The entire foreign policy and much of the domestic policy of the United States and other Western governments is based on the proposition that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, including those who are emigrating now in large numbers to Europe. But as ISIS, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups radicalize peaceful Muslims, it is imperative for these moderates to articulate a vision of Islam, and an exegesis of Islamic scripture that can withstand the challenge of Islamists, refute their understanding of Islam, and establish a firm foundation of an Islam that is genuinely peaceful, tolerant of other faiths and the freedom of expression, compatible with human rights, secular governance and modernity. It is also imperative that Westerners differentiate between allies of democracy and antagonists.
The Challenge of Modernizing Islam is the first major effort to provide a foundation of understanding and a vision of Islam that is consistent with human rights, equal rights and modernity. Veteran journalist Christine Douglass-Williams interviews the foremost moderate and reformist Muslims in the Western world, including Zuhdi Jasser, Tawfik Hamid, Sheikh Dr. Subhy Mansour, Raheel Raza, Salim Mansur, Qanta Ahmed, and others. She asks them tough questions about how they deal with problematic Qur’an passages, how they intend to get their message across to the Muslim world, and more.
Their answers are revelatory in numerous ways, even in the ways in which they disagree with one another. Douglass-Williams has captured the Islamic Reformist movement in its full intellectual ferment, laying bare the tragedies and tensions, as well as the triumphs of the Reformers. Then in the book’s second half, following the interviews, she adds a crucial series of searingly honest and illuminating reflections on the challenges the reformers face, the chances they have of succeeding, and the implications of their struggle for the future of the Western world and of all free people.
Illuminating, engaging, and thought-provoking, The Challenge of Modernizing Islam is an essential text for understanding the future of the United States and the West, and the implications of Muslim moderates’ struggle for the free world.