Since the end of the cold war, and then even more so since 9/11 scholars, the media and pundits have proclaimed a Clash of Civilizations. The so-called Muslim world, it is said, is not only culturally irreconcilable with the West, but also implacably hostile towards it. Such a worldview has become commonplace (including among our students). However, this worldview is not only wrong, it is also dangerous for such thinking, about nearly two billion Muslims can quickly turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy in which Islam is believed to have replaced the communist threat of the cold war. Unnecessary conflicts and wars are the consequence.
Having said all this, it is also the case that there are significant and fundamental problems in the Muslim world (as there are in the “Christian or Western world”). In “Reopening Muslim Minds,” Mustafa Akyol, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and opinion writer for The New York Times, both diagnoses “the crisis of Islam” in the modern world, and offers a way forward. Diving deeply into Islamic theology, and also sharing lessons from his own life story, he reveals how Muslims lost the universalism that made them a great civilization in their earlier centuries. He especially demonstrates how values often associated with Western Enlightenment — freedom, reason, tolerance, and an appreciation of science — had Islamic counterparts, which sadly were cast aside in favor of more dogmatic views, often for political ends.
Elucidating complex ideas with engaging prose and storytelling, Reopening Muslim Minds borrows lost visions from medieval Muslim thinkers such as Ibn Rushd (aka Averroes), to offer a new Muslim worldview on a range of sensitive issues: human rights, equality for women, freedom of religion, or freedom from religion. While frankly acknowledging the problems in the world of Islam today, Akyol offers a clear and hopeful vision for its future.
Join the webinar at 4:55 pm on Oct. 13.