‘Waiting for an Islamic Enlightenment’

‘Waiting for an Islamic Enlightenment’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, October 22, 2005

Reza Aslan’s sets out a nuanced and cultured view of Islam in No God But God. Reform can only come from below, says Tariq Ali

Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American writer, a Shia by persuasion, and informs us in the prologue to his book that he will be denounced as an apostate by some and an apologist by others, but that the latter does not bother him since “there is no higher calling than to defend one’s faith”, especially in times of ignorance and hate. He insists that this book is an argument for reform and concludes with a warning that, “like the reformations of the past, this will be a terrifying event, one that has already begun to engulf the world”.

In reality this book is designed for the west. Its aim is to appease western ideologues who have embraced the “clash of civilisations” thesis. Aslan, who regards the US occupation of Iraq as a “liberation”, provides a much more nuanced and cultured view of Islam than the more dogmatic Islamists representing Shia or Sunni orthodoxy. He is a true moderate, and if western elites are in search of a more user-friendly Islam, this book will be much more helpful than the bearded moderates paraded on television after each new atrocity. read more