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\Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem to be drawn to extremism? And what do words like jihadism and fundamentalism really mean? In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Sam Harris--a famous atheist--and Maajid Nawaz--a former radical--demonstrate how two people with very different religious views can find comm \Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem to be drawn to extremism? And what do words like jihadism and fundamentalism really mean? In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Sam Harris--a famous atheist--and Maajid Nawaz--a former radical--demonstrate how two people with very different religious views can find common ground and invite you to join in an urgently needed conversation. ]


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\Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem to be drawn to extremism? And what do words like jihadism and fundamentalism really mean? In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Sam Harris--a famous atheist--and Maajid Nawaz--a former radical--demonstrate how two people with very different religious views can find comm \Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem to be drawn to extremism? And what do words like jihadism and fundamentalism really mean? In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Sam Harris--a famous atheist--and Maajid Nawaz--a former radical--demonstrate how two people with very different religious views can find common ground and invite you to join in an urgently needed conversation. ]

30 review for Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Bell

    A fantastic conversation between a secular humanist and a liberal Muslim. Totally apart from the subject matter, it is an incredible example of what is possible when dialogue is entered in good faith with the desire to hear and understand the intentions of your dialogue partner. On the subject of Islamism and jihadism, it is a fantastic, brief, and nuanced conversation. Mr. Harris raises issues very thoughtful and Mr. Nawaz responds deftly and with depth. The two don't always agree on every poin A fantastic conversation between a secular humanist and a liberal Muslim. Totally apart from the subject matter, it is an incredible example of what is possible when dialogue is entered in good faith with the desire to hear and understand the intentions of your dialogue partner. On the subject of Islamism and jihadism, it is a fantastic, brief, and nuanced conversation. Mr. Harris raises issues very thoughtful and Mr. Nawaz responds deftly and with depth. The two don't always agree on every point but you can see that they are both changing for the better. Highly recommended!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Abubakar Mehdi

    Islam, more than ever today, needs dialogue and open discussion as to its role in the social and political lives of its followers. This debate between Maajid Nawaz, a muslim who is trying to de-radicalize Muslims, and Sam Harris, an anti-theist, who openly criticizes Islam for being “Intolerant” and “Not a religion of peace”. The book is in the form of a constructive debate, as to the origins and future of Tolerance/Intolerance in Islam. The problem is not a simple one. Islam has many narratives, Islam, more than ever today, needs dialogue and open discussion as to its role in the social and political lives of its followers. This debate between Maajid Nawaz, a muslim who is trying to de-radicalize Muslims, and Sam Harris, an anti-theist, who openly criticizes Islam for being “Intolerant” and “Not a religion of peace”. The book is in the form of a constructive debate, as to the origins and future of Tolerance/Intolerance in Islam. The problem is not a simple one. Islam has many narratives, Maajid's narrative is one of tolerance, peace, interfaith harmony etc and he quotes many scholars who interpreted Islam rather 'liberally'. But unfortunately, the narrative that goes on in the mosques or Madrassah's is, in most cases, far from tolerant or inclusive. Maajid's is an uphill struggle, as when Harris points out, that 'why the book of GOD open to such extreme and barbaric interpretations ? Could God not have sent down something that was suitable for all times and not just for the tribal Arab culture.' To this Maajid again tries to find anomalies in certain texts, and doesn't come up with a coherent answer. Still, the point that he raises, which is that 'Islamism' as an idea needs to be countered is very critical. His stand that “ No idea is above scrutiny, and religion more so” is something that I strongly believe in. Although the book doesn't add anything new to the discussion, it was still a good effort by the two authors. What Muslims need to do, is to form a strong, coherent counter narrative that upholds tolerance, religious harmony and peace. Islam is in danger, not because of being weak or for not being upheld righteously enough, but because an extreme interpretation of the text has become rather mainstream, and is played upon by everyone, from Jihadis to CIA. The young and educated are either being disenchanted by it, or radicalized. There is a strong need to give it some stability through a narrative that is relevant, peaceful and more inclusive. I personally believe that, Muslims will have to forego the desire to rule the world and turn the hell bound infidels into Muslims. They will have to content themselves with the fact that faith is a private matter, and that political Islam is not a solution but a hurdle that is stagnating progress and peace.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Maajid Nawaz, despite his numerous flaws, still manages at times to be a smart and interesting thinker. Harris on the other hand truly appears to be the "lucky undergraduate" that David Bentley Hart said he was. There does not appear to be any intellectual content to anything he says then some pearl-clutching middle aged white conservative whining. His repeated expressions of emboldened stupidity, alternatively contradicting himself or being baldly heinous (he laments at one point the alleged ov Maajid Nawaz, despite his numerous flaws, still manages at times to be a smart and interesting thinker. Harris on the other hand truly appears to be the "lucky undergraduate" that David Bentley Hart said he was. There does not appear to be any intellectual content to anything he says then some pearl-clutching middle aged white conservative whining. His repeated expressions of emboldened stupidity, alternatively contradicting himself or being baldly heinous (he laments at one point the alleged overfocus on the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslim students), is his most notable contribution to this ridiculous pamphlet. This "book" is literally two people chit chatting for 100 pages, without any real structure or definition. How self-absorbed or arrogant one would have to be to publish such a thing escapes me. The "read more" list was also a laugh, judging from that and the sourcing Harris doesn't seem to grasp the fact his entire worldview was shaped by neoconservative fringe writers. In one unintentionally comic moment he even starts expounding (incorrectly, unsurprisingly) about "Taqiyya". Admittedly didn't have high expectations for this book and thus I was not really disappointed. Even if you are a fan of these two, do not waste your money. This is a glorified conversation transcript which any "rational" person should have been embarrassed to put their name on.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Could not put the short book down. It is inspiring to see such calm and thoughtful dialogue on such an important topic of our time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jakob J.

    What’s this? A productive, cordial dialogue between two thinkers who might otherwise have been on opposite sides of the debate stage? Don’t these men know it’s not cool to engage with ideas anymore? Don’t they know there are fixed teams insulated in their respective echo chambers and that everyone must choose, lest they fall on the wrong side of history for failing to sufficiently signalize their virtues? This kind of dialogue is among the most important of our time. Not because it will necessar What’s this? A productive, cordial dialogue between two thinkers who might otherwise have been on opposite sides of the debate stage? Don’t these men know it’s not cool to engage with ideas anymore? Don’t they know there are fixed teams insulated in their respective echo chambers and that everyone must choose, lest they fall on the wrong side of history for failing to sufficiently signalize their virtues? This kind of dialogue is among the most important of our time. Not because it will necessarily solve the issues under discussion, but because having conversations of this kind in any capacity has become taboo among some circles in western discourse. Some leftists tacitly endorse the conquering slaughter for the glory of Allah by making dubious excuses of political grievance, claims of bigotry on the part of victims as their bullet-riddled corpses and limbs lay scattered about, and irrelevant historical comparisons implemented as an evasion to draw attention from what we are facing as a civilization at this time in history. Nawaz and Harris are both knowledgeable, articulate, and share many concerns over the unique problem of what Nawaz calls a “global Jihadist Insurgency”. Their differences, of course, given this unique problem, concern the appropriate ways in which it should be addressed, or confronted. This is the kind of book which, regardless of one’s position regarding its contents, will undoubtedly burn some bridges. Like Harris, I am not deliberately provocative. I am not someone who particularly relishes in confrontation, but some principles are worth defending. Freedom of expression, artistic or otherwise, is chief among those that are. Just because such a thing as fear-mongering exists, doesn’t mean rational, legitimate concerns deserve to be conflated with it. A concern over the very real threat of global jihadism is not a phobia. Criticism of border policies which allow for said threat to more easily extend its reach throughout the world is not a phobia. A phobia is an irrational fear. I apologize if it’s patronizing to point this out, but the accusations of racism and Islamophobia have reached ad absurdum, with surreal situations in which actors scream it at public intellectuals on panelized talk shows, or in which Muslim reformers, or ex-Muslim activists helping oppressed people to escape their truly patriarchal society are being denounced by Islamic apologists and white liberals as harboring, or internalizing Islamophobia. The Islamists’ campaign is succeeding with the bizarre aid of western regressive thinkers. The term regressive left, coined by Majiid Nawaz, has caught, stuck, and spread like, well, like regressive ideas themselves. And those to whom the term applies are already sick to death of hearing it. I understand why. Any buzz word or phrase can become overused and tiresome, but in this case it is tremendously powerful because it accurately describes those who would sooner defend murderers of cartoonists than reformers putting their lives on the line to fight against Islamism and jihadism. When you accuse someone of Islamophobia for criticizing ideas, you are throwing reformers, secularists, and freethinkers in the Islamic world under the bus. Western liberalism has failed religious minorities in the Islamic world. Islamism, jihadism, terrorism; these are global problems with potential—and if we choose to ignore them, inevitable—global consequences, so I vehemently reject any notion that I, as a westerner, have no right to criticize these ideas. I am by no means the best one to do it, but that is why people who have experience living under Islamism, or who are living under threat from terrorism and speak out anyway, should be promoted and supported, not denounced as rabble-rousers who, if harm comes to them in their pursuits, may deserve to be implicated in their own murder. The problem of Islam is not confined to Islamic societies, though Muslims of a wrong denomination are the most frequent victims. I agree with Nawaz when he says Islamism should be crushed ideologically. That is the war of ideas which should be waged intellectually. Exhibiters of jihadi terrorism, however, must be annihilated before they get their chance to wreak havoc on innocent people. Bear in mind that Maajid Nawaz (still an observant, if not particularly devout Muslim) received the Islamophobe of the year award from The Islamic Human Rights Commission, as did Charlie Hebdo just weeks after its offices were attacked, its staff slaughtered, by jihadists. The IHRC claimed that these awards are reciprocal satire, but there is no irony or wit involved in them. They’re about as substantial as The Razzies, if there were fundamentalist film lovers who would avenge cinema by killing those they considered to be poor actors. But whatever, it’s all still free speech. I’m merely criticizing their criticism of Maajid’s and Charlie Hebdo’s criticisms of Islam, which is a superior form of engagement (note the absence of gunfire and explosions) to what jihadists do. I personally find it distasteful to tar and feather dead people who were killed for the precise reason you are tarring and feathering them. Sure, they had the right to draw the prophet, but did they have to do it? Sure, they died for expressing their freedom, but that doesn't make them any less culpable in the heinous act of drawing pictures some people don't like. For people who would otherwise always be against blaming the victim, the regressive apologists sure like to do it in these kinds of situations. Up with this mentality any longer, we can no longer afford to put. We are sharing a planet with people who would kill themselves and other non-combatant civilians for imagined religious grievances and the world is growing smaller and smaller, not only on account of the internet, but because of destructive technology that can be pilfered from more civilized, enlightened people and annexed to, say, the Islamic State’s imperialistic, death-cult ideology. Never let anyone undermine the freedom to criticize bad ideas, resist self censorship for the sake of appeasing others, or fear of backlash (I'm admonishing myself as much as offering advice to others). As the late Christopher Hitchens said, “Resist while you still can”.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    In this book Harris and Nawaz provide a commendable example of respectful debate between opposing views of religion. Harris, a renowned critic of religion in his book The End of Faith, has expounded the position that the doctrines of Islam are dangerous and irredeemable. Hizb ut-Tahrir, author of the book Radical, defends the possibility of Islamic reform. Harris has argued that growth in Islamic extremism is inevitable given that their texts leave little room for peaceful interpretation, whereas In this book Harris and Nawaz provide a commendable example of respectful debate between opposing views of religion. Harris, a renowned critic of religion in his book The End of Faith, has expounded the position that the doctrines of Islam are dangerous and irredeemable. Hizb ut-Tahrir, author of the book Radical, defends the possibility of Islamic reform. Harris has argued that growth in Islamic extremism is inevitable given that their texts leave little room for peaceful interpretation, whereas Nawaz counters that the history of Islam is rich with alternate readings that provide a solid foundation from which moderate Muslims can reclaim their faith from their bloodier counterparts. These two positions are stated clearly, and the reader is left with the freedom to decide with which side they agree. I have included below an extended excerpt from the book in which Harris explains the problem faced by all religious moderates whether they be Christian, Jewish or Moslem. I have included it here in my review because it is a criticism that can be directed against me since I am willing to be identified with the label of "moderate." What Harris is saying here is consistent with what he said in his book The End of Faith. However, in the final paragraph of the excerpt Harris admits the impracticality of asking all religious moderates to renounce their faith and become atheists like him. To that extent I believe that Harris' participating in this conversation with Nawaz has caused him to moderate his stated position by accepting the idea that moderate religious faith provides a position toward which extremists or fundamentalist can be incrementally moved.[Harris] The tensions you've been describing are familiar to all religious moderates, but they seem especially onerous under Islam. The problem is that moderates of all faiths are committed to reinterpreting, or ignoring outright, the most dangerous and absurd parts of their scripture—and this commitment is precisely what makes them moderates. But it also requires some degree of intellectual dishonesty, because moderates can't acknowledge that their moderation comes from outside the faith. The doors leading out of the prison of scriptural literalism simply do not open from the inside. In the twenty-first century, the moderate's commitment to scientific rationality, human rights, gender equality, and every other modern value—values that, as you say, are potentially universal for human being—comes from the past thousand years of human progress, much of which was accomplished in spite of religion, not because of it. so when moderates claim to find their modern, ethical commitments within scripture, it looks like an exercise in self-deception. The truth is that most of our modern values are antithetical to the specific teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And where we do find these values expressed in our holy books, they are almost never best expressed there. Moderates seem unwilling to grapple with the fact that all scriptures contain an extraordinary amount of stupidity and barbarism that can always be rediscovered and made holy anew by fundamentalists—and there's no principle of moderation internal to the faith that prevents this. These fundamentalist readings are, almost by definition, more complete and consistent—and, therefore, more honest. The fundamentalist picks up the book and says, "Okay, I'm just going to read every word of this and do my best to understand what God wants from me. I'll leave my personal biases completely out of it." Conversely, every moderate seems to believe that his interpretation and selective reading of scripture is more accurate than God's literal words. Presumably, god could have written these books any way He wanted. And if He wanted them to be understood in the spirit of twenty-first-century secular rationality, He could have left out all those bits about stoning people to death for adultery or witchcraft. It really isn't hard to write a book that prohibits sexual slavery—you just put in a few lines like "Don't take sex slaves!" and "when you fight a war and take prisoners, as you inevitably will, don't rape any of the!" And yet God couldn't seem to manage it. This is why the approach of a group like the Islamic state holds a certain intellectual appeal (which, admittedly, sounds strange to say) because the most straightforward reading of scripture suggests that Allah advises jihadists to take sex slaves from among the conquered, decapitate their enemies, and so forth. ... ... ... I want to be clear that when I used terms such as "pretense" and "intellectual dishonesty" when we first met, I wasn't casting judgment on you personally. Simply living with the moderate's dilemma may be the only way forward, because the alternative would be to radically edit these books. I'm not such an idealist as to imagine that will happen. We can't say, "Listen, you barbarians: These holy books of yours are filled with murderous nonsense. In the interests of getting you to behave like civilized human beings, we're going to redact them and give you back something that reads like Kahlil Gibran. There you go ... Don't you feel better now that you no longer hate homosexuals?" However, that's really what one should be able to do in any intellectual tradition in the twenty-first-century. Again, this problem confronts religious moderates everywhere, but it's an excruciating problem for Muslims. (p65-69)Potential readers of this book need to be alerted to the fact that the Audible.com edition of this book has a one hour twenty-two minute (2hr 18min original book, 3hr 40min total length) audio epilog that is not included the print edition. I don't know if the Kindle version has it, or if there are any second edition versions that include it. This epilog contains reactions of both Harris and Nawaz to the questions and comments that were received from readers of the print edition.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Henrique

    I haven't seen any good or merely functional argument to support the idea that any god may actually exist or have existed and i really doubt that the alleged existence of any god can be morally defensable. I generally despise all religions not only because the ratio between religion and war is too high to be ignored but also because religion makes extraordinary claims about the nature of reality that were never proven, hence the need of *faith*. As late Hitchens reminded: "what was asserted with I haven't seen any good or merely functional argument to support the idea that any god may actually exist or have existed and i really doubt that the alleged existence of any god can be morally defensable. I generally despise all religions not only because the ratio between religion and war is too high to be ignored but also because religion makes extraordinary claims about the nature of reality that were never proven, hence the need of *faith*. As late Hitchens reminded: "what was asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." Furthermore it seems the best religion can provide is an easy answer about fear of death or maybe more accurately an easy answer to the difficulties of having a good life. Therefore it was with high skepticism that i approached this book, both Harris and Nawaz make good points, however i was more surprised by those provided by Maajid Nawaz, a liberal democrat muslim and ex-islamist, imprisioned in Egypt for his support to a caliphate between 2002 and 2006, that has since then made a 180° turn in his life from Islamism to Classic Liberal values as can be read in his autobiography "Radical". (On a side note, i also reccomend Ed Husain's "The Islamist".) Nawaz's arguments actually convinced me there is a solution to jihadist terrorism and managed to change some preassumptions i had about this problem, even though it also confirmed most of what i thought about Islamism and Jihadism and in a sense about religion as a whole. I won't detail here any of Harris arguments, a famous secularist anti-theist, because most of them are pretty much similar to mine and can be found in his The End of Faith, the aim of this dialogue isn't discussing claims about metaphysics per se but actually challenge the the ideology supporting jihadist beliefs: Nawaz has 3 important distinctions: a) Islam is a religion. b) Islamism is the attempt of imposing *any* given version of Islam to the rest of the world. c) Jihadism is the use of force to impose Islamism. He argues in favour of secularism (separation between state and religion) and makes a compelling case for the reformation of the interpretation of his religion to be compatible with human rights (google: Muslim Reform Movements) i also add that i am certain that the reformation of Sunna (i.e. the way Islam is teached through oral tradition) has to be reformed as well and that all of us who don't want a global jihadist civil war trying to force us to live in a caliphate to start to get involved in this challenge. Nawaz stands that the main problem is Islamism and Jihadism that have to be defeated or, as he puts it, be physically and morally bankrupt. He also argues that Islam needs reform because several parts of it are incompatible with the 21st century, in addition there isn't just *one version* of Islam but several versions and in many cases conflicting. Usually verses in the Qu'ran are interpreted individually by most muslims and many versicles of the Qu'ran are contradicted by the hadith (the compilation of alleged words of God through Mohammed's mouth via Gabriel), i won't discuss here the metaphysical aspects of it maily because it isn't the most relevant aspect of this book, although it should be clear that any religion claiming that one guy hearing the voice of God himself via an Angel sound pretty much like the late Seymour Hoffman's character in The Master: i.e., a deluded person with a distorted and malicious sense of morality. Another important distinction made in this book is: The Voldemort Effect. Nawaz (taking the term from J. K. Rowling) argues that one of the difficulties about challeging this ideology is the inability to name the problem explicitly separating Islam as a whole and the political interpretion of Islam that jihadists and islamists do, the main problem, he argues, is islamism and islamism *can and must* be challenged and defeated. Many regressive liberals and leftists keep calling it vaguely as *extremism* and denying that has *something* to do with Islam - although not *everything*. Most keep insisting that Islam is a religion of peace when this contradicts basic observable realities in our world as violence made in name of Allah. As some ex-muslims friends of mine joke, if Islam is a religion of peace, why isn't its extreme version extremely peaceful? Jihadists kill in name of Allah, homicides have theological support in many quranic suras iand there's around 129 verses in the Qu'ran explicitly appealing to violence as chopping hands. However the main problem with the inability to name islamism, rather than Islam as a whole, as the ideological support for jihadism is that it helps to confuse and mix in the same bag muslims who are peaceful, and ignore or reject violent aspects of their religion, with those other muslims who are violent as islamists and jihadists, thus favouring islamists, jihadists and, ironically, right-wing bigots by implicitly letting non-muslims believe that all muslims identify themselves with terrorism, which is not the case, muslims are usually the first target of jihadism, which suggests that dissent within muslim majority countries do exist and must be supported. The tendency for the Voldemort effect can be noted in several issues, for instance the attempt of changing, in western countries, the term ISIS to DA'ESh, that makes no difference whatsoever to any person who speak arabic, because Da'esh is the exact same arabic equivalent for ISIS - ISIS is the english translation of Da'esh. This mantain persons in ignorance and fear, add to that the purpose seems to avoid any connections with Islam by installing a tabu preventing any criticism of a religion that must have no special status in secular democratic societies and must be criticized as every other religion. One reason to this trend seems to be ignorance about the religion, another reason seems to be politically correctness, for example: The term Islamophobia is not only disingenuous (how can one have fear of Islam if is supposed to be peaceful?) but unhelpful and a political weapon thrown at those who criticize Islam (Islamophobia is a word the late Charb from Charlie Hebdo already claimed that suited best the interests of Islamists and Jihadists by suggesting that anti-muslim bigotry - a term that would identify better the target of hate - is the same as criticizing religion ) anti-muslim bigotry or muslimophobia (for those who are so keen to phobias) are much better options to identify the problem, islamophobia is a bogus word used to silence any critique of Islam by equating legitimate criticism of Islam with racism and this is a very stupid and dangerous idea: Islam is a religion not a race. Muslims, as any other person, can be target of bigotry and violence, Islam can't. Islam is a set of ideas that must be challenged as any other without special status. As is stated in this book: *No idea is above scrutiny, no person is underneath dignity.* In the book it is argued, among several other issues, that the various sects that exist within Islam (Sunni, Shias, Sufi, ahmadis, etc.) have different interpretations about several relevant issues there isn't just *one* "right" interpretation of the meaning of the verses of Qu'ran, if those different divisions within muslim majority are pushed by criticism it may eventually lead to pluralism and secularism due the lack of a central religious authority has it happens in catholicism. To finish, let me say that few of those who have seen the increase of jihadist terrorism in the last decades believe the task laying ahead of us, ending islamism and turn Islam compatible with 21st century, will be easy or rapidly attainable, or that it doesn't have its dangers. To be fair it is the opposite. It will be slow and have tremendous difficulties. However the task that lays ahead, for muslims and non-muslims, is vital to preserve our lives, universal secular values and the plurality of ideas that modern democracies have reached in the last centuries at the cost of endless lives. P. S.: Maajid Nawaz supports lgbt rights, Israel right to exist, condemns anti-semitism, and urges that instead of trying to deny the problem (islamism a.k.a. as Political Islam) or denying Islamism has *something* to do with Islam we would be doing a much better work if we clearly stated that the problem is Islamism - the political ideology that gives theological support to jihadism - therefore we, regardless of having religious beliefs or not, who don't support any violence toward innocent people must combine forces and challenge the ideology - Islamism. In addition we also have to challenge *regressive liberals and/or regressive leftists* those alleged liberal democrats or socialists supposedly trying to protect minority rights while suffering from accute Voldemort Effect, extreme political correctness, and double standards regarding human rights, by not naming the problem (islamism) and denying any link with Islam, regressive liberals and leftists put in danger the lives of liberal muslims that are trying to reform Islam from within, the minorities within the minortities, not to mention the rest of the world, by mantaining double standards (a form of bigotry of low expectations): in one hand they demand human rights defense in western countries, however they tend to disregard human rights (by appealing to the much fetished "multiculturalism") when it comes to eastern countries as Pakistan, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh and so on countries that, for instance, are favourable to death by apostasy (leaving the religion), for being gay, that have implemented sharia law (a medieval law incompatible with secular democracy) condemning humans to death by stoning, countries that have laws stating that a woman is inferior to a man (as it is stated in the Qu'ran) or that men can have sexual slaves, etc. P. S. 2. Maajid's counter-extremist work can be found via Youtube if you search for Quilliam foundation, or in both Twitter and Facebook, he is also a regular collaborator in The Daily Beast. I also recommend the work of several other individuals as Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Ali A. Rizvi, Melissa Chen, David Rubin, that adress regularly problems as regressive liberals/leftists with moral double standards, legitimate criticism of Islam, right-wing bigotry and secularism just to name a few. P. S. 3. Just in case because this happens to often in my experience with conspiracy theorists... No, i wasn't paid to promote this book by any means, i decided to review (an exception from my part in GR) some of its contents because i believe that anyone who risks his life to defend universal democratic values must be supported. It is also my firm belief that ending with ISIS *will not be sufficient to destroy jihadism* because the ideology feeding jihadism is *islamism* and we all, collectively and individually, must start challenging and prepare ourselves to defeat this ideology that has a name: Islamism - the desire to impose one version of Islam to everyone else.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dan Graser

    How wonderfully rare, an exchange between a skeptic and a Muslim that doesn't dissolve into seeing who can call the other an Islamophobe or a terrorist sympathizer the quickest. Great stuff How wonderfully rare, an exchange between a skeptic and a Muslim that doesn't dissolve into seeing who can call the other an Islamophobe or a terrorist sympathizer the quickest. Great stuff

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    In this extended conversation, prominent atheist Sam Harris and Islamic reformer Maajid Nawaz discuss the factors that contribute to Islamic extremism. As a former extremist himself, Nawaz is in a unique position to highlight that it is not simply religious dogma, as often asserted by some, nor is it only a response to a political grievance, as alleged by others, that is drawing recruits from across the globe. Like many cults, modern day terrorist organizations also cultivate charismatic recruit In this extended conversation, prominent atheist Sam Harris and Islamic reformer Maajid Nawaz discuss the factors that contribute to Islamic extremism. As a former extremist himself, Nawaz is in a unique position to highlight that it is not simply religious dogma, as often asserted by some, nor is it only a response to a political grievance, as alleged by others, that is drawing recruits from across the globe. Like many cults, modern day terrorist organizations also cultivate charismatic recruiters who prey on those having an identity crisis to boost their ranks, and it is critical to understand how all four of these factors are working together to create the crisis we see today. Harris has argued that such growth in extremism is inevitable given that the texts of Islam leave little room for peaceful interpretation, whereas Nawaz counters that the history of Islam is rich with alternate readings that provide a solid foundation from which moderate Muslims can reclaim their faith from their bloodier counterparts. While I will leave it to the reader to determine who has the more compelling position, I found the fact of the book itself encouraging. In addition to providing a valuable foundation for understanding recent events, Harris and Nawaz demonstrate firsthand the skills required for those with seemingly opposed positions to find shared ground from which to work together on one of the world's most pressing problems.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Cesari

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though it is on the short side (around 130 pages and the area of the book itself is very small as well). I found it to be a very easy and enlightening read. It handled difficult topics very well, and it cited information on almost every page. It's wonderful to see this dialogue exist between two fundamentally different people that came from very different world views. I'm a fan of Sam Harris, but I did not know much about Hawaz. Hawaz holds fantastic v I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though it is on the short side (around 130 pages and the area of the book itself is very small as well). I found it to be a very easy and enlightening read. It handled difficult topics very well, and it cited information on almost every page. It's wonderful to see this dialogue exist between two fundamentally different people that came from very different world views. I'm a fan of Sam Harris, but I did not know much about Hawaz. Hawaz holds fantastic views and opinions that take you deep into the mind of someone who understands what the religion is going through, and Harris pushes this conversation and challenges him quite often. It's a wonderful dynamic. You will love this book if you're interested in philosophical or religious discussion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Vlad

    It was nice hearing a smart, rational and uncensored debate about the need of reforming Islam. This is an important read, honest conversations about this problem are needed and this book provides that quite nicely. I like how blunt Sam Harris is and while I wasn't familiar with Maajid Nawaz, he did manage to offer a lot of insight as a former extremist. It was nice hearing a smart, rational and uncensored debate about the need of reforming Islam. This is an important read, honest conversations about this problem are needed and this book provides that quite nicely. I like how blunt Sam Harris is and while I wasn't familiar with Maajid Nawaz, he did manage to offer a lot of insight as a former extremist.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex J. O'Connor

    I'm glad this conversation happened. I think I'm less impressed by the exchange itself than I am by what it represents, especially given how far Harris and Nawaz have come personally since their initial adversarial encounter in 2011. To me, this book (especially in the audio format) reads like an interview with Nawaz, as if it were an episode of 'Waking Up'. Harris presents some thought-provoking ideas, but nothing revolutionary. Nawaz is continually introducing truly fresh concepts and approach I'm glad this conversation happened. I think I'm less impressed by the exchange itself than I am by what it represents, especially given how far Harris and Nawaz have come personally since their initial adversarial encounter in 2011. To me, this book (especially in the audio format) reads like an interview with Nawaz, as if it were an episode of 'Waking Up'. Harris presents some thought-provoking ideas, but nothing revolutionary. Nawaz is continually introducing truly fresh concepts and approaches, which are usually a hit or miss for me, but always valuable in one way or another. If there's one thing this book cannot be faulted for, it's the fact that it was written at all. This could have been the least productive conversation imaginable, and still it would have contributed to the normalisation of the discussion of this grave subject, which is perhaps the most valuable thing this short dialogue has to offer. It does, however, help significantly that some genuinely interesting and challenging ideas are presented within its pages. I spent some time wondering if perhaps Harris was the wrong collaborator for this project, but I would struggle to find an appropriate alternative, and could certainly also think of some less-qualified individuals. I'm also grateful that Nawaz especially went out of his way to avoid taking any sides in the theological debates surrounding Islam, and to keep it strictly political. Too often the murky line between theology and politics is crossed over again and again through the duration of a discussion between a believer and an atheist, so it is refreshing to listen to an honest dialogue without it continually being sidetracked. Refreshing really is the word here. This book is most notable for its amiability, honesty, self-awareness and urgency. Harris and Nawaz are, and will undoubtedly continue to be, two of the most prominent figures in the discussion of the future of Islam, and this conversation is thus the perfect entry point for anybody who wishes to join the discussion.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz manage to tackle some very touchy subjects with amazing sophistication and aplomb while remaining intellectually honest about the specific issues in Islamic doctrine. Much of the book is spent carefully delineating the many diverse Muslim interpretations of the doctrine of Islam and how this is a way toward secular, progressive values in Muslim majority countries. At the same time, there is a recognition in their dialogue that the doctrine of Islam is a contributing f Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz manage to tackle some very touchy subjects with amazing sophistication and aplomb while remaining intellectually honest about the specific issues in Islamic doctrine. Much of the book is spent carefully delineating the many diverse Muslim interpretations of the doctrine of Islam and how this is a way toward secular, progressive values in Muslim majority countries. At the same time, there is a recognition in their dialogue that the doctrine of Islam is a contributing factor to many horrific human rights atrocities and acts of terrorist violence worldwide.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Sam Harris receives a lot of backlash for attempting these conversations. This year he tried and failed to have this same exact sort of exchange with Noam Chomsky. Noam thought having a conversation to bridge the ideological divide via email was dumb and useless. But Maajid Nawaz took the opportunity to engage with Sam and I think it has produced a wonderful example of what cross-pollination of ideas can accomplish. This dialogue will certainly bring more people to the knowledge that there is an Sam Harris receives a lot of backlash for attempting these conversations. This year he tried and failed to have this same exact sort of exchange with Noam Chomsky. Noam thought having a conversation to bridge the ideological divide via email was dumb and useless. But Maajid Nawaz took the opportunity to engage with Sam and I think it has produced a wonderful example of what cross-pollination of ideas can accomplish. This dialogue will certainly bring more people to the knowledge that there is an organization out there (Quilliam) which is working towards building truly secularized and liberalized Muslim communities. This short-format conversation, in what amounts to a pamphlet, is like a literary podcast. Easily consumed, stream-of-consciousness, inhabiting the thoughts of two minds in one read. Where interviews can become quite navel-gazing, two gentlemen having a dialogues in order to establish a common understanding of complex, world issues should be published round the clock. I suppose this is what the internet is for, but I still think books hold a power that can be far more meaningful than our RSS feeds and subreddits. Rather than hearing two men speak into microphones for a few hours, we are allowed to inhabit these words with our own voices. We aren't encumbered by how the two of them are feeling during one recording - each is able to construct their thoughts before they divulge them, thereby building a much more lively, responsive and thoughtful conversation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This is a dialogue that is sorely needed. In our current world of ever increasing political polarization and identity politics, the ability to reach out to those with whom you disagree and find common ground and a sensible path forward has sadly become a rare treasure. This short book can be read in a single sitting, and will leave you soberly aware of the challenges facing Islam and the West, but with a clearer sense of purpose and optimism as to how we go about fixing them. It all starts with h This is a dialogue that is sorely needed. In our current world of ever increasing political polarization and identity politics, the ability to reach out to those with whom you disagree and find common ground and a sensible path forward has sadly become a rare treasure. This short book can be read in a single sitting, and will leave you soberly aware of the challenges facing Islam and the West, but with a clearer sense of purpose and optimism as to how we go about fixing them. It all starts with honest conversations like this one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Islam and the Future of Tolerance is a dialogue between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. In this short book, Harris and Nawaz discuss the nature of Islam: is it peaceful or violent? Do its scriptures inspire acts of terrorism? Can the religion be reformed to coexist in a modern world? In under 130 pages, these two men discuss these subjects and more. This book is literally a dialogue between Harris and Nawaz. While short, it’s not a quick read. The two men discuss Islam using theological language, s Islam and the Future of Tolerance is a dialogue between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. In this short book, Harris and Nawaz discuss the nature of Islam: is it peaceful or violent? Do its scriptures inspire acts of terrorism? Can the religion be reformed to coexist in a modern world? In under 130 pages, these two men discuss these subjects and more. This book is literally a dialogue between Harris and Nawaz. While short, it’s not a quick read. The two men discuss Islam using theological language, specifically Islamic theology, with which the reader may not be familiar. Fortunately, Nawaz provides in-text definitions. I find the lack of details regarding this dialogue to be somewhat frustrating: did they really have verbal conversations or is this a written correspondence? Was this a public discussion or lecture? Can I listen to it online? The book provides none of this information. Also, in order to understand the significance of a dialogue between these two people, you need to know who these people are. I am familiar with Harris and his work, but not Nawaz. If you read the back cover of the book, you are given exactly one sentence: “…this dialogue between a famous atheist and a former radical…”; a more comprehensive summary of each man’s background and writings before the beginning of the dialogue would have been helpful. Granted, you can Google this information (as I did about Nawaz), but this book should have provided all the information necessary to better understand each man’s point of view. I’m not going to get into too much detail about the book because really, it’s fairly short and pretty straightforward and frankly, you’ll get more out of it if you read it for yourself. Harris, as the atheist, takes the position of “all religion is bad” and wants to know what Islamic reformation would look like, how violent scriptures can be reinterpreted to be more moderate or perhaps ignored completely. The book is divided into these sections: “The Roots of Extremism,” “The Power of Belief,” “The Betrayal of Liberalism,” “The Nature of Islam,” and “Finding the Way Forward” but the conversation topics can overlap, so I wouldn’t recommend reading them out of order. Nawaz, a practicing Muslim, takes the view that scriptures can be reinterpreted, and theological discussions should center on positive scriptures that are the opposite of the negative, violent ones. The tone of the dialogue is very friendly, very cordial. Both men recognize that whether you are a believer or not, Islam is a religion with millions of followers and those followers need to reform their religion so it operates more cohesively and tolerantly in the modern world. While I found the whole book fascinating and informative and I’ll probably read it many times over, I found two specific areas of great interest. One is the vehemence of believers and how their belief cannot be stopped by death. Harris quotes a conversation between Ali A. Rizvi (atheist Muslim author) and a Taliban supporter in which the supporter says that death is not the end of life, but the beginning of life in Paradise, and martyrdom is the best way to be assured of life in Paradise. When you know this, you can begin to understand the motivation for Islamic terrorists killing children—they think they are blessing the children by sending them straight to Paradise (85-86). The extremist belief that death in martyrdom is a glorious death to be celebrated and not mourned is impossible to destroy by bombs alone. This is of course why any military response to ISIS (or ISIL) is doomed. Bombs and bullets merely bring about the death of militants who want to die anyway. If you’re convinced that physical life is meaningless and merely an obstacle that stands between you and Paradise and a whole lot of gorgeous virgins, being killed by drones is a blessing. What has to be attacked is the propaganda used to attract fighters and the Muslim acceptance of/tolerance for martyrdom. Islamic scriptures that support martyrdom must be reformed. Not long after finishing this book, I was reading an article about Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, a powerful leader in the Islamic State. Adnani was killed by a U.S. drone strike last year, but in his last audio message he states: “O America, would we be defeated and you victorious if you were to take Mosul or Sirte or Raqqa? Certainly not! We would be defeated and you victorious only if you were able to remove the Koran from Muslims’ hearts” (“After the Islamic State,” The New Yorker, 12 December 2016). In the last section of the book, the men discuss the difference between President Bush’s and President Obama’s approaches to controlling Islamic terrorism. Bush apparently learned from his mistakes (or, at least his advisors did) and understood that the ideology that fuels terrorism is what ultimately must be stopped. Obama’s administration abandoned that approach: Launching more drone strikes than Bush ever did and compiling a secret “kill list,” President Obama’s administration took the view that al-Qaeda was like an organized crime gang—disrupt the hierarchy, destroy the gang. Theirs was a concerted and dogmatic attempt at pretending that al-Qaeda was nothing but a fringe criminal group, and not a concrete realization of an ideological phenomenon with grassroots sympathy (119).This failure of the Obama administration to recognize Islamic terrorism for what it is—Islamic terrorism—brings about another discussion I found most interesting in the book: the failure of liberalism. Harris and Nawaz both condemn the political correctness and apologist tendencies of liberals. Liberals are failing to not only support moderate Muslims who speak out against Islamist terrorists, but to call anyone who dares to point to Islam itself as a motivating factor “Islamophobes.” We must recognize that failing to recognize the theology behind the terrorism only emboldens the terrorists. As Nawaz states: We must name the ideology behind the Islamic State so that we can refute it. It is crucial to name Islamism so that Muslims like me are confronted with a stark choice. Either we reclaim our religion and its narrative or allow thugs and demagogues to speak in its name and impose it on others. Merely calling it “extremism” is too relative and vague, and sidesteps the responsibility to counter its scriptural justification (121).Nawaz created a term to describe President Obama’s refusal to recognize the ideology behind the extremism: the Voldemort effect. President Obama recognizes that there is a danger that must be dealt with, but by refusing to name it he increases the public’s fear of it, much as characters in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels feared Voldemort so much (and increased their fear of him) by referring to him as “He Who Must Not Be Named.” It is notable to remember that the one person who called Voldemort by his name, Harry Potter, is the one who vanquished him. (Does this mean Trump is our Harry Potter? Maybe Trump’s signature hair style and orange skin has the same meaning as Harry’s lightning bolt? Dear god!) President Obama and soon-to-be President Trump (gulp) should take common sense measures such as naming the ideology of the terrorism and explaining it. If the greater public knows what we’re dealing with, perhaps fear and anti-Muslim hatred will decrease. Islam and the Future of Tolerance is an important book for people to read now. Really. It should be read worldwide by everyone who cares about/is worried about Islamic terrorism. The more we understand the ideology behind the terrorism, the better we can defeat it. The answer isn’t to blame Islam and all Muslims, but neither is the answer to give Islam and Muslims a complete pass. Liberals need to stop whining about Islamophobia and support thoughtful and informed critiques of the religion. Moderate Muslims who are trying to reform their religion need to be supported, not added to an Anti-Muslim extremists list (shame on you, Southern Poverty Law Center). Open dialogue, such as the one in this book, is what we need now. Not name calling and public shaming.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

    "Islam and the Future of Tolerance" is a concise, nuanced and above all, civil, dialogue that encourages further discussion on one of the greatest challenges liberal democracies are and will be facing in the future : the specter of Islamist extremism. It rather jumps from topic to topic, but that is in the nature of free-flowing dialogues. It's more of a primer than anything else, so one has to judge it as such. Some extremely good points and issues are raised here though, while it broadens know "Islam and the Future of Tolerance" is a concise, nuanced and above all, civil, dialogue that encourages further discussion on one of the greatest challenges liberal democracies are and will be facing in the future : the specter of Islamist extremism. It rather jumps from topic to topic, but that is in the nature of free-flowing dialogues. It's more of a primer than anything else, so one has to judge it as such. Some extremely good points and issues are raised here though, while it broadens knowledge of Islam in its myriad expressions and inner intricacies. Additionally, it actually serves rather well as a guide on how to navigate various -often perilous- discussion points surrounding Islam and how to engage rationally with different groups in these types of debates. However, one is bound to feel a tinge of scepticism about the idea of public discourse on this topic ever reaching the maturity and depth that is gloriously on display here. Illuminating to say the least.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Graef

    Not the sort of book one enjoys, nevertheless a very important book for our times. The definition of terms and texts alone is worth the read. I always appreciate Sam Harris’ blunt clarity. The delight for me was Maajid Nawaz’ dispassionate intellectual rigor and non-defensive posture throughout. His personal story is riveting and his project is one of the few hopeful developments – at least that I’ve heard of – toward seeing a future free from Islamist Jihadism, and all other forms of religious Not the sort of book one enjoys, nevertheless a very important book for our times. The definition of terms and texts alone is worth the read. I always appreciate Sam Harris’ blunt clarity. The delight for me was Maajid Nawaz’ dispassionate intellectual rigor and non-defensive posture throughout. His personal story is riveting and his project is one of the few hopeful developments – at least that I’ve heard of – toward seeing a future free from Islamist Jihadism, and all other forms of religious violent imposition and coercion. Seems to this reader that the great urgency of our time is for rank and file adherents of religious traditions (including my own find) to find non-dualistic ways of proclaiming and witnessing to the great old truths they confess. But it has to start with leaders taking risks. Thank you Mr. Harris and Mr. Nawaz for your leadership with this enormously positive contribution.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hamidur

    I have a few ex-Muslim/non-Muslim friends who live in Muslim majority countries. They'd like nothing but the opportunity to be truthful about their religious beliefs to their families and relatives. But they can't because doing so will cost them social alienation, stigmatization, and might just cost them their lives. I also have a lot of Muslim family members and friends in the West. All of them are nothing but people who just want comfortable lives. But there is a lingering fear that someone mig I have a few ex-Muslim/non-Muslim friends who live in Muslim majority countries. They'd like nothing but the opportunity to be truthful about their religious beliefs to their families and relatives. But they can't because doing so will cost them social alienation, stigmatization, and might just cost them their lives. I also have a lot of Muslim family members and friends in the West. All of them are nothing but people who just want comfortable lives. But there is a lingering fear that someone might be the victim to a barbarous hate crime for the "crime" of being a Muslim (or brown skinned). So when criticizing Islam, I always hope that it doesn't add into the narrative of the xenophobic right-wing of the West. But I also hope that my friends in the Muslim majority countries are afforded some dignity. In that sense, this book was helpful because it showed how to achieve a secular, democratic culture in the Muslim majority countries that could stop the alienation that comes with apostasy. When I begun the book, I couldn't stop thinking that Maajid was simply cherry-picking from the Quran in order to reform Islam. After all, how can you say that the punishment for apostasy is not death in Islam? And this thought continued well into the book until Maajid struck with a historical argument of how different interpretations of the scripture were available in the past. For example, ask anyone whether alcohol is haram (forbidden) in Islam. The answer would definitely be a yes. However, Maajid cites the Hanafi school of thought, one of the earliest schools of thought in Islam, that interpreted the prohibition of alcohol to mean only a prohibition of wine. Everything else was permitted. This was changed later on by other schools of thought which became dominant. There is another example that some Sufi groups became very keen on their right to sin because there is a tradition that was interpreted to mean that people aren't angels on earth and are bound to be sinful, but god is ever forgiving. And that if people didn't sin and repent, god will bring a group of people who sin and who do repent, because god wants repentance. Of course, I still think this is stressing things a bit far to interpret something. But I'm still amazed to find that such flexibility in interpretations existed in the past. Maajid's argument is that if we can regenerate this kind of flexibility in interpretations, then this will lead to more accepting practices. It's a fact that the loudest voices within the Muslim world today are the voices of the jihadists. Then there are the conservative Muslims who oppose these jihadists but still hold on to views about gender equality, secularism, and apostasy that people from a liberal culture will find nauseating. It's then our aim to amplify the reformist voices within Islam so that we can drown out the other voices. And if we can then have a society that accepts multiple interpretations of Islam, we can perhaps have a society that accepts apostates (and maybe alcohol drinking Muslims too?). My only qualm about this wonderful book is that I felt it was too short. It's barely 130 pages even though the pages are small. I think it does a great job of explaining that a reformist position is not one simply based on cherry picking, but it has historical precedences. But I wasn't satisfied with the explanation of what we can now do to achieve that kind of flexibility in interpretations again. In any case, I only hope that there are more discussions like this so that we can give more opportunities to the reformist voices.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dr Zorlak

    I liked this book for what is trying to achieve, and I admire and respect Nawaz's work and activism. But something rubbed me the wrong way while reading this dialogue. It seemed to me that a significant portion of the book is spent by Nawaz explaining himself to Harris to the point that he looks to be placating him. In my opinion Harris also has some explaining and placating to do; instead, he comes off as an immaculate representative of moral rectitude and rational standards, completely ignorin I liked this book for what is trying to achieve, and I admire and respect Nawaz's work and activism. But something rubbed me the wrong way while reading this dialogue. It seemed to me that a significant portion of the book is spent by Nawaz explaining himself to Harris to the point that he looks to be placating him. In my opinion Harris also has some explaining and placating to do; instead, he comes off as an immaculate representative of moral rectitude and rational standards, completely ignoring (and thus forgiving and/or erasing) the role of US foreign policy in the radicalization of Middle Eastern youth, both in Muslim majority countries and in the West. His ignorance of US foreign policy, if it indeed is ignorance, is heartbreaking. If it is not ignorance but deliberate concealment, it is heartbreaking just the same. His attitude cannot be explained by saying that he was playing the devil's advocate, sorry. At least Nawaz comes off as sincere, knowledgeable, cooperative, erudite, really eloquent and committed. Sam failed, I am sorry to say, reduced to the indignity of playing a priest receiving confession and intercalating admonishments. This is further proof that Sam needs to do an honest reassessment of his positions. You can only be so logical and rational before you start sounding cuckoo. It was an okay read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K

    This slim book, a relatively fast read, documented an interesting dialogue between staunch atheist Sam Harris and former Muslim radical Maajid Nawaz. Nawaz offers us a fascinating and nuanced view of how radicalism develops (making this an interesting book to read in tandem with Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story) as well as various Muslim communities' relationships with their heritage and with radical views. I only gave it three stars, though, because I found Nawaz's sections lengt This slim book, a relatively fast read, documented an interesting dialogue between staunch atheist Sam Harris and former Muslim radical Maajid Nawaz. Nawaz offers us a fascinating and nuanced view of how radicalism develops (making this an interesting book to read in tandem with Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story) as well as various Muslim communities' relationships with their heritage and with radical views. I only gave it three stars, though, because I found Nawaz's sections lengthy, rambling, and hard to follow at times (this could just be me) and ultimately, I'm not sure what I'm really walking away with. This book feels to me like a nice beginning rather than a comprehensive addressing of the various issues, which I guess is to be expected given its short length. That being said, I think it's a worthwhile read with much to discuss.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Guy Austin

    I picked this up on a trip to DC at Kramerbooks a while back. I try to read deferent perspectives on things so that I attempt to self-educate beyond the musings of talking heads on television and this short book promised a dialogue about one of the most pressing issues facing us. This book is a short 100+ pages containing a conversation between Maajid Nawaz author of Radical, and Sam Harris the author of several books pointed toward a mindful atheism. I have not read any of these two persons oth I picked this up on a trip to DC at Kramerbooks a while back. I try to read deferent perspectives on things so that I attempt to self-educate beyond the musings of talking heads on television and this short book promised a dialogue about one of the most pressing issues facing us. This book is a short 100+ pages containing a conversation between Maajid Nawaz author of Radical, and Sam Harris the author of several books pointed toward a mindful atheism. I have not read any of these two persons other works so I come into this open minded on the both of them. It was refreshing to read the discussion and I say, remarkable honesty of Nawaz. He gave real answers to Harris’ pointed questions. The discussion was, in my opinion one sided. Harris asked many questions and gave little in terms of real insight. Nawaz on the other hand did, for me, a service is describing the main issues facing Islam today and helped bring into focus the various factions within it. Much like Christianity and its many tribes, Catholic, Protestant and many sub groups - Liberal, conservative, far right, and moderates to name a few – I came away with a little more of an understanding beyond what has become a very loud drum beat from the likes of Donald Trump that do little to help the real issues we face. One of my favorite exchanges was from Nawaz who counters Harris statement that to reform Islamic practices one must “pretend” that “jihad is just an inner spiritual struggle, whereas it’s primarily a doctrine of holy war.” By replying, "Religion doesn’t inherently speak for itself," because "no scripture, no book, no piece of writing has its own voice. Human interpretation is everything." Their back-and-forth clarifies many confusions that I have held regarding Islam. From Nawaz’s view, the difference between Islam and Islamism, as well as the distinctions among political Islamists, revolutionary Islamists and militant Islamists comes into view more sharply. Nawaz shares how he fell in with an Islamist organization. He speaks of his “identity crisis,” brought on by British racism and pounced on by charismatic recruiters trolling for vulnerable youth. Grievance born of secular sins — discrimination by the liberal democratic state — preceded his Islamist ideology, not the other way around. This all felt genuine and without vitriol on his part. In the end, while I learned much about the inner social and political issues facing Islam. I felt one important part missing. Title itself promised the future of tolerance in its name. I found little in the way of solutions presented by either party. Yet the discussion itself lends to some coming together for understanding. And for that I see a crack in the doorway toward something more than we have now. Some reviewers have blasted this work but I give credit for two opposites sitting down and having a frank discussion about a very important issue.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stefan Kanev

    This has been a very interesting book. It's a dialogue between Sam Harris (a vocal atheist) and Maajid Nawaz (a liberal Muslim, seeking to reform, er, the religion (broadly speaking)). I learned about it from a Sam Harris interview. I'm a big fan of his thinking and writing and I naturally wanted to read something from him. As an atheist, I also have a keen interest in understanding the current religious landscape, so I purchased it immediately and started reading. It turns out it's way more compl This has been a very interesting book. It's a dialogue between Sam Harris (a vocal atheist) and Maajid Nawaz (a liberal Muslim, seeking to reform, er, the religion (broadly speaking)). I learned about it from a Sam Harris interview. I'm a big fan of his thinking and writing and I naturally wanted to read something from him. As an atheist, I also have a keen interest in understanding the current religious landscape, so I purchased it immediately and started reading. It turns out it's way more complicated than I expected. I cannot do this book justice, so I will not try to summarize it. I will however share what peaked my interest in it. I struggle with present-day political correctness, as it tends to paint a very black-and-white picture of the world. On one hand you have people who call "bigot" on any question about modern Islam and on the other you have actual bigots that condemn any Islam and its practitioners. It seems to me that you can either be an Islamophob or an Islam apologist and there is no ground for critical thinking in the middle. Surely not all Muslims are the same and we should be able to condemn some parts of it without condemning the whole of it. But this seems very tricky in the PC world we live today (nicely illustrated by a Sam Harris and Ben Affleck (yeah!) exchange on the Bill Maher show). It felt to me that Sam Harris was making some pretty valid points, but the liberals were very quick to condemn him without constructive conversation. Then I stumbled upon an interview with Maajid Nawaz, who seemed to be struggling with the same thing on the other end of the spectrum – he's an ex-radical Islamist who now seeks to reform the faith with liberal and human rights values and faces the same black-or-white narrative imposed on him. Both guys struck me as ridiculously smart and bound to have a lot of interesting things to say. Well, they did have a lot of interesting things to say and I really loved reading them :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nico Alba

    Been waiting for this one to drop. Sam Harris and radical-turned-liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz sit down and show the world that open and honest dialogue is possible, even in religious disagreement. Not only is it possible, but the human race depends on it. A quick 130 pages, I finished it in two sittings and recommend this lesson in dialectics and the socratic method to every human on this planet. The rise of the regressive liberal left has been making me sick lately and it's refreshing to hear so Been waiting for this one to drop. Sam Harris and radical-turned-liberal Muslim Maajid Nawaz sit down and show the world that open and honest dialogue is possible, even in religious disagreement. Not only is it possible, but the human race depends on it. A quick 130 pages, I finished it in two sittings and recommend this lesson in dialectics and the socratic method to every human on this planet. The rise of the regressive liberal left has been making me sick lately and it's refreshing to hear some sane voices. Here's one of my favorite excerpts from Nawaz: x"Critiquing Islam, critiquing any idea, is not bigotry. 'Islamophobia' is a troubled and inherently unhelpful term. Yes, hatred of Muslims by neo-Nazi-style groups does exist, and it is a form of cultural intolerance, but that must never be conflated with the free-speech right to critique Islam. Islam is, after all, an idea; we cannot expect its merits or demerits to be accepted if we cannot openly debate it... My view is that no idea is above scrutiny, and no people are beneath dignity."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bakunin

    An interesting read. Majid Nawaz is a muslim who is trying to reform islam and in this book lays out his views on islam and how we can reform it. To put it bluntly: Nawaz believes that islam can be reformed because every text needs a method to interpret it. If we can change the interpretation of islam, we can also change the militant aspects of it. I am still agnostic as to whether this can be done or not so I look forward to reading more on the subject. Either way, hats off to Sam Harris and Ma An interesting read. Majid Nawaz is a muslim who is trying to reform islam and in this book lays out his views on islam and how we can reform it. To put it bluntly: Nawaz believes that islam can be reformed because every text needs a method to interpret it. If we can change the interpretation of islam, we can also change the militant aspects of it. I am still agnostic as to whether this can be done or not so I look forward to reading more on the subject. Either way, hats off to Sam Harris and Majid Nawaz for starting a dialogue which is essential for the future of the West

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zaki

    Yeah, dialogue is only a way to resolve issues. It's a way to talk about problems that are prevailing in the modern world and find their solutions on the basis of humanistic values. In this book, Maajid Nawaz (ex Islamist) and Sam Harris (atheist) talked about Jihadism and Islamism. Just blaming west or religion wouldn't do any good. You've to oppose these forces systematically. You've to create a discourse that would tackle these ideologies politically, as well as culturally. Although I don't ag Yeah, dialogue is only a way to resolve issues. It's a way to talk about problems that are prevailing in the modern world and find their solutions on the basis of humanistic values. In this book, Maajid Nawaz (ex Islamist) and Sam Harris (atheist) talked about Jihadism and Islamism. Just blaming west or religion wouldn't do any good. You've to oppose these forces systematically. You've to create a discourse that would tackle these ideologies politically, as well as culturally. Although I don't agree with everything mentioned in the book, it was a good read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    uosɯɐS

    I'd been wanting to read a Sam Harris book for a while now, and the brevity of this one made it a good candidate for the 8-books-in-8-weeks library challenge. Also, I had seen some short video clips (supposedly, a documentary is going to be made?) of this dialogue and was sufficiently impressed that I wanted to know the whole dialogue. Well, I'm glad I read this one. I was glad that a Muslim was one of the participants. In the West, it's easy to talk 'about' things that are far away without inclu I'd been wanting to read a Sam Harris book for a while now, and the brevity of this one made it a good candidate for the 8-books-in-8-weeks library challenge. Also, I had seen some short video clips (supposedly, a documentary is going to be made?) of this dialogue and was sufficiently impressed that I wanted to know the whole dialogue. Well, I'm glad I read this one. I was glad that a Muslim was one of the participants. In the West, it's easy to talk 'about' things that are far away without including anybody from far away (and especially in the current political climate, I imagine there might be less of them here in the US). I really don't know much about Islam. Obviously I know terrorism exists, and that many terrorists are Muslims (but also, here in the US, we have plenty of violence that is of domestic origin). But, if I hear someone making an argument that they are doing this for religious reasons, it is easy for me to be swayed by that argument. Likewise, if I hear that they are doing it for political reasons, it is easy for me to be swayed by that. I imagine the truth, as with many things in life, is that it isn't all one or the other. It is both. And probably other factors are contributing as well. But that still leaves room to determine what proportions each type of motivation might have. I feel that Sam Harris is a bit naively infatuated with the idea of "(https://www.edge.org/response-detail/...) rational man. " Sigmund Freud, who I think was wrong about so many things, nevertheless managed to popularize the idea of an "unconscious" that may drive us to do things for reasons we ourselves do not consciously understand. I believe that unless a person if very careful in their thinking (and sometimes even despite this), it is the default to fall into the trap of verbally attributing our actions to motivations that add to some sort of (http://bigthink.com/overthinking-ever...) coherent, probably even heroic, narrative. For that reason, I am often suspicious of how people explain their own motivations. The term "anecdotal evidence" was coined because it was needed. Which is not to say that engaging in "telling our stories" isn't useful, or that such stories can never be true, but... psychology is a complicated and powerful thing. It isn't to be glossed over. Other books I need to read: The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory

  28. 5 out of 5

    John

    I really appreciate what the authors tried to do here... I just don't care much for the final result. For one thing, I'm not sure this book qualifies as a "dialog," since Sam Harris asks all the questions and keeps Mr. Nawaz on the ropes the whole time. Maybe it should have been called ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE: A CROSS-EXAMINATION. I would have enjoyed it more had Nawaz occasionally grilled Harris on his atheistic beliefs. If Mr. Nawaz's goal was to put Westerners at ease in regard to Is I really appreciate what the authors tried to do here... I just don't care much for the final result. For one thing, I'm not sure this book qualifies as a "dialog," since Sam Harris asks all the questions and keeps Mr. Nawaz on the ropes the whole time. Maybe it should have been called ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE: A CROSS-EXAMINATION. I would have enjoyed it more had Nawaz occasionally grilled Harris on his atheistic beliefs. If Mr. Nawaz's goal was to put Westerners at ease in regard to Islam and the expansion of Muslim influence throughout the globe, then I think he fails royally. As expected, he is quick to point out that "extremists" make up only a miniscucle percentage of the total Muslim population, yet he offers no refutation for the endless stream of polls and surveys indicating otherwise. Nawaz is a brilliant man and a capable writer (though too academic-sounding for my taste), but one gets the sense he's trying to dodge some of Harris' more pointed questions, like why is it that Islam is such a driving force for evil in the world. Harris does his best not to let Nawaz off the hook so easily, resulting in places where he poses the same question two or three times in a row. Geez, where's an editor when you need one? The conversation really collapses once Mr. Nawaz gets started on his ideas for reforming the Islamic faith. His solution: simply reinterpret Scripture to make it mean whatever you want--an approach that both Harris and I find intellectually frustrating in the extreme. After all, what is the point of studying Scripture if people are free to interpret it any way they like? And, realistically speaking, what percentage of Muslims are open to the whole "you go your way, and I'll go mine" mentality? If that's the best solution for reforming Islam, we're doomed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bloodorange

    I've been wanting to read an informative book about the politics of Islam for a while now, and I'm ready to assume (perhaps somewhat lazily) that this slim volume was the thing. It does not offer an analysis of Islam as such, it does not present the religion; instead, it gives a view of its place in today's world, and a more-than-basic explanation of why Islam, in its traditional form, does not agree with many aspects of modern Western culture. It also discusses some of the more (indirectly) pro I've been wanting to read an informative book about the politics of Islam for a while now, and I'm ready to assume (perhaps somewhat lazily) that this slim volume was the thing. It does not offer an analysis of Islam as such, it does not present the religion; instead, it gives a view of its place in today's world, and a more-than-basic explanation of why Islam, in its traditional form, does not agree with many aspects of modern Western culture. It also discusses some of the more (indirectly) problematic responses to Islam on the part of Western liberals. 1. I really appreciated the explanation of the breakdowns and divisions Maajid Nawaz gave - I think it is really hard for Christians to envisage the complex divisions among Muslims, especially as the ratios of what we perceive as 'radical' to 'liberal' are very different in the two faiths (the term used here in the widest meaning possible); also, more importantly, the very understanding of 'liberal' and 'radical' is different (this is also discussed). 2. Coming from one of the major Antemurales Christianitatis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antemur... ), I find it refreshing to see a text on Islam which isn't written from a Christian perspective or with an implied Christian context. Instead, the focus is on Islam versus human right values, or, which I find more patronizing, but nevertheless real, 'progress'. 3. Harris makes a few major points; that Islam is, in its traditional (is this a proper word?) form, a religion of conquest, to a greater degree than Christianity (I still wouldn't like to meet Cortez, though). That reformers of Islam - and, to be politically correct, other religions - are essentially unfaithful to their primary messages (but he also claims it's better to live with this dilemma than to not attempt reform). Longish quote ahead, hidden under spoiler tags: (view spoiler)[ In the twenty-first century, the moderate’s commitment to scientific rationality, human rights, gender equality, and every other modern value—values that, as you say, are potentially universal for human beings—comes from the past thousand years of human progress, much of which was accomplished in spite of religion, not because of it. So when moderates claim to find their modern, ethical commitments within scripture, it looks like an exercise in self-deception. The truth is that most of our modern values are antithetical to the specific teachings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And where we do find these values expressed in our holy books, they are almost never best expressed there. Moderates seem unwilling to grapple with the fact that all scriptures contain an extraordinary amount of stupidity and barbarism that can always be rediscovered and made holy anew by fundamentalists—and there’s no principle of moderation internal to the faith that prevents this. These fundamentalist readings are, almost by definition, more complete and consistent—and, therefore, more honest. (hide spoiler)] 4. Harris makes an interesting point about Western liberals trying to justify Islam as 'oriental' (I'm using this word to signal postcolonial, yet still patronizing perception/ white guilt; I don't remember whether Harris used it), and being tolerant of the worst aspects of the unreformed Islam. According to him, [while] they rightly question every aspect of their “own” Western culture in the name of progress, they censure liberal Muslims who attempt to do so within Islam, and they choose to side instead with every regressive reactionary in the name of “cultural authenticity” and anticolonialism.He also says that worringly, radical Muslims are more likely to be represented in the media than the 'reformed' ones also due to the fact that in the West, it is felt that the former are somewhat more genuine, and thus - representative of the faith. (This is scary; I can imagine my reaction to being 'represented' by a traditionalist Catholic - which is quite easy, since my country is currently ruled by people who represent such views. And, as Harris implies, the distance between reformed and traditionalist Muslims is greater than between liberal and traditionalist Catholics.) Probably it is a simplification - but a more intelligent one than the ones I've encountered so far. I cannot help being worried by the fact that all top positive reviews seem to be written by Americans (American atheists?)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    ETA (7/26/18): I'm seriously re-thinking my opinions of Harris' work, in light of him (and Nawaz as well), displaying strong signs of being disingenuous (or at the very least, self-righteously blinkered) enablers of proto-fascists of the American & UK right wings. Removing my rating. *** Commenting about books like this is like walking through a minefield. That very same trepidation is part of the problem. Being afraid to speak - or cowed by those who are quick to shut down any viewpoint not in to ETA (7/26/18): I'm seriously re-thinking my opinions of Harris' work, in light of him (and Nawaz as well), displaying strong signs of being disingenuous (or at the very least, self-righteously blinkered) enablers of proto-fascists of the American & UK right wings. Removing my rating. *** Commenting about books like this is like walking through a minefield. That very same trepidation is part of the problem. Being afraid to speak - or cowed by those who are quick to shut down any viewpoint not in total agreement with their own agenda - means that dialogue never has a chance whatsoever. People have their preconceived ideas, their rigid notions of what's right, a tribalistic or cultural loyalty to one religion or another, and a quickness to equate criticism of an ideology with a personal attack on them. Not to mention personal biases against whoever is speaking. Harris & Nawaz both have tons of detractors - Harris is militant, genocidal, screaming racist, etc. And Nawaz is a "house Muslim." Sorry, when criticism veers towards that kind of vocabulary....yeah, try again, Ben Affleck. Anyway, as Nawaz says, "No idea is above scrutiny, and no people are beneath dignity." It's very sound ground upon which to embark on a conversation about such a thorny issue as radical Islamism. I found this a concisely-worded and precisely-argued exchange of ideas on Islamic extremism by an avowed atheist and a reformist secular Muslim who used to be a radical Islamist. It's a quick read, but there is a lot to be mulled over and absorbed in this deeply respectful dialogue between Harris and Nawaz. It's the kind of nuanced give-and-take that is sorely lacking in the age of media soundbytes and 5 minute cable news interviews and "debates" which are little more than shoutfests. Harris and Nawaz press their dearly-held points, concede others, bounce ideas and musings off one another, and give the reader the sum total of their efforts. Definitely recommended, and welcome middle ground in tone between the defensive apologists on the left and the actual screaming racists on the right. The companion Harvard Institute of Politics debate is , in case watching it rather than reading it is of interest.

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