The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl

By Khaled M. Abou El Fadl

Regardless of President George W. Bush's assurances that Islam is a relaxed faith and that every one reliable Muslims starvation for democracy, confusion persists and much too many Westerners stay confident that Muslims and terrorists are synonymous. within the aftermath of the assaults of Sept. 11, the next wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the new bombings in London, an unheard of volume of realization has been directed towards Islam and the Muslim global. but, in spite of this elevated scrutiny, lots of the public discourse concerning Islam revolves round the activities of extremist factions akin to the Wahhabis and al-Qa'ida. yet what of the Islam we do not pay attention approximately? because the second-largest and fastest-growing faith on this planet, Islam is deemed through greater than a thousand million Muslims to be a resource of serenity and religious peace, and a touchstone for ethical and moral counsel. whereas extremists have an effect upon the faith that's wildly disproportionate to their numbers, moderates represent nearly all of Muslims all over the world. it really is this rift among the quiet voice of the moderates and the deafening statements of the extremists that threatens the way forward for the religion. within the nice robbery, Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of many world's preeminent Islamic students, argues that Islam is at present passing via a transformative interval no much less dramatic than the hobbies that swept via Europe through the Reformation. At this severe juncture there are thoroughly antagonistic worldviews inside Islam competing to outline this nice international faith. The stakes have by no means been larger, and the way forward for the Muslim global hangs within the stability. Drawing at the wealthy culture of Islamic historical past and legislations, the nice robbery is an impassioned protection of Islam opposed to the encroaching strength of the extremists. As an finished Islamic jurist, Abou El Fadl roots his arguments in long-standing ancient felony debates and delineates element via element the ideals and practices of average Muslims, distinguishing those tenets from the corrupting affects of the extremists. From the position of girls in Islam to the character of jihad, from democracy and human rights to terrorism and battle, Abou El Fadl builds a necessary imaginative and prescient for a average Islam. in the end, the nice majority of Muslims who oppose extremism have a desperately wanted voice to aid reclaim Islam's nice ethical culture.

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In the Muslim world, different societies, cultures, and movements responded to the destabilizing impact of modernity in a variety of ways. Some, like the Kemalist movement in Turkey, for example, responded by attempting to Westernize and move as far away from Islam as possible. Others, while rejecting Western culture, attempted to reconcile Islam and modernism by emphasizing that scientific and rational thought is completely consistent with Islamic ethics. Wahhabism responded to modernity’s destabilizing forces, and to its overpowering moral and social insecurities, by running for shelter.

Historically, the Islamic faith and Shari’a law have been represented by several competing schools of theological and jurisprudential thought, the most powerful and notable of these organized into privately run professional guilds. Although the state often claimed to rule in God’s name, the legitimacy of such claims were challenged by these professional guilds. The Protestant Reformation did not seek to remove religion from the public sphere altogether but to challenge the monopoly and religious despotism of the Catholic Church.

8 In his teachings, ‘Abd al-Wahhab consistently emphasized that there was no middle of the road for a Muslim: either a Muslim was a true believer or not. And if a Muslim was not a true believer, according to his standards, ‘Abd al-Wahhab had no qualms about declaring that Muslim an infidel and then The Rise of the Early Puritans 49 treating him as such. If a Muslim explicitly or implicitly committed an act that betrayed the impurity of his belief in God or implicitly or explicitly “associated partners with God”9 —an Islamic expression meaning to fail to believe that there is one and only one God who is immutable and eternal.

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