Saturday, 14 November 2015

Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Bringing forward a post that I planned for next week, this short book is a dialogue between Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz. Harris is a longstanding critic of the religion of Islam and Nawaz made a change from recruiting for a militant Islamic organization to become a dedicated opponent of Jihad and all forms of Islamic extremism. The debate was conducted in the spirit of critical rationalism (I may be wrong and you may be right and with an effort we may be able to get nearer to the truth) and it provides a direction for the ongoing conversation that is required to make progress amidst the religious and cultural conflicts that divide the world at present.
Nawaz has a nuanced position with three significant propositions which I will put out and invite people to go to the source for more explanation. He suggests “what can unite us is a set of religion-neutral values for focussing on the universality of human, democratic and secular values we can arrive at some common ground”. I like that idea and lets see how it goes. The three propositions.
1. Islam can be interpreted as a religion of peace (and he makes a scholarly case for that, which I can’t judge).
2. He can hardly find the words to express his scorn and contempt for the ignorant and malicious leftwing allies and apologists for Islam who invented Islamophobia as a straw dummy to vent their spleen.
3. Jihadists have to be confronted and physically obliterated to the maximum extent that is possible. He adds that this will not be a permanent solution without a win on the hearts and minds front, which may even mean changing the mind of the leftwing apologists.
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