The entire foreign policy and much of the domestic policy of the United States and other Western governments are based on the proposition that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, including those who are emigrating in large numbers to Europe and North America. But as Islamist groups and many mosques radicalize peaceful Muslims and appeal to the teachings of the Koran, Hadith, and Sunnah, it is imperative for moderates and reformists to articulate a vision of Islam and an exegesis of Islamic texts that can withstand the challenge of Islamists and the ulema who have declared the sanctity and immutability of the text. Instead, they must re-establish a firm foundation of Islam that is modernized, genuinely peaceful, tolerant, pluralistic, and compatible with secular governance, the freedom of speech, human rights, and equality.
The Challenge of Modernizing Islam is the first major effort to provide that foundation. Veteran journalist Christine Douglass-Williams interviews foremost moderate and reformist Muslims in the Western world. She asks them tough questions about how they deal with problematic Koran passages, how they intend to get their message across to the Muslim world, and more.
Their answers are revelatory, even in the ways in which they disagree with one another. Douglass-Williams has captured the Islamic Reformist movement in its full intellectual ferment, laying bare the tensions and triumphs of the Reformers. In the book's second half, she adds a crucial series of searingly honest and illuminating reflections on the challenges the reformers face, the chances they have of succeeding, and the implications of their struggle for the future of the Western world and of all free people.
Illuminating, engaging, and thought-provoking, The Challenge of Modernizing Islam is an essential text for understanding the future of the United States and the West, and the implications of Muslim moderates' struggle for the free world.
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About the Author
Christine Douglass-Williams is a nine-time international award-winning journalist and television producer (including Telly, Videographer, and Omni Awards), conducting over 1,700 live interviews. She is a past federally appointed Director with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and a former appointee to the Office of Religious Freedom in Foreign Affairs. She also serves as a political advisor.
Christine has authored hundreds of blogs, articles, and columns. Her writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Jewish Press, Breaking Israel News, the Middle East Quarterly, FrontPage Magazine, Hudson Institute, among many other venues, and the Gatestone International Policy Council, at which she has served on the Board of Governors.
Christine is a daily writer at Jihad Watch, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center; and has authored a monograph for the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., as part of its Civilizational Jihad series titled: “Fired by the Canadian Government for Criticizing IslamMulticultural Canada: A Weak Link for Islamization.”
As a former on-the-beat political and crime news reporter and newsroom editor, Christine has also worked as a regular national columnist and news analyst with Metro News (owned by the Toronto Star). She was also a senior advisor to the Hudson Institute in New York.
Read an Excerpt
"Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a well-known Somali-born activist and former Dutch politician who has rejected the possibility of the emergence of a moderate Islam, has more recently stated, “Both Christianity and Judaism have had their eras of reform. I would argue that the time has come for a Muslim Reformation.” She followed up with a book entitled “Heretic” wherein she asserts, “ordinary Muslims are ready for change”. According to reformist Dr. Zuhdi Jasser; “normative Islam is what comes out of Al-Azhar University and Saudi schools, which is the majority of what is being taught. It needs tons of reform.” With the explosion of global information about Islam since 9/11, fueled by the Internet, Islam is embroiled in a turf war between ruling Muslim despots, backward clerics who seek to “reform” Islam back to the barbaric 7th century, and those who seek to reform Islam to modernity. The West ought to support the latter in its efforts to evolve.
Understanding the difference between Muslims who practice their faith personally, from Islamists who thrive toward a political Islam and to impose their ideologies globally, is the fundamental goal of this endeavor. It is imperative for citizens and authorities in the West to understand this differentiation, as Islamists seek to infiltrate through the vast numbers of Muslim immigrating to the West. Dr. Salim Mansur warns that Westerners “should not be nonchalant about Western values and see them as natural and God-given. People have fought and died for values like gender and race equity, free speech and the fragile notion of freedom. Such a notion does not exist around the world but has emerged in Western civilization.”
It is unrealistic to implement policies that ban Muslim immigration, to deport Muslims already living in the West, or stop every penny crossing our borders from Salafist-funding states in the Middle East, but we can limit the influence of Islamism by asking questions, and to immunize ourselves with knowledge and open dialogue. This book will provide a foundation to ask valid questions.
For the purposes of this book, the word “moderate” means a form of Islam that accepts pluralism and is compatible with modernity and Western democracy. It does not mean that a Muslim can openly rebuke the tactics of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) while stealthily advocating Sharia law globally, and then be deemed a moderate. The media often reports stories of Muslims who condemn the brutality of ISIS and al Qaeda as un-Islamic, but upon further research, many of these so-called moderates have ties to Islamist organizations and are on record advocating Sharia law globally. When close to 100 Muslims in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada visited the Alberta legislature to pray for the families of the victims of terror attacks in Ottawa and near Montreal in October 2014, accolades went out across the country for this show of solidarity with Canada. Edmonton Imam Bassam Fares was quoted as saying: “When these types of attacks happen, we all, as Canadians, stand against them...We want to offer our condolences, and show our solidarity with these families.” Fares’ words sounded sincere, but Fares is an Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), one of the only Muslim organizations in the world to openly and admit its origins and ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. "
Table of Contents
Foreword Dr. Daniel Pipes vii
Foreword Robert Spencer xi
Chapter 1 Dr. Zuhdi Jasser 17
Chapter 2 Raheel Raza 41
Chapter 3 Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour 59
Chapter 4 Dr. Tawfik Hamid 77
Chapter 5 Dr. Salim Mansur 95
Chapter 6 Dr. Qanta Ahmed 109
Chapter 7 Dr. Jalal Zuberi 121
Chapter 8 Shireen Qudosi 131
Chapter 9 Islam and Islamism: Identifying the Enemy 143
Chapter 10 Moderates and Reformists 157
Chapter 11 Problematic Islamic Texts 171
Chapter 12 The "Islamophobia" Deception 189
Chapter 13 The Israel Factor 203
Chapter 14 Who Speaks for Muslims? 213
A Timeline History of Islam 253
What People are Saying About This
“This well-written book should not be ignored. With elegance and determination, Christine Douglass-Williams documents a variety of Muslim reformers, of a wide range of backgrounds and persuasions. These courageous men and women should be as well-known as human rights dissidents Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, and Havel were during the Cold War. Through a series of probing interviews and careful reflection, Douglass-Williams draws out the nature of reformers’ inner struggles and ideals, contrasting them with the beliefs of Islamists. This book is highly recommended for those wishing to learn more about Muslim reformers, and it is a must-read for US policymakers who wish to understand the challenge of Islamism in America and the world today.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and Founder of the AHA Foundation
“Incisive and informed,The Challenge ofModernizing IslambyChristine Douglass-Williams offers us the powerful insight needed to launch a new conversation about Islam. It fills the mind with deep knowledge and urgent necessity.”
Edwin Black, author ofIBM and the HolocaustandThe Farhud
“My library contains a wall of books about modern Islam. But hardly a one of them covers the topic of this important study by Christine Douglass-Williams….She also helps establish this movement as a serious intellectual endeavor, putting contemporary modernizers on the map as never before, thereby boosting their cause. Given the global threat of Islamism, that is a constructive, indeed a great achievement.”
From the Foreword by Daniel Pipes
“The Challenge of Modernizing Islam is extraordinary, refreshing, and much needed. The interviews that Christine Douglass-Williams conducts with some of the leading moderate Muslim spokesmen in the United States and Canada are unique in their probing honesty. Douglass-Williams also provides illuminating ways for readers to avoid hazards that have misled numerous analysts of Islam and its prospects for reform. The Challenge of Modernizing Islam uniquely equips readers to make an informed and intelligent evaluation of how peaceful the future of non-Muslim countries is likely to be.”
From the Foreword by Robert Spencer