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What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West Hardcover – May 11, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Rauf, a Manhattan imam whose mosque is only 12 blocks from the World Trade Center site, argues that what keeps the Islamic world and America apart, and what fuels Islamic terrorism, is economics, politics, Muslim defensivenesseverything but religion. In fact, Rauf believes that America best represents Islam's true values. His major theme is the existence of an "Abrahamic ethic" which undergirds all the monotheistic religions and extols equality and justice. If Muslims, especially American Muslims, harness this Abrahamic ethic, Rauf promises Islam will once again contribute to the universal striving for a better society. In countering Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong?, Rauf raises numerous valid points: the U.S. overthrow of democratic Islamic regimes in Iran and Indonesia; U.S. creation and sponsorship of Afghan mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union; the anti-Muslim bias of American media (a point echoed by Karen Armstrong in the foreword); the massive, debilitating effect colonization had on most of the Islamic world; and the "drawing [of] lines" in the Middle East and South Asia by European powers after WWI and WWII, dooming countries with wildly diverse populations to perpetual unrest. However, Rauf presents these points sporadically and less eloquently than some previous commentators. The book's strengths include a concise history of Islam as well as brief but valuable insights into the American Muslim community. The few references to his own personal story also resonate: "Like many immigrants from Muslim lands, I discovered my Islam in America."
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“This book shows that the only possible way forward is by the assiduous cultivation of mutual respect.” (Karen Armstrong, author of The Battle for God, from the foreword)
“An excellent work of bridge building!” (Professor Dr. Hans Kung, President, Global Ethic Foundation, author of On Being a Christian Professor Dr. Hans Kung, President, Global Ethic Foundation, author of On Being a Christian)
“Wise and well-written, this important book is a ‘MUST’ for any thinking person who cares about our world.” (Lord Carey of Clifton, Chair of World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders on West-Islamic World Dialogue)
“At long last, a book that helps “us Westerners” to see Muslims as they wish to see themselves.” (Gunnar Stålsett - Bishop of Oslo, Lutheran Church of Norway, member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee)
“A searching, thoughtful and reasoned alternative to the shrill doomsayers who proclaim a ‘clash of civilizations.’” (Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information)
“The publication of this book is a timely event, providing objective, serious responses to challenges that Islam faces today.” (Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of The Heart of Islam)
Rauf argues that what keeps the Islamic world and America apart is economics, politics, Muslim defensiveness—everything but religion. (Publishers Weekly)
“An important counterweight to anti-Islamic polemics.” (Library Journal)
“An invigorating glimpse into the heart and mind of a wise Muslim seeking the higher ground.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“What’s Right with Islam... reveals a man dedicated to fitting the Muslim square peg into an American round hole - an at times awkward task that Rauf often carries out quite effectively.” (Religion Dispatches Magazine)
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Tragically it seems that prevailing views, both within the Muslim world and without, have effectively smothered the voice of rational, forward thinking, Islam.
Feisal Abdul Rauf presents the reader with a very well laid out, well crafted, highly logical and even handed presentation of the challenges that face Islamic nations and the rest of the world as we try ( some of us at least ) to find ways to coexist in mutually beneficial ways. Personally, there wasn't anything in this book that I hadn't read or experienced previously. The history of the rise and spread of Islam has been written about by many authors, each with his or her particular bias. What the good Imam has done however, is to provide a wonderfully thorough context in which to examine the history of Islam via vis it's relationship with the western world.
I challenge Tom Swift to attend Friday prayers at his local mosque. What he will experience is a sincerely warm greeting and a willingness to share very openly about Islam's core beliefs. I did this back in the late 90's and was deeply moved, not only by the personal contact, but by the Imam's firm declaration that the United States was, and I quote, " the best place in the world to be a Muslim ". I respectfully remind Mohammed Irfan Shariff, that many of Islam's greatest achievements in science and philosophy were accomplished by Sufis and that many of the world's Sufis are devoted to the Qur'an and are deeply observant Muslims.
The author ends this book with numerous, realistic, well considered recommendations, that will in all likelihood never see the light of day. Frankly, the status quo of mistrust and hostility are very important to many of our world's leaders. If they can't distract us by pointing a finger at the " evil other ", their own corruption and incompetence will be exposed. It's easier to hate, and it turns out it's much more financially remunerative, too. Even the media ( particularly in the USA ) has given up on in depth reporting in favor of slickly delivered shards of violent, negative images. Evidently, there's no profit in peace.
Still, I recommend this book very sincerely. If things are ever going to get better in this tragedy filled world, it will be people like Feisal Abdul Rauf who will show us the way.
I'll end this review with a personal note. I found myself in Malaysia in February 2004. Given the fact that Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim nation, and that my country was pursuing a highly unpopular war in Iraq, I was a bit apprehensive as to how I would be received. What I found was a people who went out of their way to assure me that the Malaysian people didn't hold individual Americans responsible for their government's policies. It was made very clear to me that to treat a guest with anything other than generosity and respect was un-Islamic.
At some level, the US population understands we are the aggressor in the world and simply doesn't want to face it. So the Islamophobia of Robert Spencer/Bernard Lewis/Kenneth Timmerman, etc. receive a warm welcome and lots of publicity from our conglomerate media.
Thank Allah for Rauf's "What's Right with Islam." I'll be buying extra copies to send to US troops in Iraq, via projects like "Books for Soldiers." The soldiers of our empire are currently being deluged with the books that dehumanize Muslims like the Nazis dehumanized the Jews. Rauf's humanity and intelligence are desperately needed to counter the hate. Hopefully, the progressive radio network of Air America will give Rauf the platform he deserves.
To complement Rauf's theological and cultural perspective, I'd recommend Robert Fisk's "The Great War of Civilization" to provide a vital political view. Fisk has commented that, given all the repression that Muslims have received from the West, it's amazing how restrained their response has been. Although, if the West continues on its path of militarism, it may encounter the sort of catastrophic "blowback" that Chalmers Johnson and other security analysts warn of.
"It also would not be a violation of church-state separation to have a subsidiary entity within the judiciary that employs religious jurists from diverse religious backgrounds to comment on the compliance of certain decisions with their religious views and to provide guidance to their religious communities on how kosher or Shariah compliant these decisions are. ' - Feisal Abdul Rauf
There is so much more insanity in this book. From Muslims didn't commit 9/11, to calling Qaradawi a respected scholar, to the convoluted analogies, and false equivalencies-it is the work of a mad man.
Everyone should read this book. Rauf is absolutely insane.
Spread the word.