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What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West Paperback – Bargain Price, April 26, 2005
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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 ChristianProfessor 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 )
About the Author
Feisal Abdul Rauf is the imam of Masjid al-Farah in New York City. Shortly after the attacks of September 11, he appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including BBC World, ABC News, CBS Evening News, CNN, and 60 Minutes. Born in Kuwait to a long line of imams, Abdul Rauf was educated in England, Egypt, and Malaysia. He is also a graduate of Columbia University in the United States. In 1997, Imam Abdul Rauf founded the ASMA Society, a not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to building bridges between the American public and American Muslims, and cofounded the Cordoba Initiative, a multi-faith effort to help heal the relationship between the Muslim world and America. A trustee of the Islamic Center of New York, he is on the board of One Voice, a group whose initiative is to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and was recently appointed as a member of the Council of 100 Leaders to the World Economic Forum on West-Islamic World Dialogue. Abdul Rauf is the author of two previous books, Islam: A Search for Meaning and Islam: A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should Know About the Shari'ah.
Top customer reviews
Nonetheless, the exposition of key concepts both of Islam, of comparative religion, and of the development and practice of the U.S. Constitution, does deserve at least 4 stars, and it will be a good reading for anyone not already too prejudiced to consider real issues of both Islam and political theory in a fair light.
There are a couple mistakes that I think point to some oversights on edition, as I suppose Rauf knows them to be inexact, like dates and such in the history section as it deals not just with modern history or early Islamic history, but what is in between. None of them, though, distracts, so I will not point to them. Probably more importantly, this book is from 2004 and it shows. It is quickly becoming dated, and it would merit to be updated by Rauf himself in several places. The most obvious updates would be the growth of Islamophobia in all Western countries; the changes in the situation in the three Muslim conflicts he identifies as most important: Israel, Chechnya and Kashmir, but also in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the Neptunian Revolutions, in particular the Arab Spring, which also undermines somewhat his quasi-Chomskian argument for economic development before formal democracy. It will be noticeable to any American reader, even if not familiar with these international developments, at his mention of housing and automobile as the engines of the American economy.
A more important objection which would still be fair is that Rauf still promotes some of his ideological positions a little too much and his commitment to interfaith dialogue sometimes clouds real issues. Within Islam, he overstates the importance of Sufism and Sufis in some contexts and historical moments; but he underestimates the importance of Shiism and Shiites. In both cases, too, he never explains the very real theological differences between branches, which might be arcane for Christians and shouldn't be a barrier to coexistence and peace among Muslims, but which matter in the same way that the differences between Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and Orthodox matter in Christianity and Christendom. Also within Islam, I think he isn't hard enough on either Wahhabis or Nation of Islam for either their unorthodox beliefs or their real life practice. Most salient is the case of the Saudi kingdom's government and policies - for someone who professes his admiration for Muhammad Asad, there should be some criticism for the regime who bans his English rendition of the Quran. Conversely, in relations between Islam and others, he makes only passing mention of the Crusades, despite their enormous importance for the Muslim world's, and particularly the Middle East's, views on Western Christian nations. He also only makes a single sentence about the Spanish Reconquista, despite its brutality and its ill effects, not just for the Muslim world which lost a capital and for Jews who were expelled from Iberia, but even for Christianity itself through the rise of its particularly virulent form of militant Catholicism, with the Inquisition, the burnings of witches, Protestants and Renaissance scientists, and the oppression of the Native Americans under the Iberian crowns, all for the sake of Christianity. He also doesn't mention anything at all about the Barbary Wars, which is what really marred the reputation of Islam in America forever. And although he correctly understands the importance of the modern corporation and the modern financial markets in creating and sustaining American and Western capitalism, he seems to ignore the creation of Islamic banking in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, designed to be compatible with modernity and Islam alike. I don't know if that is a sincere spot of ignorance or an intentional omission, but it should not be left out of a book that seeks to find common ground. After the 2008 financial crisis, Islamic banking, which is full reserve, should seriously be considered even by nations without large Muslim populations as an alternative system immune to the kind of shocks the world is suffering.
Still, all of this is forgivable, overall, in a book that seeks to set a common ground and start a respectful dialogue. Other books can come later to fill in these blanks. The major defect of this book is that its more enthusiastic audience are people who do not need to listen to a conference on the common philosophical ground and concerns between Islam and American values; while those who most need to learn about this common ground and concerns are those least interested in hearing about it.