the interviews were conducted between 1995 and 1998, with
follow-up trips as recently as 2003 ...