The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Religion - 336 pages

Despite President George W. Bush's assurances that Islam is a peaceful religion and that all good Muslims hunger for democracy, confusion persists and far too many Westerners remain convinced that Muslims and terrorists are synonymous. In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent bombings in London, an unprecedented amount of attention has been directed toward Islam and the Muslim world. Yet, even with this increased scrutiny, most of the public discourse regarding Islam revolves around the actions of extremist factions such as the Wahhabis and al-Qa'ida. But what of the Islam we don't hear about?

As the second-largest and fastest-growing religion in the world, Islam is deemed by more than a billion Muslims to be a source of serenity and spiritual peace, and a touchstone for moral and ethical guidance. While extremists have an impact upon the religion that is wildly disproportionate to their numbers, moderates constitute the majority of Muslims worldwide. It is this rift between the quiet voice of the moderates and the deafening statements of the extremists that threatens the future of the faith.

In The Great Theft, Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of the world's preeminent Islamic scholars, argues that Islam is currently passing through a transformative period no less dramatic than the movements that swept through Europe during the Reformation. At this critical juncture there are two completely opposed worldviews within Islam competing to define this great world religion. The stakes have never been higher, and the future of the Muslim world hangs in the balance.

Drawing on the rich tradition of Islamic history and law, The Great Theft is an impassioned defense of Islam against the encroaching power of the extremists. As an accomplished Islamic jurist, Abou El Fadl roots his arguments in long-standing historical legal debates and delineates point by point the beliefs and practices of moderate Muslims, distinguishing these tenets from the corrupting influences of the extremists. From the role of women in Islam to the nature of jihad, from democracy and human rights to terrorism and warfare, Abou El Fadl builds a vital vision for a moderate Islam. At long last, the great majority of Muslims who oppose extremism have a desperately needed voice to help reclaim Islam's great moral tradition.


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The great theft: wrestling Islam from the extremists

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Islamist jurist and Western law scholar El Fadl's (law, UCLA; U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom) objective is to address some of the difficulties currently facing Islam by ... Read full review

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I would like to think I am a "moderate" muslim; pursuing the "middle" way. El Fadl although providing insights in to extremism and the "Puritans" thinking; then makes exactly the same mistake! El Fadl mentions how the "puritans" have their own lense (ie filter their understanding of the Quran and the Sunna to impose their extreme prejudices) but then he does the same by stating his own extreme "personal" wishes and views, thereby completing undermining himself.
El Fadl sensationalisation (similar to tabloid newspapers) will appeal to the layman and combined with his so called references to "classical sources", it will also pass for knowledge and scholarship to the layman.
It should be noted that none of the renowned masters of the Hadith recognise El Fadl as a student in the field, never mind a scholar.


one Islam Torn Between
two The Roots of the Problem
three The Rise of the Early Puritans
four The Story of Contemporary Puritans
five What All Muslims Agree Upon
eleven Jihad Warfare and Terrorism
twelve The Nature and Role of Women

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About the author (2009)

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the most important and influential Islamic thinkers in the modern age. An accomplished Islamic jurist and scholar, he is a professor at the UCLA School of Law, where he teaches Islamic law, immigration law, human rights law, and international and national security law. As the most critical and powerful voice against puritanical and Wahhabi Islam today, he regularly appears on national and international television and radio, including CNN, NBC, PBS, NPR, and the Voice of America (broadcast throughout the Middle East).

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