24 February 2016

Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the JW3

.... Today, Maajid does not offer platitudes about Islam being a peaceful faith and he tends to be critical of those who do (it is perhaps only fair to observe that in 2010 he was constrained by a clumsy debating motion, but I wonder if he would feel comfortable defending such a blunt proposition today, even for the sake of argument).

For her part, Hirsi Ali no longer describes Islam as a religion with which we are at war. Nor does neuroscientist and new atheist moral philosopher Sam Harris, who recently co-authored a fascinating dialogue with Nawaz entitled Islam and the Future of Tolerance. “I admit” Harris tells Maajid during their exchange, “that I have often contributed to this narrative myself, and rather explicitly”.

On the larger question of religious reform, Hirsi Ali and Nawaz describe the religious and political landscape in similar terms. In his collaboration with Harris, Nawaz talks about Islam as a series of concentric circles of fanaticism and belief. At the center are global jihadists like ISIS and al Qaeda and local jihadists like Hamas, followed by a circle of revolutionary and political Islamists (Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood, respectively), all of whom are working in their own ways to establish a theocracy, and marshal transnational Muslim support for their project. In her recent book Heretic, Hirsi Ali refers to the above as ‘Medina Muslims’ who draw inspiration from the warlike, triumphalist chapters of Muhammad’s life. [Harry’s Place] Read more