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Islam's Silent Majority

The Great Theft says moderate Muslims should take Islam back from extremists.
2007This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
Khaled M. Abou El Fadl
HarperSanFrancisco
320 pages $21.95

Hailed as the "first attempt" to explain moderate and extremist Muslim views, this work systematically spells out the differences. The author is right to state that the real clash is not between civilizations but within Islam itself. He says one reason for the conflicted, dysfunctional state of current Islam is that the religion lacks a final authority. Consequently, self-proclaimed experts say anything they want and get away with it.

Khaled Abou M. El Fadl has the credentials to speak for a "pluralistic, tolerant, and non-violent Islam." Surviving torture in Egypt for his views, he fled to the United States. As a scholar at UCLA, who has studied in the Middle East and at Yale, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania, he has become a respected jurist of Islamic and Western law. Still, he continues to face death threats for criticizing "puritans" and their literalist interpretations.

This book claims that Islam stands on two foundational truths: mercy and moderation. Since Wahhabis, bankrolled by Saudi oil, are responsible for terrorism, Fadl says, the "silent majority" must wage a counter-jihad to rescue the soul of Islam from a "militant and fanatic minority." Whatever the outcome, Fadl is to be applauded for his courageous attempt to nudge Muslims toward moderation.



Related Elsewhere:

The Great Theft is available in paperback and hardcover from Amazon.com and other retailers.

HarperCollins' page on the book features an excerpt.

Scholar of the House is a website devoted to the thought and scholarship of Khaled Abou El Fadl.

PBS and Mother Jones interviewed El Fadl about trends in Islam.

The New York Times reported ...

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