In this short book, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz invite you to join an urgently needed conversation: Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism? What do words like Islamism, jihadism, and fundamentalism mean in today's world?
Remarkable for the breadth and depth of its analysis, this dialogue between a famous atheist and a former radical is all the more startling for its decorum. Harris and Nawaz have produced something genuinely new: they engage one of the most polarizing issues of our time - fearlessly and fully - and actually make progress.
Islam and the Future of Tolerance has been published with the explicit goal of inspiring a wider public discussion by way of example. In a world riven by misunderstanding and violence, Harris and Nawaz demonstrate how two people with very different views can find common ground.
©2015 Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz (P)2015 Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz
Thank you for this thought provoking and mind opening dialogue. Maajid & Sam are refreshingly intelligent, well spoken men who together are leading the way forward in our troubled times. I look forward to them collaborating again in the future.
What a fabulously revealing conversation! Like Sam, I can honestly say I have had my views changed by this book - mostly by Majid's contribution (I was already familiar with Sam's views). The thing I appreciate most about both authors is their respect and unrelenting search for facts or, where facts are less relevant (pluralism in interpreting scripture, for example) for the most plausible and helpful answers or conclusions. They both always play the ball not the player. Never will they obscure an argument by running down an opponent, although neither shy away from sharing facts about their opponents that do the work for them! I love it!!
The book is an excellent example of how 2 reasonable people with differing views can come together to have a rational and informed discussion around a topic with such far reaching consequences for civilisation. One of the first of many I hope. The book itself is rather short but the informal post dialogue was a treat and made up for the book's length.
I've found myself very frustrated lately with one side's refusal to engage in any meaningful way with difficult questions and the other's refusal to show any empathy and this conversation does both. It's upfront and challenging but always respectful and seemingly quite thorough.
I think this is very useful reading for anyone wanting a better understanding of the topics, and for people expressing their opinions publicly backed only by assumptions and snippets of information from news headlines. It explains common terms that we hear all the time and many that I, for one, had never heard of but now see as forming the basis of important distinctions between beliefs.
Check it out. It's short and very well written.
This is one of the most important discussions being had at this time. Striving to find a peaceful outcome in this vastly complex situation is an admirable goal, and one that Sam and Maajid have tackled head on.
Thought provoking and brilliant. A great conversation between Sam and Maajid that really outlines the problems with Islamism and how both Muslims and non-muslims can come together to face this threat.
Clarified a lot of the issues for me and gave intelligent suggestions for how to move forward. I'll be pursuing other titles by both authors.
A critical and clear-headed approach to a controversial and polarizing subject. Sam and Maajid are to be commended for starting such an essential conversation.
Two people who don't agree on everything, are able to have a meaningful and productive conversation about a complex set of challenges to be faced in the modern age.
"Must read for an honest debate on the topics"
As the late Christopher Hitchens expertly said about arguments between two matched "opponents", it is very seldom that the position of both will remain exactly the same, changes and concessions will occur and the debate will advance. Even if only a little at a time.
In this book you can see Sam and Maajid views growing better and more refined about the topics of Islam, islamism, secularism, the muslim society, radicalization and tolerance.
I'd already read all of Sam's books, so Maajid was the greatest surprise for me and greatly enriched my views about radicalization (and the different levels it can happen) and islamic culture in general (specially the many possible interpretations of the Quran, the Hadith and other texts).
I'll be sure to read his book "Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism" as soon as possible.
This book is a must read for everyone who wants to honestly discuss the topics abovementioned and I highly recommend it.
(I'm sorry if there are any typos or mistakes, I'm brazilian and english is my second language)
"Ready for re-listening"
Both authors speak beautifully, leaving space for many thoughts about their probing ideas. Voice performance matters in an audiobook, and the even, calm of the authors' voices eased my way into challenging material. Since my background knowledge of Islam is limited, I had to really think about each concept presented. I am inspired to listen again to the book, and read the materials mentioned in the verbal bibliography.
"A conversation we need"
I recommend this book because it is an intellectually honest conversation that presents carefully considered issues in Islam from two very different perspectives which, in my opinion, is the reason this book succeeds. It is also important that this book paves the way for other people to engage in similar honest discussions because we cannot stick our heads in the sand and ignore issues.
The authors represent themselves. I think Maajid Nawaz had a more central role in this discussion and made a compelling case as to how one can maneuver carefully and try to reform Islam in a way that will lead to secularism and human rights. On the other hand, Sam Harris was skeptical and made excellent points as to why some core issues of the faith may never be subject to a solution.
Sam Harris was very effective in showcasing the problem in western societies like the USA where a large group of politically correct groups of people are trying to control criticism of various ideas including Islam because it may offend or they think religion has nothing to do with the problems in Muslim majority countries. This is also a vital message of the book in my opinion.
Not really, but that was not the point. The problem demands that we cast aside emotions and arm ourselves with a rational and critical approach.
"Sets red herrings aside"
This is an amazingly enlightened honest conversation, between two individuals that focus on real root issues instead of grandstanding
"Courageous and fascinating"
There's a lot of food for thought in this interesting dialogue about one of the most pressing matters of our age. Arguments between the authors are laid out in clarity, directness, and civilized manner - a true delight. They're looking at reality with open eyes, sense of urgency, and concerns yet offering actions which could help the liberal civilization to remain on course.
"Learned so much! Wow!"
Eye opening, enlightening. Everyone confused on this topic (basically everyone), should read/listen to this book, the authors lay it out perfectly. Hey, I'm pretty liberal, but the "regressive left" needs an injection of this book to clear up the confusion on this topic.
"The new standard for discussing Islamic issues."
This is the kind of book where I wish to listen to over and over again just to ingrain everything said in it into my mind. As a muslim struggling with other muslims, this book was the thing that set my mind free from a lot of weights that I felt on my shoulder. It tackled topics that have been eating my mind for so long in a way that pushed these thoughts towards progress for the first time in recent Islam history. I have to thank both sam and maajid for these results. Maajid for giving muslims the exact mentality that we should take for tolerance, and Sam for asking exactly the right questions that needed to be asked to push the conversation forward. This ability of Sam to know exactly what to ask and to take every topic to its logical end astonishes me every time I listen to him.
This should be the book that starts the new standard of discussing Islam. no beating around the bushes. Islam either can or cannot exist with modern society, and we need to push the conversation to find out.
other than that, the performance of both was amazing. It started with them sounding like they were reading from a book rather than talking, but slowly turned into a natural conversation. The additional conversation at the end after the book was published was also very humanizing.
"A bridge to understanding "the other side""
This book does a good job of creating a foundation for common ground and the formation of unique opinions and belief in a still more polarizing world.
Additionally, it features a section of reader questions not found in the printed version, where the authors further expands on the arguments raised in the book.
"Idealistic almost to a Fault"
Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Nawab are tremendous spokespersons for their particular world views. Their ideas are rational and reveal a power and resourcefulness that are at times are both disturbing and provocative. When I listened to them what I heard was a deep familiarity with the Koran and the Hadith from Mr. Nawaz and an all business pragmatism from Mr. Harris. What this is is a conversation between an ex-jihadist and an unapologetic and proud atheist. That's interesting enough to listen to. But, the chances of what Mr. Nawaz proposes are slim to none. Look, I'm an idealist too! But, a billion and a third Muslims who would need to take it on themselves to literally change the way scripture is interpreted. They would have to reform. Intractable. Sorry.
"A New Leaf"
Though Islam and the Future of Tolerance is the combined effort of authors Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz to discuss the increasingly twilit future of Islam—and though Nawaz is without question the more axial voice of the exchange as a Muslim himself—the book shares much of the character of Harris’s recent solo works. As was true of Free Will, Lying, and Waking Up (and is true of all Harris’s shorter essays and interviews), the penetration and clarity with which the material broaches its subject is, while a sober and technically serene reading experience, indicative of a disquieting sense of urgency, if not emergency; when asked to identify his position on a possible (many would say imperative) reformation within Islam as optimistic or not, Harris declines to do so, instead explaining that he simply doesn’t see an alternative, regardless his expectations for such a circumstance.
As indicated above, if there is a key emphasis to be found in this dialogue it is, I think, Nawaz’s: that being the need to stress over all else the intrinsically interpretive character of text itself—both generally and, ergo, as it concerns the Qur’an, Hadith and other pertinent scriptures of (or to) Islam (such as the Torah). To belabour that point, however repetitious an exercise, is Nawaz’s point: if Muslims can eventually be persuaded to believe that there is no singly definitive, literalistic (what Nawaz calls “vacuous”) reading of their scriptures, the authority by which Islamist and Jihadist sects attempt to assert their vision of Islam on society (the scriptures themselves) becomes at best suspect and, in all likely scenarios, bankrupt. This is not to suggest Muslims forfeit their holy texts, but that they reject to the nth any individual or group’s claims to a definitive reading. By wedding the notion of pluralism to that of textual interpretation within the collective Muslim consciousness, nominal, secular and peaceful Muslims generally are elevated within their own societies, and internationally, while the radicalized are discredited and disempowered at a root level.
In the dialogue, Nawaz isolates several Qur’anic passages and argues—convincingly, I felt—the validity of multiple (sometimes genuinely contrastive) interpretations. Harris is disposed, as likely the reader will be also, to find these examples undoubtedly encouraging; his skepticism rightfully bubbles back to the surface, however, through acknowledgement of interpretation’s seemingly unavoidable limits—limits which, in the case of the more emphatically blunt and direct passages, Nawaz’s interpretive confidences offer little in the way of resolution. Reformation within Islam, as The Future of Tolerance makes thoroughly persuasive, if not obvious, will likely have no alternative but to arrive on the success of this pluralistic project Nawaz advocates. Any possible doctrinal impasses or blind alleys therefore pose amazing threat to this project. Personally, I want to believe that Nawaz’s apparent confidence in scripture’s total susceptibility to interpretation is not just genuinely felt, but factual; this remains, however, mostly a hope at this stage. Nawaz expects—with good reason—that the process of reform will take “years of work”, and perhaps that task (and its interpretive efficacy and reach) will only be truly measurable once it is underway.
Islam and the Future of Tolerance is, as its authors make an effort to clarify both within its pages and elsewhere in the public forum, an attempt to catalyze such a process. The impetus behind their dialogue, and the larger one to which it belongs, is not the desire—as they take starkly different stances on the religion of Islam itself—but the plain need to have it. In the postscript to the audiobook (which I recommend, as Harris does, over the nonetheless-excellent print edition), both men observe how, since release, the spirit and general temperature of the exchange has been read in contrary ways—either “cantankerous” (to borrow Harris’s wording) or élan—this lending credence, no doubt, to Nawaz’s aforementioned confidences. But whatever the temperature, the resulting book is so much a refresh on the discourse as to be oxygenic; the turning over of a new leaf. Or, more accurate perhaps, of an ancient one under the prismatic light of now.
"The most important topic of our time"
So pleased to have learnt about Maajid through Sam Harris. A true leading light with a humanitarian and reasoned voice we can all listen to - believers and non-believers alike.
It has helped me to understand a topic that I too once felt the need to obsfucate out of liberal tendency.
This is a very important book and I look forward to following the continuing dialogue.
Bold conversation, one that is much needed. Educational, inspiring and shining a light on a way forward.
surely one of the most important conversations of our time. read it and encourage others to do so.
"Absolutely brilliant, a real eye opener"
Constructive debate in the quest for Human rights values, a must for anyone who wants to educate themselves on this very prevalent topic.
"The importance of dialogue"
This book shows the importance of dialogue and how vital it is to have a rich vocabulary around these ideas is. The conflict between pre-modern, modern, and post-modern perspectives is probably the biggest issue we currently face.
The book has done what it set out to do in my opinion. And having the extra part at the end only for the audio book listeners was very welcome.
this book cleared up a lot of things for me around Islam, terms used in the media and increased my overall general knowledge on people who are Muslim. This conversation is engaging due to the fact that these are the really dodgy questions no one wants to ask but the questions are put in an intellectual manner and responded to similarly. I agree with the goals of this book and think they have Greta Value.
"A valuable and insightful analysis"
Clear thoughts and balanced assessments of one of the biggest challenges that the world faces.
"A very important and engaging book"
This conversation is perfect antidote to the frustrating and usually baffling noise that constitutes the majority of public discourse about Islam, particularly online. The primary point of the book is the not even the material but the manner of conversation. It's a refreshing example of how to explore issues constructively without descending into defensiveness and ideological sleight of hand.
"The Conversation We all Need To Be Having"
A really interesting dialogue between two polar opposites. Quite a few difficult stand points addressed and explained.
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