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Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz Harvard University Press
Pub Date:
09/2015
ISBN:
9780674088702
Format:
Hbk 144 pages
Price:
AU$37.99 NZ$39.12
Product Status: In Stock Now
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In this deeply informed and absorbing exchange, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz present an antidote to the polarizing rhetoric and obscurantism that have become defining features of our time: honest dialogue. A renowned critic of religion, Harris finds the doctrines of Islam dangerous and irredeemable. No, the Muslim anti-extremist Nawaz argues, Islam is amendable to reform and can find its place in a secular world. Rather than devolve into bigotry or caricature, their exchange presents an inspiring example of courteous attention, sharp-edged wisdom, and finally hope.

A former member of the Islamist revolutionary group Hizb ut-Tahrir, author of Radical, and cofounder of the anti-extremist think tank Quilliam, Nawaz speaks with unique authority about the possibility of Islamic reform. Since the 2004 publication of The End of Faith, Harris has critiqued religion and asserted that reason and science are the true guardians of our deepest human values. Islam and the Future of Tolerance is an exemplar of how the fog can lift when hyperbole and posturing are put aside in pursuit of understanding.

Guided by a mutual commitment to the belief that no idea is above scrutiny and no people beneath dignity, Harris and Nawaz challenge each other, and consequently their readers, to defend incompatible positions, define and explore their facts, and discover common ground. Published with the explicit hope to inspire many more such conversations, this dialogue extends an invitation to a world riven by violence to take up the task of engagement.
Free thought and rational inquiry once characterized the relative liberalism and humanism of ancient Muslim societies and civilizations: the leading Sunni Imam, Abu Hanifa, would debate atheists inside the great mosques of Iraq; the Abbasid caliphs hosted debates amongst the leaders of Judaism, Christianity and Islam at their courts in Baghdad; the Mughal emperors engaged in debate with Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz should be commended for conducting a frank and wide-ranging conversation about a number of key issues around religion, reform and Islam in the modern world. Nawaz's approach is based upon detailed familiarity with extremist worldviews, and with the history and tradition of reform theology and renewal within Islam that desperately needs to be amplified.I hope that this debate will be a fruitful endeavor, and illustrate that, in our increasingly-polarized world, it is possible and even normal for people with different viewpoints to have a civilized conversation and to learn from each other.
Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan, Islamic scholar
Back in Islam's formative centuries, the engagement of Muslims with their ideological opponents helped them to forge the doctrines and traditions of their nascent faithaand perhaps now, as Maajid Nawaz locks horns with Sam Harris, we are at the start of another stage in Islamas evolution. It is certainly a privilege to read their conversation, and to enjoy a flavor of those great debates between rival scholars that were once staged for the entertainment of the Caliph in Baghdad.
Tom Holland, historian and author of In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire
In this conversation Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz achieve what so many who take part in the debate on Islam and the West fail to accomplish: a civil but honest dialogue. The result is as illuminating as it is fascinating. Courteous and at times even chivalrous, the two men address every thorny issue on Islam, issues that lead so many others into wild shouting matches, personal attacks, and accusations of Islamophobia.In this gem of a book the authors lay it all out and set the rest of us a great example: that an incisive debate on Islam between a believer and a non-believer is attainable. Given the importance and the urgency of the topic we must all read it and follow in their footsteps.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel, Nomad, and Heretic.
Sam Harris is the author of The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, and Free Will, among other writings.

Maajid Nawaz is a cofounder and the chairman of Quilliamaa globally active think tank focusing on integration, citizenship, identity, religious freedom, extremism, and immigration.