Majid, a scholar at the University of New England, pursues the noble goal of tearing down animosity between Islam and America in this . . . important work. Through a mix of history, personal reflections on being a Muslim in America, and musings about politics, Majid argues that a future of good will and understanding is possible and offers suggestions for achieving it. Though short, the book contains a wealth of fascinating historical information that bolsters his larger political aims, such as the phenomenon of American-funded colleges in the Middle East. . . . Majid’s message is critical in today’s political climate, and this work is a worthwhile contribution to an ongoing dialogue.
)Majid, born in Morocco, raised a Muslim, educated in the U.S., and now an American, offers a personal view of the tensions between the U.S. and Islam and the foundation for moving forward. He begins, and ends, with the revolutionary idea that embodies the U.S.: the promise of liberty, free inquiry, new ideas, and a democratic spirit and the hope it engenders. In between, he argues that both sides have used sacred scriptures and unexamined religious beliefs to justify social injustice, misguided foreign-policy choices, and acts of aggression. Although both sides need to rethink their relationship to their respective traditions, reevaluate their own assumptions, and reexamine their place in the world today, the U.S. needs, in particular, to return to its revolutionary roots—roots planted in the soil of reason, not divine providence. The path forward will require speaking the truth. Forthright and fair, Majid’s analysis will not satisfy everyone. But that’s exactly the point. ‘Conversations humanize us; unyielding certitudes turn us into warring tribes and killing machines.’
)As the Moroccan American scholar Anouar Majid reminds us on the first page of his latest book, Islam and America: Building a Future without Prejudice, we are drowning in information about the relationships of Muslims and the West but are not yet being rescued by this expanding corpus. This and his earlier We Are All Moors come as close to any books I have read recently that hold out promise for such a rescue, at least in the forward-thinking rhetoric that outlasts the general effluvium of political punditry. . . . Islam and America is a narrative that harnesses anecdotes and historical trivia to produce a text that is accessible to a wide range of readers and at the same time entertains as it informs. The unique aspect of the book is the reflective experience of a Muslim-born American from Morocco. . . . The value of Majid’s writing is that it argues for a focus on the common humanity that can shine through ethnic and religious filters, but a focus that is not shy about exposing the ugly side or prejudice on all sides. . . . Majid provides a compelling portrait, much abridged from the available literature he had read, on how Muslims viewed Americans and were viewed by Americans long before the tragedy of 9/11 and initiation of two wars costly both in lives and American prestige.
(Springer Science + Business Media
)Islam and America is a narrative that harnesses anecdotes and historical trivia to produce a text that is accessible to a wide range of readers and at the same time entertains as it informs.
)Most books on Islam these days stress the negative, but Majid builds a highly personal and well documented blueprint for proudly being American and Muslim at the same time. Beneath the media-hyped 'clash of civilizations' there is far too much 'trash talking' and not near enough reasoned exploration of the principles that should unite the best values of both the United States and the Islamic World. As the current 'Arab Spring' demonstrates, the future belongs to those who challenge the status quo rather than pandering to past prejudice and perpetuating the injustice that tarnishes all sides. What makes this book stand out from the rest are both Majid's self reflection as a Muslim from Morocco and his passion for retelling the principles that at one time made the American experiment the envy of the world. As Majid persuasively argues, Americans and Muslims do not straddle a rigid cultural divide but can build on shared values if everyone recognizes that past prejudice is the enemy of future progress.
(Daniel Martin Varisco, Hofstra University; author of Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation)Anouar Majid's Islam and America is a bold and courageous book, putting a millennium of history, theology, and culture into context and challenging assumptions on all sides. Islam and America should be read by all who are perplexed at the catastrophic relations between the United States and the Muslim world, between Israel and her neighbors—who might come away with renewed faith that we still have it in our power to begin the world anew.
(Robert J. Allison, Suffolk University; author of The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776-1815)Possessed of a profound knowledge of several societies, Anouar Majid is that very rare writer in our noisily polemical culture—someone who offers true wisdom and understanding.
(Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet and beyond)
Praise for We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslims and Other Minorities
Majid draws much-needed comparisons between events leading to atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition and present attitudes and trends, including growing disdain for Muslims in Europe and Hispanics in the U.S. . . . With this intriguing historical analysis, Majid sounds a clear warning against the West's latest slide toward cultural scapegoating.
)Praise for We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslims and Other Minorities
An alternative history of European xenophobia that will stimulate and provoke readers across the political spectrum. This work will generate criticism and conversation; it will be taken up by intellectual reading clubs as well as graduate seminars and should be made available to all academic audiences as well as informed readers.
)Praise for A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent Is Vital to Islam
Majid argues that the practice of discussion and dissent, which he broadly dubs ‘heresy,’ has died in Islamic cultures and America, resulting in a dangerous stagnation of thought in both groups—a trait the two groups have in common despite their opposition to each other. He says that Muslims, and some Americans, are incapable of engaging in critical self-examination, afraid to suspend their beliefs even briefly for analysis.
)Praise for A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent Is Vital to Islam
A towering Islamic intellectual.
(Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary)Praise for A Call for Heresy: Why Dissent Is Vital to Islam
Once upon a time, heretics were burned at the stake. You’re about to meet a man who would put a microphone in their hand and have all of us listen to them. Heresy, says Anouar Majid, just might save us from an apocalyptic future. . . . A Call for Heresy: I hope a lot of people read it.