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Muslim Ethics: Emerging Vistas Hardcover – October 15, 2004

2 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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About the Author

Amyn B. Sajoo is a Visiting Scholar at McGill University and a regular commentator on public affairs in the news media on both sides of the Atlantic.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 165 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris In Association With The Institute Of Ismaili Studies (October 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1850435502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1850435501
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,727,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
"Muslim Ethics: Emerging Vistas" was for me a very disappointing book. The title suggests that this book takes up all sorts of new, cutting edge moral issues. The first chapter does, indeed, deal briefly with bioethical issues like abortion and cloning, but there is no real surprising information here, or detailed discussion of differing views within Islam. Islam, predictably, places less emphasis on self-ownership than does the contemporary West, and this makes active euthanasia somewhat harder to justify.

The rest of the book, as I understand it, is basically an extended argument in favor of the idea that the Islamic umma, which fuses together the sacred and the secular (or din and dunya, for world and religion, in Arabic), is preferable to the liberal secular status quo that exists in West, especially in Europe. Sajoo points out that there have been a lot of philosophers in the West, such as Michael Walzer in his book, Spheres of Justice, who have become dissatisfied with the idea that civic society is nothing more than a system of restrictions on harm that make atomic individuals free to pursue the good according to their own conceptions. Instead, society needs a shared conception of the good. This is the communitarian critique of liberalism, and Sajoo appropriates it to push the umma the Islamic community -more accurately translated as nation - as a more "holistic" alternative.

Red lights should be flashing at this point. Shouldn't we be suspicious of the combination of religion and state? Sajoo assures us that these worries are misplaced, based on Orientalist bigotry against gentle Islam, which assumes Islam is monolithic and unchanging. In fact, the umma is more about a shared ethical framework than a legal system.
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