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Descripción de la editorial
Khaled Abou El Fadl, a prominent critic of Islamic puritanism, leads off this lively debate by arguing that Islam is a deeply tolerant religion. Injunctions to violence against nonbelievers stem from misreadings of the Qur'an, he claims, and even jihad, or so-called holy war, has no basis in Qur'anic text or Muslim theology but instead grew out of social and political conflict.
Many of Abou El Fadl's respondents think differently. Some contend that his brand of Islam will only appeal to Westerners and students in "liberal divinity schools" and that serious religious dialogue in the Muslim world requires dramatic political reforms. Other respondents argue that theological debates are irrelevant and that our focus should be on Western sabotage of such reforms. Still others argue that calls for Islamic "tolerance" betray the Qur'anic injunction for Muslims to struggle against their oppressors.
The debate underscores an enduring challenge posed by religious morality in a pluralistic age: how can we preserve deep religious conviction while participating in what Abou El Fadl calls "a collective enterprise of goodness" that cuts across confessional differences?
With contributions from Tariq Ali, Milton Viorst, and John Esposito, and others.
This brief book is elegant and surprising. It opens with an essay by the incomparable El Fadl, an Islamic law professor at UCLA, about tolerance in Islamic theology and among Muslims. He effectively disposes of the terrorists' intolerant interpretations of Qur'anic passages by arguing that a more accurate interpretation would acknowledge the verses' historical contexts and note that they contradict other passages in the Qur'an that are both more tolerant and more central to Islamic practice. The book's second section consists of 11 responses to El Fadl's essay by such notable figures as professors Amina Wadud and John Esposito. The book closes with a follow-up response by El Fadl, reflecting on the opinions of his co-authors. The overall effect of the three sections is quite unexpected; the reader becomes engaged in a dialogue with each writer, realizing with each essay the complexity of the problems facing modern Muslims. The major point that emerges is that while Islam is theologically tolerant of non-Muslims, individual Muslims themselves may harbor intolerant views that they unjustifiably read into the Qur'an, which El Fadl condemns as eisegesis. In two astonishing essays, respondents Tariq Ali and Abid Ullah Jan persuasively argue that the West is actually sometimes intolerant and has taken "advantage of Islamic tolerance to force Muslims into greater subservience." Most of the responses are very innovative and represent a step forward in Islamic theological analysis. This lively debate makes for a quick and informative read.