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Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty
     

Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty

by Mustafa Akyol
 

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From furious reactions to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to the suppression of women, news from the Muslim world begs the question: is Islam incompatible with freedom? With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Mustafa Akyol traces the ideological and historical roots of political Islam. The years following Muhammad's passing in 632

Overview

From furious reactions to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad to the suppression of women, news from the Muslim world begs the question: is Islam incompatible with freedom? With an eye sympathetic to Western liberalism and Islamic theology, Mustafa Akyol traces the ideological and historical roots of political Islam. The years following Muhammad's passing in 632 AD saw an intellectual "war of ideas" rage between rationalist, flexible schools of Islam and the more dogmatic, rigid ones. The traditionalist school won out, fostering perceptions of Islam as antithetical to modernity. However, through his careful reexamination of the currents of Muslim thought, Akyol discovers a flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and the unique "Islamo-liberal synthesis" of present-day Turkey. Only by accepting a secular state, he powerfully asserts, can Islamic societies thrive. Persuasive and inspiring, Islam without Extremes offers a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and religious, political, economic, and social freedoms.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Turkish journalist Akyol clarifies the complexities and contradictions of Islam in this indispensable book. He demonstrates how the harsh tribal cultures of the Arabian desert in the 7th century shaped Islam for centuries since their traditions evolved into unquestioned rules that were often at odds with the Qur'an. The Qur'an stresses family, rights for women, protection of the weak, the use of reason, and the freedom to choose—teachings similar to Jewish and Christian writings of the time. After Muhammad's death, opposing forces (adhering to tradition or the employment of reason as guides for life) clashed bitterly for centuries, their tribal harshness creating a political Islam. Yet Akyol argues that the Qur'an doesn't even include a definition of government. The resulting Islamic political systems are the products of men attempting to recreate the caliphate of 7th century Arabia, a goal that Akyol argues is impractical. This even-handed scholarly work, which also helps explain the rise of the Taliban and other extremists, makes Islam accessible to Western readers. (July)
American Spectator - Doug Bandow
“Akyol is doing important work that should have an impact well beyond his native Turkey.”
Doug Bandow - American Spectator
“Akyol is doing important work that should have an impact well beyond his native Turkey.”
Library Journal
05/01/2014
A probing examination of how certain cultural and political interpretations of the Qur'an have translated into Islamic extremism in the modern world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393070866
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/18/2011
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,366,164
Product dimensions:
5.64(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.16(d)

Meet the Author

Mustafa Akyol lives in Istanbul and is a columnist for the Turkish newspapers Hürriyet Daily News and Star. He has written opinion pieces for the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and Newsweek.

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