Terrorism and the spread of Anti-Western/anti-American sentiments throughout the Islamic world have caused recent discussions of Islam in the Western media to focus exclusively on Islamic Fundamentalism. As a result, an entire school of more peaceful and tolerant Islamic dialogue has been overlooked.
Abdou Filali-Ansary presents an overview of contemporary Muslim thinking and dispels the popular misconception that Islam and violence are one and the same. To do this, he provides a concise summary and analysis of the work of 16 major Islamic scholars from around the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, whose work has often been misunderstood or unknown. Filali-Ansary discusses the work of scholars including Jacques Berque, Marshall Hodgson, Maxine Rodinson, Ernest Gellner, Mohammed Abed-Jabri and Aziz-Al Azmeh. Each chapter presents an analysis of a particular scholar’s answer to a series of thought-provoking questions, such as “Is it possible to propose a modern interpretation of the Koran?”; “Is a religious reform of Islam possible?”; and “Is it time for a reform of Islam?” Although the authors all share a common belief that Islamic reform must come from a renewed focus and respect for the universal ethical vision of Islam, the diversity of their collective works demonstrates that the study of Islam is not limited to a single approach.
This compilation and analysis is sure to become required reading for American scholars interested in Islamic studies and those who would like to understand if an “Islamic exception” truly exists. His work provides the reader with a solid foundation upon which to build a complete understanding of Islam, its history, its present and its future.