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The news that the US is tentatively exploring contacts with Iran, despite President Bush's rhetoric, is surely a sign of hope in a conflict-ridden region.
It also reflects movements in the complex balance of forces in Iran itself. There is a good article about this on the ever-stimulating OpenDemocracy website: Axis of Evil vs Great Satan: wrestling to normality by Nasrin Alavi, who spent her formative years in Iran, attended university in the UK and worked in London, and then returned to her birthplace to work for an NGO for a number of years. Today she lives in Britain.
See also Jihad: idea and history - by Patricia Crone. The notion of jihad is one of the most contested in the modern Islamic and political lexicon. In a four-part essay, Patricia Crone makes it comprehensible: by identifying its textual sources, examining how early Muslims translated it into practice, asking how they made sense of it ethically, and exploring its contemporary relevance.Tweet